Transcribing For String Instruments

Transcribing For String Instruments

Laura Cipriano
[email protected]
Taipei American School, Taiwan

TI:ME Technology Areas Addressed:



High School




Sibleius Notation Software
Computer and Midi Keyboard


60 Minutes

Prior Knowledge and Skills:

Basic knowlege and skills with Sibelius
Previous experience in examining traditional printed scores and parts for their instruments

NAfME standard of 1994 Addressed:

NAfME standard of 1994: Performing on instruments, alone and with others, a varied repertoire of music.

NAfME 2014: Performing 

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

NAfME 2014: Creating 

NAfME standard of 1994: Listening to, analyzing and describing music.
NAfME standard of 1994: Evaluating music and music performances.

NAfME 2014: Responding 

NAfME standard of 1994: Understanding relationships between music, the other arts, and disciplines outside the arts.
NAfME standard of 1994: Understanding Music in Relation to History and Culture

NAfME 2014: Connections


Sample of an a cappella vocal music of madrigal or motet style;
Set of instructions including a rubric for fulfilling the assigment appropriately


Transcribe a four part vocal piece for string quartet using correct notation protocol for an instrumental score and extract the parts for performance in small ensembles.


1. One of the earliest forms of instrumental music in Western music is the transcription of vocal pieces for lute, organ, or for like and unlike groups of instruments, for example. Briefly introduce this, explain the lesson objectives, then review the rubric before the students go to computer stations.
2. Assess the students’ awareness and understanding of notation practices by first asking them to visually scan the sample vocal piece to notice any notational differences with the music they commonly read as instrumentalists. Generate some discussion around this and the use of articulation and expressive markings which could be used in the transcribing process.
3. The major portion of the instructional time will be spent at the computer working out the assignment. The students set up the score with appropriate key signature and time signature followed by entering the notes for each part using their preferred note entry system.
4. After completing the score the students check their work against the rubric and extract the parts to be used for a performance task in a later class. The students print out parts for performance. The assignment is saved to a shared network drive.


The students’ work is evaluated against the rubric and assigned a grade.

Follow Up:

The students can be grouped in small ensembles for performance of the transcription for the entire class. Through peer assessment the class can evaluate how well the performers realized the notation of their transcription in actual performance.
Many connections can be made with analyzing and describing as well as understanding the relationship of music to history and culture.

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