Top 10 Pop Songs

This is the start of an instructional page to help you play the booklet you have been sent: Tim Topham’s Top 10 Pop Songs For Beginner Piano Students.

I’ve posted a YouTube video of each tune so you can hear what it sounds like.

Here’s how I’d approach learning these tunes:

  1. Print out your Top 10 booklet.
  2. Watch my instructional video to help you figure out HOW read the music in the booklet. I’ve included what I’d do for the first 3 songs.
  3. Listen to the YouTube song, or look it up on Spotify. Get a good feel of the song and how it sounds.
  4. Use the Instructional video to help you with the first songs. Do ONE at a time! Pause the video to practice each step.
  5. Play it through a few times, making sure you keep a STEADY BEAT. See if you and your family can sing along! If they don’t need to pause, it means you’re probably keeping a steady beat.

QUICK INSTRUCTIONS BEFORE YOU START

Each of these songs use CHORDS. I describe how to use chords for the first three tunes in the book. You can use the same principles to figure out the rest of the songs.

HOW TO PLAY THE CHORDS

Basically, I recommend using a SINGLE FINGER chord with your LEFT HAND. This means just play the root note of the chord. If it is a C chord, you play a C. If it’s an A minor chord, you play an A.

The RIGHT HAND plays the full chord, either all at once or broken up in different styles as we’ve explored before: https://cristycoates.wordpress.com/2017/09/30/creating-your-own-pop-tune-lesson-two/

Most of the chords use ALL WHITE KEYS.

READING THE CHORDS

If a chord has just one letter, like C, G or F, it means it is a MAJOR chord.

If a chord has an ‘m’ in it, like Am, Dm or Em, it means it is a MINOR chord.

If a chord has a ‘7’ at the end, it means play a flattened 7th note of the scale (look at your Finger Exercises & Scales book). It is fine to just play the normal major chord instead.

FIGURING OUT CHORDS

If you need help figuring out any tricky chords, use your Finger Exercises & Scales Booklet. A chord is made up of the FIRST, THIRD and FIFTH notes of each scale. You need to check if it’s a MAJOR or MINOR scale, and look at that one in your booklet (or it will sound wrong!).

INSTRUCTIONAL VIDEO

THE TUNES

LET IT BE- THE BEATLES

LEAN ON ME- BILL WITHERS

HALLELUJAH- LEONARD COHEN This is Jeff Buckley’s version Notice it’s 6 beats per bar.

HEY JUDE- THE BEATLES Starts at the 55 second mark.

CLOCKS- COLD PLAY

PIANO MAN- BILLY JOEL Note it’s 3 beats per bar.

SIMPSON’S THEME

JAMES BOND THEME

PINK PANTHER

HOTEL CALIFORNIA- THE EAGLES

HOUSE OF THE RISING SUN- THE ANIMALS Notice the 6 beats per bar.

YOU RAISE ME UP- made famous by Josh Gorban

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Halloween for Junior Primary

Welcome back to Term 4!

Our JP students have started the term with a game of Dinosaurs & Dragons.

We then clapped and played these rhythms on the note D:

Rhythm Cards

Rhythm Cards (2)

This turned into a rhyme, which we added notes to.

(Please note: in order for the rhythms to make sense, the second & forth lines should have the word ‘Yeah!’ at the end!).

Halloween HalloweenLet's go Trick or Treat!

Here’s how to play it, as demonstrated by Alex:

 

It’s Holiday Time!

Well, we made it to the end of another exciting term of music!

I wanted to do a bit of a ‘Round Up’ in pictures, so here goes….

GRADE 2-4s

We started a BRAND NEW Monster Munching Music Adventure, collecting coins for achieving certain practice goals:

  1. Sight Reading
  2. Scales & Finger Exercises
  3. Main Piece (extra coins given for every 30 minutes of practice)

Everyone seemed to love the new challenge, and I want to CONGRATULATE each and every person for their hard work and dedication. For some people, that has meant establishing a more consistent home practice. Other students have made sure they have practised ALL of the goals asked for. Others have upped their own ante!

