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This month's musicianship skill is a perfect way to kick off the new year. Invite your students to participate in a "new year, new key" challenge by learning how to transpose!
Click "read more" for your free resources on teaching transposition!
- Transposing encourages intervallic reading. When transposing, students learn to look for patterns instead on focusing on just the letter names of each note.
- Transposing gets students playing in keys with multiple sharps or flats right away. Your beginners might not encounter the key of F# major for a few years--but they can learn to get comfortable building and playing simple melodies using the F# major scale right now!
- Transposing helps with ear training. Students must rely on their listening skills to make sure they are playing a piece correctly in an unfamiliar key.
Here are a few tips that will make teaching transposition easy!
Puzzle erasers for the win! Have students practice building the scale they will be transposing to before they play.
- Choose simple, familiar pieces with lots of stepping notes to start. (My transposing challenge worksheets at the bottom of the page are a great place to start!)
- Start by transposing to an easy key. Just about any student can transpose a simple, five-finger piece in C major to the key of G major, since both scales use only white keys for the first five notes. D major and A major are also safe bets, since those scales use an easy-to-remember finger pattern with a black key under finger 3.
- Practice building pentascales in lots of different keys using the W-W-H-W formula. My students love using puzzle erasers (pictured above) to practice building scales directly on the piano keys! The free "Pentascale Practice" worksheet found below is also a great way to reinforce this skill.
- For more advanced students, remind them to analyze the chords in the piece they will be transposing. Knowing the Roman numeral chord names of a piece in advance will make transposing faster and easier!
- Finally, once your students are comfortable with transposing, challenge them to transpose a piece into every major key. The transposing challenge pages below include a checklist so students can keep track of the keys they have used for each piece.
Ready to get started? Check out these free transposing resources:
What do you think? Do you encourage your students to transpose? Any transposing tips you would like to share? I would love to hear from you in the comments!