Hymn Transcription Exercise

Hymn Transcription Exercise

A lesson plan by Aaron Datsko, [email protected], Lower Merion High School, PA

TI:ME Technology Areas Addressed:



High School


Sibelius Notation Software
Macintosh computer
Midi Keyboard


45 Minutes

Prior Knowledge and Skills:

Basic knowledge of Sibelius music notation program.
Basic knowledge of orchestral instrumentation, including play ranges and transpositions.

NAfME standard of 1994 Addressed:

NAfME standard of 1994: Composing and Arranging Music within specified guidelines.
NAfME standard of 1994: Reading and notating music.

NAfME 2014: Creating 


Copies of a standard 4-part hymn for each student.
Copy of sheet containing instructions and tips for students


Students will be able to arrange 4 part hymns into standard chamber instrumentations (brass quintet, string quartet, etc.) using proper key signatures, time signatures, transpositions and ranges for each instrument.


  1. Distribute hymns to students.
  2. Explain to students that they are to take this hymn and transcribe it for a small ensemble of their choice. They may choose from a predetermined list of appropriate ensembles.
  3. After picking their respective ensemble, students will use Sibelius to create the full score for their group.
  4. Students will determine which instruments will match the voice parts in the original hymn, and enter these into the program accordingly, using any desired method of note entry.
  5. Students will extract parts from their arrangements. Extracted parts should be in appropriate transpositions for each instrument
  6. Students will check the extracted parts to ensure that the parts are playable by their respective instruments, including range and transpositions.
  7. Students will submit a copy of parts and score for teacher evaluation.


Have the students included all 4 voices from the original hymn in the arrangement?
Are the parts in the appropriate transposed key / clef?
Are the parts playable by the instrument in question (proper ranges)
Are the parts notated accurately within the confines of the notation program?

Follow Up:

Transcribing hymns for full ensembles
Transcribing from one chamber group to another (string quartet to woodwind quintet).

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