I wanted to acknowledge some students who have worked EXTRA hard to ensure they had completed each task every week, and completed it to the absolute best of their ability. Some students have put in 90-120 minutes of practice each week, which I really want to celebrate! What an amazing effort!

To acknowledge their dedication, I’ve posted some of their extraordinary Monster Coin Collections below. This isn’t to discourage every child’s effort- I celebrate the success of each and every student!

And some students have been away with illness, holidays and all sorts of things. Others have practiced their main piece really well but consistently forgot the other components of their coin gathering tasks. Others got on board a little later in the term and have been SUPER consistent since then. Well done to all!

At the same time, I just wanted to acknowledge some students’ consistent, dedicated efforts which have shown in their Coin Collection. Well done, everyone!

Please note the photo collection below is randomly generated and not in any particular order.

Links to Important Tutorials

This has been a term of Pop Tunes!

Alongside songs of their own choice in preparation for our Pop Concert, most students have also been learning that Adele classic, ‘Someone Like You‘.

We’ve done this for a for reasons:

  1. It’s a fun piece to play!
  2. It uses musical patterns that can be memorised.
  3. It’s a great introduction to important musical concepts, such as keeping a steady beat and MOST importantly, CHORDS.
  4. We used the concept of chords to create our own Pop Song! It’s a great way to start to understand how music is created and structured.

To help people remember what they’re doing, I’ve created tutorial pages for each of these activities. Simply click on the images below!

Someone Like You    create your own pop song LESSON ONE   create your own pop song LESSON TWO   create your own pop song LESSON THREE

JUNIOR STUDENTS

Incy Wincy BookOur little ones have been having fun with Incy Wincy themed music and activities this term!

I created quite a few resources for you, which you can access by clicking the image of the Itsy Bitsy Spider book to the left.

I hope these resources have been fun and useful!

Here’s a few musical experiences we’ve been having of late…

Rhythm Matching Game

Students had to choose a number, flip the card and play the rhythm using ‘body percussion’. They then balanced their way down the string acting as the animal next to their card. They had to find the matching rhythm at the other end of the string and play it with their percussion instrument. This became the start of a tune for some students.

Match the Values

Students then had to sort out notes and rests into their beat values.

Spiders

They did the Match the Note Values game again in another lesson to help them play ‘Spiders’- a musical version of the good ‘ole dice game, ‘Beetles’.

They walked away with their very own Incy Wincy Spider!

And that wraps up another fabulous term of music!

Have a wonderful holiday break and I’ll see you bright and bubbly next term as we prepare for our Pop Concert in Week 4 🙂

Creating Your Own Pop Tune Lesson Three

create your own pop songOver the past weeks, we’ve been creating a Pop Tune of your very own!

To do this, we learned a little bit about something called the Circle of Fifths, which pretty much most modern and Classical music is based on. You can find Lesson One here. We created something called a Chord Progression for a Verse and a Chorus. The Right Hand played each chord four times in each bar, while the Left Hand held the Root Note.

In Lesson 2, we listened to a variety of music from popular artists to hear how chords can be played in all sorts of interesting ways. You were asked to try each style of playing with your chord progression, then choose one style for the Verses, and one for the Chorus.

LEARNING CHECK-OFF

There are TWO things that you should be able to do before moving on with this lesson.

You should have:

  1. A chord progression that you’re happy with, written on your ‘Creating Tunes’ print out, with the STYLE you have chosen to play the Verse & Chorus written on the sheet.
  2. Practiced enough to play the chord progression smoothly with a steady beat with both hands.

Once you have BOTH of these things down pat, you’re ready for today’s lesson!

PLAYING

This week, we’re hopefully making things a little easier for your fingers by exploring how to rearrange your chords. This is known as inverting chords.

Here’s what I mean….

YOUR NEXT STEPS ARE:

  1. Figure out the notes in your chords. Write them on a piece of paper or whiteboard.
  2. Watch the Tutorial about how to apply the style to your own piece below. In a Nutshell: Circle the notes that are the same in each chord, then experiment with where to place the notes that ARE NOT the same so your hand doesn’t need to move around so much. Often, you’ll find the notes that aren’t the same are quite close to each other.
  3. Try your OWN chord progression with the NEW chord positions, using the STYLE of chords you’ve chosen for the Verse & Chorus (e.g. ‘Someone Like You’ style, or ‘Talking to the Moon’ style).

