Adult Piano Instruction: Sight-reading, Solfeggio, and Transposition

I reserve the last 10-15 minutes of my lessons with a few adult students for sight-reading, sight-singing with solfeggio, and transposition activity.

While I begin with short pieces in five-finger positions, the requirement to transpose these in a Circle of Fifth progression (playing Major and Relative minors) is a valuable ear-training experience.

In the following example, a student is prompted to sing the bass line as she plays the treble, and then in reverse.

She practiced a Major/Relative Minor sequence using a movable “DO.”

In the second demonstration, an adult beginner who started piano lessons just 5 months ago, had his FIRST experience with sight-reading and transposition. (Initially, he read an A minor phrase, treble line only, and subsequently transposed it into into the PARALLEL A MAJOR key. The tonalities, C Major and c minor followed)

Finally, the student returned to the A minor model, parceled out the bass line, and played the phrase with both hands.


(With both pupils, I used Fundamentals of Piano Theory by Keith Snell and Martha Ashleigh)

These activity supplements improve sight-reading skills, and help pupils internalize what’s on the page.

They advance ear-training and grow an awareness of intervals and key relationships.

Organizers that include repetitions and sequences aid reading and memorization.

As a student advances, he/she will transpose more complex pieces that do not adhere to five-finger positions.

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