Developing I, IV, V
Found in: Accompaniment
Barbara G., Massachusetts
In the Accompaniment 1 Program, when having the student process I, IV, V , is it better to choose one key per week to have the student transpose their accompaniment songs into (i.e. play AGrace, ALSyne, DBoy all in the key of F, then the next week play them all in Ab, etc), or should I assign weekly various keys to individual songs (i.e. one week: AGrace in Eb, ALSyne in F, DBoy in C. Then the next week change the keys on all of them)? The first option seems simpler, but the second option would cover more finding I, IV, V in various keys sooner. Also, do we include the enharmonic keys: C# instead of Db all the time?
Karen T., Illinois
Once my students have learned how to find I, IV, and V, I have them write the appropriate Roman numeral above the chords in Amazing Grace. I assign them to do the same thing at home. Then I assign them to take 12 slips of paper and write one key on each slip. Day one: start with Amazing Grace, and any slip of paper you pulled. Play it in that key, reading the I, IV, and V instead of the chord names. Day two: Auld Lang Syne, new slip of paper. Day three: the next Amazing Grace, new slip of paper. They really get used to thinking in I, IV, and V, and they really get used to NOT reading the chord that is written.
Once they are fluent at this, it will enable them to take any song that is written in those 3 chords, and transpose it on sight to accomodate whoever is singing with them. Does this take a long time? Yes, it certainly does! How long does it take!?! It takes as long as it takes. Is it worth it? Yes, a hundred times over. How many kids do you know who can sit down to accompany at a family sing-along, and lower the key to accomodate Uncle Joe?
I don’t teach enharmonic changes as a specific subject, but once a student KNOWS their 12 major chords (3 shapes), I address the issue on a need-to-know basis, i.e., when it comes up in whatever accompaniment piece they happen to be working on. It’s no big deal, they get the point after the second or third example, and I consistently found that no further instruction was ever needed.