That’s it for now!

Have a WONDERFUL holiday and I’ll see you again next term 🙂

Creating Your Own Pop Tune- Lesson TWO

create your own pop songLast week, we started creating our very own Pop Song.

To do this, we learned a little bit about something called the Circle of Fifths, which pretty much most modern and Classical music is based on. You can find Lesson One here.

LEARNING CHECK-OFF

There are TWO things that you should be able to do before moving on with this lesson.

You should have:

  1. A chord progression that you’re happy with, written on your ‘Creating Tunes’ print out.
  2. Practiced enough to play the chord progression smoothly with a steady beat with both hands. The Right Hand is played four times with the Left Hand playing a single chord (root note).

Once you have BOTH of these things down pat, you’re ready to race onto the next step!

PLAYING

This week, we listened to various pieces of music with strong piano parts based on chords. We then applied the style of chord playing to our chord progression.

I’ve put the links to YouTube videos of the original songs, with a short tutorial about how to put it into practice for your own chord progression.

Your NEXT STEPS are:

  1. Look and listen to the introductions of each YouTube clip so you can hear the piano chords and the way they are played. Do this ONE at a time.
  2. Watch the Tutorial about how to apply the style to your own piece.
  3. Try your OWN chord progression of each song.

STYLE ONE: ‘LET IT BE’ (The Beatles)

The first NEW style we tried was from this classic Beatles tune. It uses TWO chords per bar, instead of FOUR.

Make it your own for your Pop Tune:

Try it out with your chord progression and see if you like it (both hands, please!)

STYLE TWO: ‘SOMEONE LIKE YOU’ (Adele) + REVERSE

Most students have been learning this big Adele hit. You can find out how to play it over here. We can use the same style of breaking up the chord with any chord progression. In musical terms, this is called an ‘arpeggio‘.

Some students also figured out you can do a reverse version of the Adele style. You can see more in the tutorial video.

Try it with your Pop Tune:

Here’s a different version of using arpeggios to create beautiful music (you don’t have to try it- it’s just to show you what CAN be done!):

STYLE THREE: ‘TALKING TO THE MOON’ (Bruno Mars)

This popular Bruno Mars tune breaks up chords differently again. I couldn’t find a link to a suitable official Bruno Mars version, so I’ve posted this Voice Kids official site link. Have a listen here:

Try the FOUR different versions we figured out of ‘Talking to the Moon’ style playing:

STYLE FOUR: ‘SKINNY LOVE’ (Birdy version)

This chord progression uses just ONE of each chord per bar (technically, it’s two chords per bar, but only one of each chord 🙂 ). This Birdy version uses an arpeggiated chord- it’s played much more quickly than we did in Someone Like You, and in a particular way which you can see in the tutorial section.

You might even hear some of the other chord styles we’ve used as you listen through the song!

Try it out on your chord progression:

STYLE FIVE: ‘NEVER TEAR US APART’ (INXS)

So far, we’ve only tried styles using 4 beats per bar. This keyboard introduction to the famous INXS song uses 6 beats per bar.

Give it a go with your own chord progression:

 

Now that you’ve tried each version, see how you’d like to arrange your Pop Tune:

Write it down so you remember, perhaps something like this….

20170922_090724[1]

Practice your NEW version of your Pop Tune chord progression until it’s smooth with a steady beat.

Okay- that’s all for this lesson! See you next time 🙂

 

Creating Your Own Pop Tune- Lesson ONE

create your own pop song

This week, we’ve started creating our very own Pop Song!

To do this, we learned a little bit about something called the Circle of Fifths, which pretty much most modern and Classical music is based on.

We used the Circle of Fifths to create what’s called a ‘Chord Progression’, which is the foundation of popular music.

PRINTING

You should have your own copy, but if you need a new one, or you’d like to create more pop chord progressions, simply CLICK on the image above and print away!

PLAYING

To start with, this week we are playing each chord FOUR times with the right hand, while the left hand holds the ‘root note’ of the chord. The Root Note is simply the note the chord is named after. For instance, a ‘C’ chord has the root note ‘C’. An ‘Em’ (E Minor) chord has the root note ‘E’.

