Transposition Tool

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.

Happy transposing.

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.

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Hissing at a House

Read 1 Kings 9:1-9  Focus on verse 8.

The temple was extravagant beyond measure. It was set high and very beautiful. Solomon had poured his life into it, and when all was finished God Himself came to meet with Solomon.

God had some words for Solomon and all the people.

God said He would dwell there perpetually, and the place would have His glory if…. only if the people served Him alone.

But if they turned aside, the temple would be as awful as it was beautiful. Those who passed by and saw it would be disgusted. They would hiss. They would ask questions. The ugly truth would come out.

Our lives are a bit like that temple. What shape is our temple in? God created us clean and beautiful. He created us as a temple fit for His own dwelling. If we keep ourselves clean, if we serve God alone, our lives will be beautiful. If we are gentle and if we do small acts of kindness, we will bring beauty to this world. And others will see beauty in us.

But if we live carelessly and our lives are tumbledown, those who pass by will notice that too. If we serve ourselves and are rude and unkind, our lives will be disgusting to the people around us. Don’t be the kind of person who astonishes those you meet and makes them hiss.

You are building your own life. Today.

Build well.

A Whisperer

Introduction:

Why/when do people whisper?

Body:

Read Proverbs 16:27-30

Is this whisperer causing good? What are his whispers? Why is he whispering?

Friendships are valuable to all of us. And we don’t like separation.

Do you like to hear bad things about friends?

Let’s learn to keep evil from passing our lips, in fact, we should not even think evil of others.

Conclusion:

Let’s treasure friendships and think before we talk. Be a true friend. Only think good of others. The next time you whisper, analyze why you are whispering, and be sure you aren’t destroying your friends.

When Elephants Fall

Introduction:

What is the greatest thing that a person has ever done?

Body:

Around 163 BC, during those four hundred years between the Old and New Testaments, Judas Maccabeus had a stand off with Antiochus Eupator. Judas had been fighting to free the Jews from Greek/Roman rule, but some of the Jews turned against him and stirred up Antiochus, the Greek king, to squelch Judas’s rebellion. A traitor high priest even sided with Antiochus. And Antiochus said he wanted to do more damage to the Jews than his father had done.

History speaks of Antiochus as a brash and heartless man. He came against Judas with:

  • 110,000 foot soldiers
  • 5,300 men on horses
  • 300 scythed chariots
  • 22 elephants

Judas told his men that victories are from God. He took his most valiant men and attacked Antiochus’s army by night. They killed four thousand men and the best of the elephants. All who tried to stand against Judas that night were killed.

In the morning, Antiochus’s army was filled with dread and horror. Antiochus set his men in order and commanded the elephants to be given grape and mulberry juice to drink. The elephants were divided up so that each one had one thousand foot soldiers and five hundred cavalry. Each elephant had an Indian driver and carried a wooden room on its back that contained thirty-two more soldiers.

Judas engaged the army and killed six hundred men.

Eleazar, Judas’s brother, saw an elephant in royal harness that was taller than all the others. He decided that likely Antiochus rode that beast. Eleazar went for it, slaughtering men on every side. When he reached the elephant he crept underneath and killed it.

But the elephant fell on Eleazar and he died also.

I imagine everyone saw the elephant fall. I imagine very few saw Eleazar fall. But what he did was truly great, perhaps the greatest thing anyone did on that battlefield. He saw work to be done and he did it. A battle to be fought and he fought it. He didn’t worry about the cost. He didn’t care about being noticed. Because all that mattered was victory for the people of God.

Conclusion:

Often the greatest things we can do will be noticed the least. Or even if the result is noticed, the doer is not. Find the quiet things to do. Kind words to a friend. Dishes washed for your mom. A prayer for your preacher.

Be faithful in small things, because it is in them that your strength lies.

Mother Teresa

*this story can be found in James Ussher’s The Annals of the World paragraphs 3467 to 3473

Low Door

This Christmas bulletin board was built by fastening up cedar fencing slats. The can be fastened with screws or nails, but if you put on a paper baking and staple it especially tight, the boards can be hot glued to the paper. The poem is by Margaret Penner Toews. I had no large paper, so I painstakingly printed and glued and burnt around that piece.

The Boring Devotions

Introduction:

What if my devotions this morning is very boring? What will you do? Goof off? Distract yourself?

Do you think that anyone ever intentionally gives a boring speech/sermon/Sunday school?

Body:

What can you do?

  • focus
  • watch the speaker
  • attempt to relate his points to yourself
  • think of questions to ask

What are you revealing about yourself if you goof off? 

  • I don’t care
  • your message is unimportant
  • you are not worth my time
  • disrespect – recently a judge fined himself because his own cellphone rang during court

Conclusion:

We like life to be interesting. But really it’s up to you. If you choose to take an interest in a speech you think is boring, you may just find it interesting.

Shelters

I often take my class outside for story time. And while I read they pluck at the grass, or arrange sticks and pebbles. This gave me the idea to have them build shelters. It made an excellent art project. Give them a brushy area to explore. And equip them with lots of hot glue and a base of some kind. We used a cedar slat.