Music teachers know their students don’t just learn to play music; they are also exposed to universal life skills along the way. But that’s just part of the story. Currently, most students are largely left to learn these universal skills—like problem-solving, patience, focus, collaboration, critical thinking, creativity, and communication—on their own and often not very effectively.
The Transposed Musician is a practical guide to teaching these universal skills within the context of a traditional music lesson. The results not only empower students to better confront the challenges of the twenty-first century, they significantly improve musicianship—a double benefit.
Author Dylan Savage spent two decades refining his approach to teaching universal skills through music, and he shares them in this book. Each of the eight chapters of The Transposed Musician focuses on a specific universal skill (problem-solving, focus, patience, critical thinking, communication, collaboration, improvisation, and creativity) and shows how students can apply that skill to music. He then shows how teachers can guide those students to “transpose” that skill to life and back again to music with far deeper understanding and musicianship.
With practical examples and clear writing, this book is for music educators wishing to help their students become both better musicians and also better-equipped citizens of the world. Students truly become “transposed musicians” for life and for music.
Dylan Savage is Associate Professor of Piano at the University of North Carolina–Charlotte. He is also a Bösendorfer Concert Artist, a Capstone Records Recording Artist, and a winner of the Rome Festival Orchestra Competition.
This book is priceless and contains a wealth of music teaching information that every teacher should apply to their studio. Dylan Savage’s use of universal skills transforms music teaching into a viable and essential part of education in the twenty-first-century. This teaching approach of using universal skills can revolutionize teaching music in both the private studio and college level and will give teachers a greater sense of purpose and satisfaction in their work. This book challenges many preconceived ideas about teaching music and mastering performance. Bravo for shaking up the status quo.
Composer, Clinician, Teacher
This book asks and explores fascinating questions about what it means to study music in a changing world. Are there skills we can learn in our music lessons which can enrich our lives in other non-musical areas, and then can we bring those expanded skills back into our study of music itself? Too often our conservatories are dead-ends, stuck with outdated, one-dimensional approaches which can lead to stunted personal development. This book suggests ways in which we can break down doors, for students and teachers alike, and celebrate music as something life-affirming, in and out of the studio.
Pianist, Composer, Writer
Dylan Savage has given us a fresh and creative pedagogy to guide our music students toward life as twenty-first-century musicians. His career as pianist and teacher, and his firsthand experience in the marketplace of business and industry, allow him to forge a systematic approach to teaching universal skills in the music lesson. In each of the eight chapters, skills such as problem-solving, focus, critical thinking, collaboration, and improvisation are defined and applied to musical skills. These in turn are “transposed” to non-musical applications. We observe the music lessons and the active “transposition” or transfer of universal skills exemplified through descriptions of particular lessons. The anxieties, confusions, and ultimate comfort and understanding of students are guided by the questions of the teacher. The book is beautifully organized and is enriched by quotations of artists, musicians and philosophers, and suggested readings and references. I really think this is an important and helpful book with a point of view that is much needed. The empathy and knowledge of the author steer the reader toward the realities of today’s musical world, a world that requires skilled musicians to have universal skills that benefit their lives, regardless of their ultimate career paths.
—Phyllis Alpert Lehrer
Professor Emerita, Westminster Choir College of Rider University
Artist Faculty, Westminster Conservatory
In The Transposed Musician, Dylan Savage combines a visionary’s deep understanding of the challenges music students and teachers face with an eminently practical way to meet those challenges. Using a master teacher’s insight, Savage “transposes” eight potential stumbling blocks into eight universal skills that can be acquired through a beautifully organized, step-by-step approach. In turn, he shows how these skills can be applied to other areas in our rapidly changing world, helping us lead more satisfying, meaningful, and fulfilling lives, not only as musicians, but as human beings. For students and teachers alike, an inspired and inspiring book.
—Barbara Lister-Sink, Ed.D.
Producer, Freeing the Caged Bird
The Transposed Musician is an important contribution to our literature on teaching essential life skills including problem-solving, patience, focus, critical thinking, and creativity within the traditional music lesson. Teachers and students both can benefit from the study and application of these skills. Applications are made both to the traditional lesson as well as to non-music applications.
Pianist, Author, Teacher
University of Oklahoma
Twenty-five hundred years ago Plato recommended music first in his ideal curriculum for potential leaders of Athens—before sport, mathematics, and moral philosophy. None of his candidates, one may assume, aspired to become a professional musician. Nevertheless, throughout centuries, otherwise people have acknowledged that the study and practice of music generates collateral benefits essential to human fulfillment. In his new book The Transposed Musician, Professor Dylan Savage of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte identifies eight of these benefits—Problem Solving, Focus, Patience, Critical Thinking, Communication, Collaboration, Improvisation, and Creativity—and calls them “universal skills” which may be developed consciously and systematically within the context of traditional music lessons. Doing so takes what has been implicit all along and makes it explicit. Music is good for us! Music teachers, even at the highest conservatory level, learn from Professor Savage that they are not so much professional trainers as guides to a happier, more successful life.
—Dr. Joseph Robinson
Principal Oboe, New York Philharmonic (1978–2005)
Successful author, teacher, producer, and arts advocate
Savage's excellent book couldn't be more timely, unique, clear, full of wisdom, and exactly what we need. As he points out, music teachers have known for generations—in a rather generalized way—that musical skills can strengthen life skills in many ways. Dylan Savage is the first to address this 'transposition' intentionally, with specific exercises in the transferrable skills. What better gift could there be for music students facing an ever-changing world?
Award-winning concert pianist (Geneva Competition) and teacher
Author of The Perfect Wrong Note: Learning to Trust Your Musical Self