To play the right hand chord, you simply use your thumb to play the root note, then skip a note, and skip another note. Play them all together. A ‘C’ chord would be C E G. An Em chord would be E G B.

Because we are creating a tune based on the C Major scale, there are NO sharps or flats (black notes) to worry about when you play the chords. You’ll only need white notes.

I created this short video to help remind you of how to begin playing your new piece:

 

That’s lesson one for creating your own Pop Song!

A piece that gives a really good example of how chords are used to create fabulous popular music is Adele’s ‘Someone Like You’, that many of you have been learning.

Click the image below to find everything you need to know about how to play the piano accompaniment for this famous piece

Someone Like You

Someone Like You

Here’s all the info you need to successfully play Adelle’s ‘Someone like You’….

STEP ONE

Get familiar with the piece.

Listen to the song on your device of choice, or have at look at Adelle’s music video.

STEP TWO

Print out your music:

someone like you MUSIC PDF button

And your lyrics, if you’d like…

Someone Like You

STEP THREE

Know the order to learn the piece in.

Learn the piece in this order:

  1. Verse
  2. Chorus
  3. Bridge

STEP FOUR

Know what you’re aiming for.

You are looking to play the piece

  • smoothly, fluently, and with feeling
  • keeping a steady beat

To do this, you will need to use some practice strategies

We’ve been using the practice strategies from The Curious Piano Teachers.

Learning Strategy 1: The Magic 3 Strategy 

  • Break the music into smaller chunks and practice each part until you can play it correctly THREE times in a row.
  • Do this first with JUST the right hand, then JUST the left hand, then JOIN them together.
  • Practice the next part in the same way, then use your Magic 3 to put the two sections together.
  • Keep going through each small section, joining each section to the next, until you’ve mastered the whole verse, then the whole chorus, then the whole bridge, then the whole song.

This piece is easy to break into small chunks! Your printed copy has four keyboards on each page. Each keyboard show you ONE chord pattern. Each chord pattern is the small section to learn and memorize.

Learning Strategy 2: Snail Speed

  • To help you keep a steady beat (and learn the chord patterns correctly), GO SLOWLY
  • Use a metronome or beat keeping device on your keyboard.

STEP FIVE

Use the YouTube tutorials to help you decipher, understand and play the music.

You’ll notice the Verse & Chorus have a different version of ‘sheet music’. Use your PDF from this page, and you’ll notice it’s still the same patterns- just easier to understand 🙂

Remember:

  • Stop & play each section until you get the hang of it
  • Pause the tutorial whenever you need to
  • Stop the tutorial and practice joining each section together, once you’ve learned a new section

Verse

Chorus

Bridge

Incy Wincy Spider

INCY WINCY SPIDER

Incy Wincy Book

The book we were working with this term is called ‘Itsy Bitsy Spider’ by Kate Toms. It’s a great story about problem solving and perseverance. The collaged illustration are gorgeous!

LEARNING OBJECTIVES

There are a mix of rote learning and music reading pieces for Incy Wincy.

The simple music reading pieces in the booklet are designed to help recognize patterns both on the page and the piano, and how they relate to each other:

  • when the music on the page goes UP, the notes go UP on the piano;
  • if the written music goes DOWN, the notes on the piano goes DOWN.

(you should have a printed copy, but you can print another if you need, by clicking the image to the left).

This is to help students begin to learn how music reading and playing work together.

The aim is for smooth, fluent playing. There’s lots of pitch games, singing and note singing that we use to help with this.

Other pieces are rote learning pieces, which help children to:

  • develop musical understanding
  • recognise and learn patterns
  • develop memory skills by remember patterns and their order
  • listen to their playing, how their piece sounds
  • play musically and fluently
  • remain motivated and engaged in playing the piano
  • increase concentration
  • evoke creativity
  • develop technique
  • actually help children develop music reading skills (!)

 

PURCHASE

I purchased the rhyming picture book from a cheap shop for under $5 a few years ago. You can try purchasing it here if you’d like a copy for home.

PRINT

Click on the picture to the left to download a copy of the PRINT version, in case your child has lost their copy.

