Sometimes children in piano lessons have difficulty understanding simple music concepts. Children who lack experience need examples they can easily relate to. This helps students develop a musical vocabulary that is on their level and corresponding playing abilities when they are young so they can be nurtured over time, rather than waiting until they can understand more technical definitions. Here’s a seven step teaching plan for the musical term Transposition.
The technical definition of transposition is: The process of changing the key of a composition. Not very helpful for a child is it? Now follow this 7 step teaching plan to give young students an explanation they can relate to. Parents can do this with their piano student at home.
1. Make two copies of the same coloring page and give your student a box of crayons. Ask them to choose three crayons to color one of the pictures.
2. Then give them the other copy of the same coloring page. Ask them to choose three different crayons to color this page. They should do their best coloring.
3. Now as the student is looking at the two coloring pages, ask them to describe the difference between the two, but without using the word “color" or “names of colors" in their explanation. They’ll have a hard time explaining the difference, but let them use their imaginations. All their answers are okay.
4. Now go to the piano and have them play a simple melody in the C five-finger hand position (C-D-E-F-G for each hand). This is the first position students learn to play in.
5. Then have your student move their hands to G position (G-A-B-C D). Help the child do this if you need to. Now ask them to play their song again. Ask how the two versions are different, besides the fact that they moved their hands, or are playing different piano keys. Listen carefully to their answers which are all okay. Then suggest this explanation of transposition.
Transposing a song on the piano to another key or hand position is like choosing different colors for your coloring page. It’s the same picture painted in a different shade of sounds.
6. Ask which of your pictures is brighter? Which version of your song sounded brighter?
7. Explain that changing the key of a piece of music lets us play the same musical idea in another “shade or color". This is called transposition.
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