I wonder how the earliest men learned to invent tools. Necessity is the mother of invention. But what made it necessary for them to invent? Or more directly, how did they know it was necessary to invent?
And what exactly is invention? Is invention by definition creation ex nihilo? Or is it simply an orderly assembly of available resources?
In my teaching I rarely invent. In fact, here’s a full disclosure – I’m not sure how I would know to create the things I am missing when I’m not even aware of what I am missing.
Instead I beg, borrow, or steal. I copy all the hard work of wiser men. I not an inventor; I’m the generation before him. I’m the hunter-gatherer.
Last week my hunting-gathering came back empty. So I turned to creation. But not creation out of nothing (as this post is created).
But wait, is this post truly ex nihilo if there was a specific something from which it grew?
This much I do know. I was trying to teach music transposition.
The lesson objective was to teach that a major scale is made up so many tones and semitones in a specific order; and that when major scales are written in any key other than C, flats and sharps are needed to make the semitones of the staff align with the semitones of the major scale.
I remembered a wonderful sliding scale printed in the back of Rod and Staff music curriculum I once taught. The scale could be shifted up and down to place Do on any pitch, and my students could easily recognize which pitches needed accidentals.
I needed thirteen of them. Prints, not accidentals.
So before music class, I slipped off to the office and googled sliding scale, sliding scale modulator, tool to teach transposition, tool to align scale with staff, tool to teach key signature, and may other variations.
I found zero.
Nothing was left me but to create my own. I passed out clean sheets of paper in music class and we did some measuring and cutting. Try it with your own students.
Take a clean sheet of paper. Turn it to portrait mode. Start at the center of the bottom edge and measure up one inch. Make a horizontal line about an inch long and label it with Do on the right side and C on the left. Mark off another inch for Re/D and a third inch for Mi/E. Make a fourth mark only half an inch higher for Fa/F. Continue marking off a whole inch for a tone and a half-inch for a semitone until you get to the top of the paper. Label the marks with the Major Diatonic scale on the right and the pitches of the staff on the left.
Cut the paper up the center. If everything is precise you can place the Do on whichever pitch you like and see at a glance which lines or spaces need accidentals to make them align with the major scale.
Or follow this link for a printable pdf.
Perhaps you have a sure-fire and easier method of teaching the same thing. Perhaps you are holding a missing piece I don’t even know I should be hunting for. Feel free to suggest that or any other comments below.