My students love playing the “Four Chord Song.” It’s been a staple in our studio for a couple of years now. Over the past fifty years (and probably even earlier than that), countless songs have used a simple and very catchy four chord progression. The chords are as follows: I – V – vi – IV. Play this progression in any key, and you’ll hear songs like “Let it Be,” “Wagon Wheel,” “Don’t Stop Believing,” and “Poker Face.” The list goes on and on (and on and on and on and on).
Quick Explanation for Students: In the key of C major, the four chord song uses the following order of chords: C – G – Am – F. To figure those chords out, we use the C major scale and build chords upon the notes (or “degrees”) of the scale as shown below:
A Song for All Ages: The Four Chord Song is a great way to introduce chords to elementary students, provided that their hands are strong enough to play all three notes at the same time accurately. It’s also a great way to practice transposition, chord inversions, and improvisation skills with late elementary and advanced students. When I introduce the idea of the Four Chord Song, I like to play this video by Axis of Awesome. (Clean version.)
The Four Chord song is especially fun to teach to adult students. Recently I taught one of my adult students to play the Four Chord Song, and she came back the following week singing the words of different songs while she played! She played chords in the right hand, and single bass notes in the left hand. It sounded great, and was really fun to play.
Here’s a free worksheet that students can use to practice the Four Chord Song. It includes both keyboards AND treble and bass staves so that students can practice learning the chords in a variety of ways. Click on the image below to use the PNG, or CLICK HERE to download the PDF file.
Happenings in the Studio: The summer schedule started yesterday, and our new scheduling system seems to be working really well so far. Last week I started to clean out and prepare the new Group Lesson Room — there are floors to scrub, windows to clean, and walls and cabinets to paint. I’ll detail more about my progress in the near future.
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