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Sight-Reading & Transposition

Sight-reading is such an important element in piano!  All students should have the ability to sight-read effectively, so I have included this into PCSPPE.  Each level has a short example (1 page or less) that the student must read and play.  As of 2014, I contract the renown Ann Rivers Witherspoon, to write these examples.  She incorporates required elements (see Syllabus), making each example very accessible for students.  The examples are generally 2-3 levels below the testing level.  This portion of the test is worth 0-3 points.

When the student is finished sight-reading, the judge will ask him/her to then transpose the example into another key.  Ann and I take great care when deciding which key is used.  Although the student should be able to transpose into many keys, we try to make these accessible without being too painful.  All examples through Level 10 are in major keys.  Levels 11-HSD may be in either major or minor.  This portion is worth 0-3 points.

My students are always sight-reading, so preparing for that portion of the test isn’t really a challenge.  Transposing on sight is another story.  As we all know, this is something that is quite difficult. Spending quality time, coaching your students, will assist them in being successful.  I always ask my students the obvious, what key is it in, what is the time signature, etc, but then we dig deeper and talk about intervalic reading and how the two keys relate.  If you begin this process early in a student’s study, they adapt quite easily.  If you try to “cram”, they will probably be nervous and frustrated.  My advice is to take time every week or two and play different examples.

If you would like to see past examples, I have put together booklets that are for sale.  You can find them under Piano Proficiency Examinations on the Home Page.


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