How to Create a Piano Lead Sheet from Any Song - Creative Music Education
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How to Create a Piano Lead Sheet from Any Song

By Tim Topham | Creativity

Oct 01

Piano Lead Sheet

I’m a big fan of making sure our students are comfortable playing lead sheets and chord charts.

Why?

Because I want my students to be all-rounders, so they can play a wide variety of music, and I want to deepen my students’ understanding of music.

First of all, if you don’t know the difference of piano lead sheets and chord charts, there’s a blog post about that right here.

Just quickly, a lead sheet has a notated melody line with chord symbols written above and may include words if it’s a song.

Here’s an example!

piano lead sheet

Example Lead Sheet. Credit: markjmartin.com

A Course All About Lead Sheets

I have a full 8-part piano teaching course on lead sheets called Taking the Lead in the Inner Circle.

In this course, the amazing Forrest Kinney teaches us all about chords and lead sheets. 

He shares information on how to make the most popular chords, how to style them in a variety of ways, how to add colour tones to them and how to use them to re-harmonise melodies in fresh ways.

Click here to find out more about the Inner Circle and how a membership could change your teaching business.

9 Reasons to Teach Piano Lead Sheets

Before I show you exactly how to create a piano lead sheet from any song, here’s a quick list of the reasons I teach piano lead sheets, just in case you needed more convincing!

  1. It’s essential for playing in bands
  2. Students gain a deeper understanding of music
  3. Students have the best chance of making a living from music
  4. Students realise there is more than one way to read music
  5. It improves memory and reduces performance anxiety
  6. Gives a good introduction to jazz
  7. It’s a simple way to add creativity and fun
  8. Bridge learning between old and new music
  9. Students can start playing their favourite pop music without resorting to YouTube

Create a Piano Lead Sheet

Okay, let’s learn something new! How to create a piano lead sheet.

Hint: it’s not hard, especially if you already have sheet music you’ve found online.

Lead sheets do not include anything in the left-hand. So you could find piano sheet music online and just remove the left hand completely.

You can buy and print the music out and just cut out all of the right hand, and stick it in a notebook for your students, so they can get used to playing from lead sheets.

But what if you don’t have the music?

You can also search for chord charts.

These are what guitarists would tend to play along with, but piano players should use it too.

Chord charts just have the chords, so you can get your student to sing the melody or learn it by ear.

You can also use HookTheory to help work out the melody and then you can get your students to write the melody into a manuscript.

Here’s the Video

If you’d like to see how I create a piano lead sheet in video form, here’s the YouTube video.

Don’t forget to subscribe to my channel!

Conclusion and Free Download!

Thanks for reading today! If you’d like a head start on how to incorporate lead sheets, pop songs and chords into your lessons, download one of my most popular free resources: Top 10 Pop Songs. 

Just enter your details below!

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Tim Topham

About the Author

Tim Topham has one mission in life: to stem the tide of children quitting music lessons by helping teachers maximise student engagement through creativity, technology and innovation. Tim hosts the popular Creative Piano Teaching Podcast, 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, Californian Music Teacher and EPTA Piano Professional. Tim holds an MBA in Educational Leadership, BMus, DipEd and AMusA.

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