Since it's back to school time, and I've just started settling back in to my regular teaching schedule, I thought it'd be a good time to share a few teaching resources. These pages were designed to be very easy to follow, even if you're only a beginner at reading music, so if you feel like teaching yourself a tune these might be a good place to start.
This page explains how to play Thinking Out Loud by Ed Sheeran (or Let's Get It On by Marvin Gaye since it's the exact same!) in a very simple way.
A lot of the teenagers I teach listen to Ed Sheeran songs and want to learn them. I'm a big believer in building lesson plans based on the students interests but I also try to encourage them to broaden their musical tastes outside of what's currently in the charts so this tune is the perfect opportunity to introduce them to Motown and Marvin Gaye (although Let's Get It On might not be the right song for younger students, decide yourself what you think is age appropriate). If I think back to what I listened to as a teenager it was really broad, and not all good! I remember I had a book of CDs that I'd bring everywhere with me along with my discman. A few of the CDs that were always in there were: Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald sing Porgy and Bess (I stole it from my Mum), a Craig David album, A Century Ends by David Gray (I stole it from my sister) and a Led Zeplin album (I stole it from my brother...but I have to admit I was never really into Led Zeplin I just pretended coz I thought it'd make cute teenage boys fancy me. If I'd only known the truth; that all teenagers fancy everything that moves). Let's just say some of those albums have stood the test of time better than others!
This song is also a good one for explaining what syncopation means. I've taught so many students who've done music exams and can give me an answer verbatim from a music book when I ask them what syncopation is but if I ask them if they understand what they've just said they just laugh.
With this one the rhythm is as simple as it gets so it's perfect for getting students to sing along. I usually use this as an opportunity to talk about inverted triads i.e. if the student has already learned about triads I ask them to name each triad.
So if you're teaching younger piano students, or you just fee like teaching yourself a song, I hope these help. If there's a particular song you'd like me to make a cheat sheet like this for just leave me a message in the comments or email me at email@example.com. Happy music making!
Ríona Sally Hartman
A blog about all sorts of things like music, books, storytelling and paper art. From time to time I'll interview a fellow musician or review a gig.