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Ear Training and Transposing are intrinsic to piano lessons (examples from an Adult lesson in progress)

It’s not easy to plan a one hour piano lesson to include ear training, solfege and transposing. (They belong together, bundled with Theory, and enrich the learning environment)

At the Oberlin Conservatory, Theory, Keyboard Harmony, and Eurhythmics were taught separately. Our piano teachers (applied study) adhered to their rigid routine, rarely fitting solfege, sight-reading, improvising, composing etc. into the time-limited hour. Yet, the cross-fertilization of course work, expanded our musical horizons.

The New York City High School of Performing Arts, my alma mater, offered a valuable/mandatory Sight-singing course that continued from 10th grade through senior year. It was enormously relevant as the movable DO (solfeggio) helped me navigate complex scores, and peel away voices.

Piano students who just stick to the music without being exposed to theory, ear-training and other mind-enriching escapades, are basically short-changed. They often view their pieces as finger challenges only–easily becoming Treble clef fixated, tacking on bass lines without a second thought. Naturally, their sight-reading suffers because they’re not internalizing interval movement in various voices, or sensing harmonic flow.

In an effort to stem the tide of such top layer, tracing paper learning, I’ve made a concerted effort to delegate at least 15 minutes of my students’ lesson time to ear training and transposing. (One of my source materials is Fundamentals of Piano Theory by Snell and Ashleigh) Snell and Ashleigh

As an example, I videotaped an adult student transposing snatches from the Preparatory Level workbook, page 45.

for transposition using solfege


I’ve tossed in a spot-practicing segment where the ADULT student is smoothing out a tricky set of measures in the RONDO: Allegretto, Mozart Sonata, K. 545. (Repertoire should be a springboard for sight-singing, ear-training and theory adventures since they’re interwoven)

(I often slip into solfeggio in parceling voices)


Solfeggio and Transposing

The Importance of Sight-singing, Ear-training and Theory in piano study

Using Piano Repertoire and as a springboard for a theory lesson

How to Improve Sight-Reading

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Piano Instruction: Suggested ways to practice Mozart Rondo: Allegretto, K. 545 in C Major

Rondo Allegretto Mozart 545

Having been through years of practicing and teaching this Mozart Alegretto, I have a few epiphanies that might benefit others. In the attached video, I assert that the opening Rondo motif with its lively thirds should not spill into an emphasized downbeat but rather a lifted one. This applies to the overlapping Left Hand as well, to create consistency. (Note that the Rondo A section includes measures 1-8)

(The Rondo Form: A, B, A, C, A followed by the Coda. The interspersed sections between the recurring RONDO A are called Episodes)

In the episodic portions of the movement, with streams of legato (connected) 16ths, as in Measures 9-13, I enlist a rolling wrist forward motion to counter a very articulated sound. Mozart’s music, evoking the light opera in this composition, should be singable.

The modulations to different keys also should be identified in the overall mapping of this movement. For instance Measures 28 through 52 are in A minor.
In measures 28-32, the lighthearted harmonic thirds motif returns, and they are then inverted to 6ths. (This is a Development section)

The Coda is a stream of legato 16ths (use the rolling wrist motion) that spills into a final two-measure zig zag arpeggio. (a fingering challenge for some)

Rondo Allegretto 545 coda

Think singable Mozart whether the notes are in short spurts, or longer spills. (But know there is a dualism permeating this Rondo–short, detached notes and contrasting legato phrases)

By the way, I use no pedal in this movement, because I believe clarity is best realized without it.

The video amplifies: I apologize for moments where the Mac motions of my hands and the music did not synch. Seems Imovie has not solved all its internal problems.


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