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Free piano lesson 4 - Learn to play two songs PDF Print E-mail
Written by philip   
Thursday, 16 April 2009 13:39


Lesson 1 – Get to know the notes on a piano
Lesson 2 – Basic scale theory
Lesson 3 – Basic chord structures
>  Lesson 4 – Learn to play two songs
Lesson 5 – Practice your ear
Lesson 6 – Notes and fingering
Lesson 7 – Add melody to chords
Lesson 8 – Understanding and expanding chords
Lesson 9 – Harmonic principles and progressions



Before we start, some chord chart theory. Each bar is indicated by |   |

The amount of items (chords or dashes) within a bar indicates the amount of beats within a bar.

E.g. | G - - - | means a G chord is played on the first beat and retained for three more beats.

Since there are four items in this bar, it means that there are four beats in this bar.

E.g. | - D - | means that the previous chord of the previous bar is retained for the first beat, a D is played on the second beat and retained for another beat. Since there are three items within this bar, it means that there are three beats in this bar.




OK, enough theory for now. Let’s play...




Let’s work on two well known songs that have no copyright: “Amazing Grace” and “Oh when the saints.”


Just read through the song first before you attempt to play it. (We explain how to play it below)




In the key of G



| G - - D | G - - -     | - - - -           | C - - -       | G - -

           A- ma- zing grace! how sweet the sound,



-         | Em - - - | A - - -        | D - -

that   saved  a wretch like me!



- | G - - -       | - - - -        | C - - -    | G - -

I   once was lost but   now am   found,



-       | Em - - -    | Am - - D   | G - - - |

was blind but   now I           see.



You should by now be able to work out all the chords (based on Lesson 3). See if you can work them out. You can keep Lesson 3 open on another page for ease of reference.



But if you struggle, here are the notes contained within the chords anyway:

Notes on the piano



G = G B D

D = D F# A

C = C E G

Em = E G B

A = A C# E

Am = A C E



How to play the chords:



For the beginning, the best way to play the chords is to play the chords around the middle of the piano.

Play the chord formula with your right hand and repeat the root note of any chord with your left hand on a lower bass note.

Try to keep your right hand mostly around Middle C (Middle C is the C closest to the middle of the piano) or slightly higher.

Play the chords with fingers 1, 3 and 5, where 1 is your right hand thumb, 3 is your middle finger, and 5 is your little finger (fingering indicators are the same for your left hand: 1 = thumb etc.).

Try to keep your left hand mostly below Middle C (which at this stage only plays one note – the root note) – preferably around two octaves below Middle C (an octave is a complete scale, e.g. from one C to the next C is an octave).




Go back to “Amazing grace” using these guidelines and see if you can practice the song by merely pressing the chords on the right beat – until you can do it fluently on the rhythm. It helps to practice with a metronome to keep within the rhythm. Also try to sing along while you play. This might take some time.




See if you can master Amazing grace in this way.



Congratulations! OK, time to play another song, this time with a bit more complex chords.



Just read through the song first before you attempt to play it. (We explain how to play it below)




| C - - -              | C - - F                    | C - -


Oh, when the saints go marching in




F                      | C -           Am7 -            | Dm7 - Dm7

G                                                                               G

Oh, when the saints go marching         in



G7                 | C -          C7 -          | F - Fm

                                         E                     D

Lord, how I want to be in that number




F                 | C    Am7 Dm7   G9   | C - - - |


When the saints go march- ing   in.







Your first question would probably be: 



“What does F mean?”






This means that you play an F major chord in your right hand (F A C), but in stead of playing an F bass note with your left hand, you play a G. You would call this chord “an F on a G.” That which is beneath the line (G in this case) does not refer to a chord but to a single bass note that should be played together with the chord. Bass guitarists would only play these bottom notes. Obviously, when you see another root note beneath the line, the same principle applies for the other chords.



You should be able to work out all the chords by now. Keep Lesson 3 handy if you get stuck.



Also practice this song simply by pressing the chords on the right beat as with “Amazing Grace.” This will take some time as well, especially the second last measure where you need to change the chord on each beat.



Important! When you practice the chords, try and remember the chords by seeing them in pictures and to try to memorize them in pictures. Notice that your hand formation will look the same for all the chords: C, F, G, Em, Am and Dm (all white notes – same distance from each other). Your hand formation will also look the same for the chords: D, A and E (white notes on top and at the bottom, and a black note in the middle). Can you see this? This will help you to also learn with your right brain. You will notice that your brain will start to recognize and execute the whole chord quicker in this way.



Remember to try and sing along while you play. This also helps for both left and right brain learning.





Practice makes perfect!




If you take your piano playing seriously, you would make sure not to advance to the next lesson before you have mastered these two songs (by pressing the chords on the right beats).





Advance to Lesson 5.