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Chord playing for beginners

By Tim Topham | Pedagogy

Jun 13 2011

chord playing beginners

I normally introduce chord playing for beginners in root position within the first two lessons for a new beginner.

Why?

Simply because playing triads with the RH and octaves or single bass notes in the LH is instantly fun and sounds really musical. It’s also great practice for learning about harmony and common chord progressions.

I normally start with the chords C, Am, F, G which, when arpeggiated and swung with the LH, turn into the ‘secondo’ part of the “Chopsticks” duet based on Night and Day (does it have a real name?).

I also use this opportunity to introduce simple pedalling. After a few weeks, students can normally play duet this quite well and you can start discussing major/minor triads and playing in other keys.

I don’t normally talk about inversions until a few months down the track as there is plenty of challenge in root position!!

After a few simple duets such as the above, I use the following sheet of well-known pieces that are based on relatively simple chord progressions that students can pickup without much hassle. Some involve 7th and slash chords, and if a student choose to play one of those songs, I use that opportunity to explain what 7th/slash chords are and how they work.

Choose a piece with which your student is familiar and let him/her have fun with it without the stress and frustration of beginner note reading.

On this sheet, songs are listed down the LHS and chords on the RHS. (V) = verse, (C) = chorus, (B) = bridge.

Let me know what you think.

All the best 🙂

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Tim Topham

About the Author

Tim Topham is the founder and director of TopMusic. Tim hosts the popular TopCast show, blogs regularly at topmusic.co and speaks at local and international conferences on topics such as pedagogy, business, marketing and entrepreneurship. Tim has been featured in American Music Teacher, The Piano Teacher Magazine, California Music Teacher and EPTA Piano Professional. Tim holds an MBA in Educational Leadership, BMus, DipEd and AMusA.