There are copies of the single page sheets next to the tutorials, too.

WHAT WE DID

You’ll see some of the ways we used the book as a guide as we play the song on the video below.

VIDEO TUTORIAL

There’s a few tutorials for the Incy Wincy songs:

THE SPIDER SONG (main piece)

The rest of the pieces and PDFs can be found on the comprehensive newsletter here.

 

 

We’re Going On An Egg Hunt

WE’RE GOING ON AN EGG HUNT

we-re-going-on-an-egg-huntIn Term 1, we worked with the Laura Hughes’ book ‘We’re Going on an Egg Hunt’.

It’s a great rhyming book, with plenty of repetition. Rhyme and repetition make for fantastic musical pieces!

LEARNING OBJECTIVES

This is a ‘rote’ learning piece, where the child learns to play it by copying and memory.

I created a simple PDF to help with visual memory, which you can download by clicking on the book image to the left.

Rote learning pieces help children to:

  • develop musical understanding
  • recognise and learn patterns
  • develop memory skills by remember patterns and their order
  • listen to their playing, how their piece sounds
  • play musically and fluently
  • remain motivated and engaged in playing the piano
  • increase concentration
  • evoke creativity
  • develop technique
  • actually help children develop music reading skills (!)

Reading music for young people involves so many skills. They are usually so focussed on recognising and playing the correct notes that listening skills and musicality are hindered. It is not that learning to read music is not important, it is simply that other skills, such as LISTENING and PLAYING MUSICALLY also need developing.

For more information, you might like to check out Dr. Julie Knerr and Katherine Fisher’s article over here.

There’s also an interesting PodCast with creative Ozzie piano teacher, Tim Topham and Amy Greer over here.

PURCHASE

Just before Easter, I purchased the rhyming picture book from Kmart for $10, and created a simple tune out of it. You can try purchasing it here if you’d like a copy for home.

PRINT

Click on the picture to the left to download a copy of the PRINT version, in case your child has lost their copy.

WHAT WE DID

You’ll see some of the ways we used the book as we play the song on the video below.

  • This is a piece for BOTH hands using groups of THREE black notes.
  • There are TWO simple patterns to remember- one goes DOWN, the other goes UP.
  • These patterns alternate with each page turn.
  • The pictures are a huge part of the experience! Your child will love showing you the different pictures, anticipating which animals are coming next, where the ‘shadowy’ figure is (the wolf’s tail keeps appearing on each egg collecting page), counting the eggs collected so far, counting the eggs that drop out of the basket as the bunnies run away (and if the eggs left match the eggs on the last page).
  • We used an Easter Hunt game to find the note D on the piano.
  • We played Dinosaurs and Dragons to help consolidate our memory of the note D.

 

VIDEO TUTORIAL

There’s a YouTube tutorial of Jethro playing along with me over here: https://youtu.be/_nn3K3OBAmg

 

INTRODUCING ‘D’

I used this game as part of my ‘We’re Going on an Egg Hunt’ rote learning piece. It’s a great way to introduce or reaffirm the note ‘D’ for young learners.

YOU WILL NEED

  • Plastic Eggs that break in half from a cheap store
  • Miniature plastic Dinosaurs that fit on piano keys
  • Basket
  • We’re Going on an Egg Hunt book by Laura Hughes

WHAT TO DO

  1. Place a dinosaur in 9 eggs and hide them around the room. You’ll end up with 9 eggs after the excitement of the last and tenth egg in the book, if that’s what you’re using.
  2. Play the ‘We’re going on an egg hunt’ page with the student, and open the flaps to see how many eggs to gather. The student then finds that many eggs and collects them in a basket.
  3. Play the next pages until it’s time to collect eggs again.
  4. Students will not collect an egg for the last, big egg. Go straight onto the next pages and finish the song. It’s quite exciting!
  5. Once the piece is finished, open the eggs to find the DINOSAURS. Ask which letter the word DINOSAUR starts with.
  6. Show that the note D is between a group of TWO black notes on the piano.

D7. Ask your child to place a dinosaur on every D they can find on the piano.

This is a great way to lead into a game of Dinosaurs and Dragons.