So, you are ready to teach your students to transpose. Now what?
My secret weapon for teaching my students to transpose: puzzle erasers! I got this idea from Diane Hidy’s wonderful site (www.dianehidy.com), and my students love them.
Of course in my studio we use cat erasers. :)
I start by spending a couple of lessons playing with the erasers and learning how to identify half steps, whole steps, and major pentascale patterns (WWHW) on the piano. I ask students to build a pentascale pattern, then play it an octave higher following the pattern of the erasers.
Once students are comfortable building major pentascales, we take a simple five finger song in the key of C major and try transposing it to a different key. Students build the scale with the erasers, put their fingers on the keys an octave above, and play the song in the new scale using the same finger numbers. I encourage students to look for patterns by asking questions: is the melody stepping or skipping? Going up or down?
For homework, I give my students a transposition challenge sheet. The sheet contains a simple five finger piece and a check box for each major key. I ask students to check off each key they can play their song in, with the goal of playing in all twelve keys. For a good first transposing challenge worksheet you can use with your students, click here!
As students progress, I have additional transposition challenge sheets with left hand songs and songs that use both hands with simple harmony. This is a great activity to do with familiar folk songs and Christmas songs, many of which have a narrow melodic range and simple harmonies.
So, what do you think? Do you have any tips or tricks for teaching transposition to your students? Please leave a comment below!