Show, Not Tell

Sitting on the bench,
Keying out tunes.
Right hand’s a cinch,
Left came in too soon.

Play a chord here,
A D, not an F.
Play an arpeggio there,
And remember it’s in treble clef.

Too fast, too slow;
Keep the tempo the same.
Play that an octave low,
And your volume’s a little lame.

Now finish it off –
See that forte sign?
So don’t make it soft,
And hold it a long time.

I wrote this poem in middle school. The assignment was to write a poem about an activity that we did, with one big rule: telling the reader the activity was taboo! Forbidden! I could not say the word piano; I could only show it. I had to get creative.

I plan on using this activity, with one twist: afterwards, students will be given a random poem (not their own) to read – and guess what the author is describing. Not only will this give them experience in writing descriptive statements, but also in ferreting out clues to understand the author’s meaning. Also, I expect that knowing others will be guessing about what they mean will make the activity more engaging. Hopefully!

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