Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Value of Singing at Piano Lessons: Part 3 Chord Progressions and Transposition

Practical Chord Progressions
Post 3
Practical Chord Progressions and Transposition
When introducing the Primary Chords, I pull out a few primer level books with traditional songs and ask my student to play accompanying chords while I play the melody and we both sing the song.  They can hear the application of learning chords right away and it is a lot more fun for them to play a duet than simply play chord progressions in different keys.   They can practice at home by singing the melody as they add chords to harmonize.  I have written in I, IV or V Chord symbols underneath the staff for the student.  Making Music Fun has a wealth of free printable sheet music ideals for this purpose. Another resource that I have
in my music library is "Faber Pre-Time Piano Favorites".  Every single song in the book can be harmonized with the primary chords.  Following is a list of familiar tunes organized (somewhat) by difficulty of chord progressions.
Goodbye Old Paint 
Frere Jacques

I - V - I
Hush Little Baby 
The Farmer in the Dell
Row, Row, Row Your Boat
Apples and Bananas
Hokey Pokey A-Tisket, A-Tasket
Itsy Bitsy Spider
Hot Cross Buns 
London Bridge
Hot Cross Buns 
Mary Had  Little Lamb
Mickey Mouse March
The Wheels on the Bus
Ten Little Indians
Shoo, Fly
Pop! Goes the Weasel
On the Bridge

I - IV - I - V - I
Baa! Baa! Black Sheep
On Top of Spaghetti
The Muffin Man
Lavendar's Blue 
If You're Happy and You Know It
Hickory Dickory Dock
Michael Row the Boat Ashore

I - IV - V - I
Yankee Doodle 
The Muffin Man

To go even further, I transpose the melody to different keys so the student can practice playing chord progressions in various keys.  As students advance they can sightread and sing the melody while they also play the chord progressions.

And of course popular and movie themes tend to really light up my students eyes. 
Check out this exciting recent fun find on the Let's Play Music Blog:
"Let it Go" from Frozen 
Another fun song for teens to sing along to with a simple repeating I IV V V Chord shell accompaniment is "What Makes You Beautiful" by One Direction.

I have found that when students realize the application of learning chords from the start with familiar tunes, some of them even actually ask to play them more at their lessons instead of regarding them as a form of piano teacher induced torture.

Other Posts in the Series
Post 1: The Value of Singing at Piano Lessons: Beginning Concepts
Post 2: Teaching Technique with Songs
Post 3: Practical Chord Progressions and Transposition
Post 4: Teaching Ear Training through Song
Post 5: Teaching Tempo and Theory through Song
Post 6: Teaching Rhythm through Song
Post 7: Teaching Music History through Song

1 comment:

  1. I believe that familiar folk songs are a great teaching tool. The students love to play familiar melodies, especially the little ones. For older students seek out more sophisticated arrangements of the same great tunes.