More on Accompaniment Selections
Found in: Accompaniment
Patty D., California
I am looking for resources for the Accompaniment Program….Everything I found had a full on piano score and the chords – too much to work with. I really want just the melody with the chords. Any suggestions?
Ginny W., Western Australia
I’m not sure how you might resolve the issue of accessing local shops that stock sheet music or Christian music, other than perhaps finding something online, but I am happy to provide the following observations regarding the use and layout of popular music scores.
As long as the chords are clearly there, I don’t see a problem with using a full piano score (although it does tend to appear visually ‘busier’ than those with a single note melody line, and there is a process involved in learning to read the flow of the piece from the page). Although some sheet music and books have melody and chords only, a lot of the original arrangements of popular music have both melody line (treble line, usually the one at the top) and a piano part (treble and bass for our two-handed instrument) below this, as well as chords which I believe are provided primarily for guitarists. I find the latter useful, and better value, since it allows for the possibility of playing the full piano version at some future point, as well as treating the song as accompaniment only by following the chords. Having said that, some of the ‘fake books’ are fine, excellent value for money and provide lots of variety (my only criticism of them is that sometimes there appear to be typographic errors with some of the chords which I have to hand alter!).
I believe it’s really important that, within their ability to do so, students start playing songs that they know, love and enjoy, and that whoever is doing the singing or melody feels the same way (it’s sometimes hard enough getting parents to sing without insisting on something they cannot identify with) even if I don’t particularly love and enjoy them myself! My students seem happy to choose from books which have a few songs in them, or a compilation of songs that they know they would be happy to draw from for a while and they are usually better value as an investment than a single song score (although some songs are only availalable individually, such as recent chart busters).
I guess the beauty of popular music is that it is more or less infinite and there will always be songs that cover the full spectrum, from simple to advanced, using all the tools from the Simply Music accompaniment toolkit, which after all were designed for this very purpose. The Beatles are widely favored among my students (even kids love playing songs like Yellow Submarine) and so diverse that a student can usually apply most of the accompaniment skills they know to one compilation book. Then there are more contemporary pop bands and ballad singers, or songs from films. For example, I have purchased ‘display’ copies of a few songs including current Australian artists such as Delta Goodrem, Missie Higgins and Jet to illustrate what is possible (I often incorporate a demonstration and conversation about these into an intro session, because it tends to switch on a lightbulb for students and parents about what we are offering and where it can lead).
The trick, however, is to find songs that correspond with a student’s current skills. I’m assuming that, if a student has reached Level 4, and is ready to play non-set accompaniment songs, then they are already familiar and confidently play a bunch of chords solidly, plus seventh chords and rhythmic variations applicable to Level 1-3 accompaniments. I tend to be introducing the Accompaniment Program around the end of Level 3, or at least when they have covered She’ll be Comin’ Round the Mountain with its fun ‘B-R-T-R’ rhythm.
So, often a student already has quite a swag of chords, having memorized the major triad shapes as their first Accompaniment Program project and can borrow some of their solidly-known rhythms and variations. This sometimes requires a conversation about which rhythms and ratios, 7th chords etc. seem to suit the mood and flavor of a given song. I make suggestions about what I think sounds good and ask them to try it that way, then encourage the student to experiment with what they have in their ‘toolkit’. I also have no problem with making minor modifications to chords on the page if required, eg to simplify a song for which the student doesn’t currently know absolutely all the more advanced chords or their variations as they appear on the original score (eg ignoring the split chord between left and right hand and reverting to conventional chord for both hands).
I will just add that I love, love, love accompaniment and, through teaching SM to others over the past three years, something has really started to crystalize recently in my own playing and transposition of accompaniments (my own songs as a singer-songwriter and other people’s as a music -lover).
Cindy B., Illinois
There’s a book called “150 songs with just 3 Chords”.
I love this book – has a great variety of folk, patriotic, religious, holiday tunes that are mostly familiar even to kids, and they AREN’T all in the key of C. There are minor and 7th chords but nothing harder. I don’t recall seeing split chords either. Unless a student of mine has his own music, I require this one once all the white note chords are comfie and the black note chords are getting there.
Lynn F., North Carolina
I found a wonderful book published by Hal Leonard called: “Get America Singing…Again!”.
Some of the songs have chords that are basic I/IV/V but others have some variety – enough to make the book well worth the cost. I have purchased these and given them to many of my students when they have learned their triads well and are progressing with the other chord formations. There is something for everyone in this book- from patriotic to folk to Broadway (see the website for an index) – and my students and I have enjoyed working with the songs immensely.
Cheryl G., Pennsylvania
I have a book called ’60 hits from the movies’ arranged by Richard Bradley with interesting chords, not just I, IV and V.
Some of the songs: The Rose, My Funny Valentine, Embraceable You, Over the Rainbow, Send in the Clowns, Wonderful World………..
A Warner Brothers book.