***UPDATE: Scroll down to watch a free 1-hour training all about how to teach your students using chords***
All month we have explored the importance of composition in the piano studio. Now, I am excited to share with you an online course which I have been spending heaps of time creating over the past months.
It’s called my 4 Chord Composing course. The following post will explain why teaching chords and composition is so vital. Also, at the end of the post you will be able to find the first three modules of my course available as a free download.
And, if you’d like access to the full course, you’ll be able to find details at the end of this article on how you can get a limited 30% discount on my annual Inner Circle membership. Enjoy!
This 10-week 4 Chord Composing Plan is designed to introduce any student to the fun and power of a chord-based approach to playing and creating music at the piano.
Just about all music (from baroque and classical to jazz, pop and rock) is based on chords and yet explicit instruction around the chord-based nature of music – how it works, the theory behind it and how to create it – seldom enters a traditional piano lesson.
The power of chords to assist students in the reading and performance of traditional music, not to mention the deep theoretical understanding that a chord-based knowledge of music brings to a musician, is critical to a pianist’s sight-reading ability, understanding of musical genres, ability to improvise and understanding of form and structure.
Chord-based teaching provides a bridge between written musical theory textbooks and the practice of making music. It gives students a practical demonstration of, and immersion in, the theory through a student’s real-world love and innate understanding of popular music.
Put simply, this teaching approach connects students with the theory in a practical and meaningful way, using musical structures they innately know and understand.
If you’d like your students to be able to read music more fluently, to be able to compose their own music and improvise out of trouble when performing, if you’d like them to be able to read a chord chart, fill in a left hand and accompany themselves as they sing, if you’d like your students to play in bands and have the best chance of making music for the rest of their life, then this program is for you.
4 Chord Composing introduces students (and teachers) to an understanding of the chordal structure of music, chord progressions, chord types, melody, scales, patterns and rhythm through the context of composing mainly 4 chord progressions.
4 Chord Composing may be introduced within the first couple of weeks of lessons, depending on the student’s age, maturity and hand size for playing chords.
If teaching beginner teens and adults, I use the content of Lesson 1 at the first or second lesson and continue this chord-based journey regularly in lessons. Older students really respond to a chord-based approach alongside traditional note reading and technical work.
The lesson plans and content are based on my own experience of what works. It is a very broad-based teaching plan and will depend very much on the speed at which your student is comprehending the material. It’s much better to do a few things per lesson well and leave students wanting more than trying to squash too much in at once and overwhelming them.
There is probably enough content in this 10-lesson plan for a year of work if you only spend 15 minutes per lesson on the material. It all depends on the time you have available, the goals you’ve set for your students and your student’s motivations.
Check out Lesson 1 of my 4 Chord Composing course right here. It’s all about introducing major and minor chords into your lessons.
While there is a lot of instruction around chords and students will learn heaps about music in this process, all the exploring is through students’ own chord-based compositions. I believe composing (creating progressions) is the best way to learn about the theory of music and help students when playing other pop songs and written pieces.
Remember to keep pointing out the connections between the theory that you know (eg. cadences, leading notes, tonic/dominant relationships, good vs. bad melodies, major vs. minor, etc.) and what students are learning as it won’t necessarily be obvious.
This course will sharpen your students’ ears as long as you ask more questions than you dictate answers or solve problems. Students will need to listen much more actively to their playing in order to find out the best progressions and melodies.
Please be aware that if you print out these lesson plans, you won’t be able to access the hyperlinks which I’ve provided to supplementary information and teaching videos, so I suggest you save an online copy for reference even if you print this out for teaching.
I hope you have as much fun exploring this material with your students as I do on a daily basis.
Here is Lesson 2 in my 10-part course. This video will show you how to incorporate a chordal approach to teaching and connect it with pop piano playing. Enjoy!
Let me help you inspire your students with chord-based composing they will love!
I’ve created a free 1-hour training workshop on this style of teaching. It’s one of my all-time most popular webinars and I’d love for you to check it out today.
In the training, I’ll show you my creative lesson ideas, why chords are not just about having fun and show you how easy it is to get your students to explore chords plus plenty more.
I’ll cover the content of Lessons 1 – 3 of my “4 Chord Composing” course, providing you full lesson plan downloads and a number of exclusive bonuses including your Certificate of Professional Development.
Sound like something you might be interested in?
Click on the button below to find out when the free training is being held.Register Now
You can have the first three lessons in my 10-week 4 Chord Composing right now! Feel free to download these lessons and implement chordal teaching in your studio.
If you’ve enjoyed the content of these lessons and want to know how to continue teaching in this way, then make sure you check out the rest of this course.
These lessons are just the tip of the iceberg and a part of my 10-part “4 Chord Composing” course that is available right now in my Inner Circle Community.
Here are the modules you’ll be able to access straight away:
You can get access today and take 30% off an annual membership by using the coupon code 4CCGETSTARTED when you register. Click here to find out more and make sure you select the Annual Plan to take advantage of this offer.
For more information and videos about teaching with chords, head to timtopham.com/chords.
Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoy my 4 Chord Composing online course. I’ll see you in the Inner Circle!
Best-known for his blogging and teaching, Tim is also a well-respected presenter, performer and accompanist based in Melbourne, Australia. You can check him out on Google+, Facebook and Twitter.