Practicing with the Movable Do Staff

Transfer your knowledge of tones from the Movable Do Disc to the musical staff with the Movable Do Staff! The staff is no means to understand the sounds in music, but once we do understand the sounds, we can start reading and placing them on the staff.

On the Movable Do Staff, the lines are coloured to represent the diatonic functions. The colours correspond to those on the Movable Do Disc.

All keys are represented, in G-, C-, and F-clefs. The Movable Do Staff highlights the information that is already in staff, clef and key signature: the lines of the staff represent thirds, the clef places them in the system of absolute pitch, while the key signature defines the tonal functions of the lines.


On the circle of fifths displayed here, you can see the result for all the keys with a G-clef. You will see that for keys with the same letter as keytone (e.g. E and Eb, A and Ab etc.) the lines will look the same.

The Movable Do Staff lets you isolate any five lines, so you can practice reading in any key, with any clef. Some ideas:

  • Point and sing a familiar melody or an improvisation
  • Sing back a melody on solfa or pitch names while pointing to their place on the staff (for this you need a partner, teacher, or use bits of a recording)
  • Use the pawns to “notate” melodic lines or harmonies (on a single staff or the grand staff)
  • Place pawns on the staff (or have someone else place them) and sight sing the melodic line

When you unfold two staves, the connecting dotted lines will show you that is it like reading a piano part, with G- and F-clefs in the same key. With a G-clef at the top, and an F-clef at the bottom, the image below represents how we would read the “grand staff” in a pianoscore in C=do, with the dotted line representing middle C.staff-piano-d-chordThe following example can be read as G=do or Gb=do with a G-clef and the appropriate flats and sharps, but when read with an F-clef it would be B=do or Bb=do:staff-gdoHere is another example with the same five lines. On the right are the clefs with their key signatures for the keys in which to find this arrangement of lines.staff-gdo-la-pentachordWhen you have connected the colours to the diatonic tones through the Movable Do Disc, reading this staff is easy: the first note is on the la-line. The second note is in between the la– and the do-line, so it is a ti, etc. If, from the Absolute Pitch Attachment, you know the absolute names in G=do, reading pitch names poses as little a problem as reading solfa names. Here are the five lines as we would read them in C=do with a G-clef:Movable Do Staff G-clef C=do