Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Free Printable Music Theory Poster and Games: Teaching Chord Qualities

Chord Qualities Major minor augmented diminished

Seeing Chord Shapes 

A picture is worth a thousand words... at least if you are a visual learner like me!  This poster for teaching chord qualities in my music studio makes the differences between chords stand out a bit more.  
We've been playing several games this past month to review the half step patterns in chords.  At first glance when students see 3 skipping notes on the piano, it may look like the notes are the same distance apart, but counting the half steps between the keys helps them determine the chord quality. 
  • Major (4+3), 
  • Minor (3+4), 
  • Diminished (3+3) 
  • Augmented (4+4).

Hearing Chord Qualities

Chords have a distinct sound or mood. 
  • Major sounds Happy
  • Minor sounds Sad or Spooky
  • Diminished sounds Creepy because of the "devil's interval" or tritone
  • Augmented sounds Tense or Suspenseful

Ear Training Activity: Snowman Interval

Listen to the root chord played by your teacher (or on teoria) and strike a pose for the chord you heard.
  • Major=Stand Up Happily
  • Minor-Crouch Down with a Sad Face
  • Diminished - Melt to the Ground
  • Augmented - Stand on Your Tippy Toes with a Crazy Face

More Online Chord ID Practice

For more practice hearing and identifying chords choose from the following activities on

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Free Resources for Teaching 7th Chord Inversions

V7 chords can be a bit tricky for students because they are often introduced in many different ways.  Most method books start with an easier first inversion of  V7 chords that omits a few chord tones for easier playing. 

This 7th chord poster makes it easier to spot the roots and intervals to identify 7th chords and their inversions.

Quick Tips for Identifying V7 Chords

Look for the interval of the 2nd.  My teacher always called these the "bumps" because one note is bumped to the side. The top "bump"  is the letter name or root of the chord.

To identify the inversion, imagine the notes are running a race to the top of the staff. 
  • In first inversion the "root bump" is in 1st place. 
  • For 2nd inversion the "bump" falls to 2nd place.
  • For 3rd inversion the "bump" is in 3rd place.

V7 chords are often followed by a I chord in music. The interval of a 2nd in the V7 chord provides the tension and I chord feels like you are returning home to peace.

V7-Root Position 7th Chord

7th chords can also be identified by the intervals of the "bump notes."

7th chords in root position are easy to spot because they look like a tall snowman with four snowballs instead of the three you see stacked up in a triad.  The root is on the bottom and with the highest note a 7th above it.

V6/5-1st Inversion 7th Chord

 The root jumps up to the top of the chord in first inversion.

The resulting intervals are a 3rd, 5th and 6th.  

The abbreviated chord symbol is V6/5

V4/3-2nd Inversion 7th Chord

Intervals above the lowest note include a 3rd, 4th and 6th. 
The abbreviated chord symbol is V4/3

V2-3rd Inversion 7th Chord

Intervals above the lowest note include a 2nd, 4th and 6th
The abbreviated chord symbol is V2

Additional Resources for Learning About 7th chords

Music Inversion Images

7th Chord Inversion Video Tutorial Inversion ID game