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Ultimate Guide for Tuning Guitars

How to Tune a Guitar – Easy Tricks and Pro Tips

Ultimate Guide for Tuning Guitars

What’s the first thing you should do every time you pick up a guitar? Resist the urge to shred for a moment, and make sure you’re in tune.

If you’re just beginning to play the guitar, an out-of-tune instrument can be incredibly frustrating and make every note sound like a mistake. Knowing how to tune a guitar properly will ensure that you always sound your best when you play.

This guide will teach you exactly how to tune a guitar using several different methods so that you can play like a pro.

How to Tune a Guitar

The mechanics of tuning a guitar are simple. To adjust the pitch of a string, turn the string’s corresponding tuning key on the head of the guitar. (Hint: here’s our guide to the parts of a guitar).

Turning the tuning key away from you will tighten the string and raise its pitch. Conversely, turning the tuning key toward you will loosen the string and lower its pitch.

How to Tune Using Standard Guitar Tuning

Most guitarists tune their instruments to “standard tuning.” If you’re just beginning to play and aren’t sure which tuning to use, you should stick with standard tuning for now. As you get more comfortable with your instrument, feel free to experiment with other tunings to achieve different sounds with the guitar.

The strings on the guitar are numbered one through six, starting with the highest string.

Guitar String Tuning Notes

You’ll commonly name the strings in ascending order, starting with string six: E, A, D, G, B, E. Take a look at the following image to see to which note each string should be tuned. Note that your highest and lowest strings are both E, the same note spaced two octaves apart.

Each note corresponds to the pitch your string should produce when played open, without holding down any of the frets. When you’re tuning, it’s best to start with the sixth string and work your way down.

How to Tune Guitar with a Chromatic or Pitch Tuner

When you’re learning how to tune a guitar, it’s very important to have a reliable method of finding the right pitch for each string. Most guitarists either use an electronic tuner, app, or another instrument. Each method comes with pros and cons.

For most beginners, using a tuner is the simplest way to find the right pitch for your guitar. Tuners come in a few different varieties. Chromatic tuners “hear” the note you’re playing and display the pitch your string is currently tuned to. You will be able to see if your guitar is sharp or flat, and also see when you’ve adjusted the string to the correct note. Here’s a video to show what this process looks like:

Pitch tuners play the pitch for each string, and you must match each note by ear. You can also get a tuning fork, which you strike to produce the correct pitch for your guitar string. If you happen to be near your computer when the need to tune arises, it’s easy to find a free online guitar tuner, such as this one by Fender. There are also plenty of “tune my guitar” apps available on your smartphone.

If you do decide to invest in a tuner or tuning fork, ask yourself if you’re a more visual person or if you’ve developed an “ear” for musical notes and intervals. Visual people and beginning musicians will benefit greatly from the use of a chromatic tuner, and over time may begin to develop a better ear for music by using a tuner as a guide.

If you feel confident in your ability to hear and distinguish pitch (or if you like a challenge), you might be happier with a tuning fork or a tuner that plays pitch.

SEE ALSO: 5 Basic Guitar Chords and 20 Easy Songs for Beginners

How to Tune a Guitar Without a Pitch Tuner

If you find yourself playing solo without a tuner, you can make a guitar sound decent by tuning it “to itself.” Check out this helpful tutorial or follow the steps below.

Start with your sixth string held down on the fifth fret. You’re now playing an A on your E string. Adjust your fifth string, the A string, until your A string played open matches the pitch of the E string played on the fifth fret. It can be helpful to hum the correct note as you tune your open string, so you can hear if the string is tuned too tight or loose.

Next, tune your D string to match the pitch of your A string played on the fifth fret. You can continue tuning each string to the fifth fret of the string above it, except for the B string. To tune your B string, hold the G string down on the fourth fret. If each string is tuned to the correct interval from the next string, your guitar will sound fine by itself.

How to Tune a Guitar by Matching Pitch with a Keyboard

If you don’t have a guitar tuner handy, but you do have access to a piano, you can use the piano to find the correct pitch for your guitar. Tuning to a piano or keyboard is a great way to get the right pitch for your guitar, and is especially useful if you will be playing along with a pianist or other instrument.

Just tune your sixth string to the E two octaves below middle C. From there, you can tune your guitar to itself or continue to match each pitch to the right notes as you go up the keyboard. As a bonus, tuning this way can help you develop your note-seeking skills on the piano!

Alternate Guitar Tunings

What do Joni Mitchell and Black Sabbath have in common? It’s all in the tuning! Both artists often used alternate tunings to get unique sounds from their guitars. Once you have a good grasp of standard guitar tuning, it can be a lot of fun to experiment with alternate guitar tunings. There are hundreds of possible alternate tunings for the guitar, but two of the most common alternate tunings are Drop D and Open G.

Drop D Tuning

Tuning your guitar to Drop D is pretty simple. Start with your guitar in standard tuning, and just tune your sixth string down a full step from E to D. You can also tune down the E string until it matches the same pitch as the D string, but an octave lower. Famous songs in Drop D tuning include the Beatles’ “Dear Prudence”, Foo Fighters’ “Everlong”, and Neil Young’s “Harvest Moon.”

Open G Tuning

If you love Keith Richards’ guitar playing in the Rolling Stones, you’re already a fan of Open G tuning. In Open G, your guitar strings are tuned to the notes of the G chord, so when you strum open, you’re already playing a complete chord. Starting from the sixth string, tune to the following notes: D-G-D-G-B-D. This is a great tuning to explore if you’re interested in bluesy slide guitar!

DADFAD Tuning

This is another open tuning that is popular in blues music. Instead of tuning to a G chord like with Open G, DADFAD tunes your guitar to an open D minor chord. To change this tuning to a D major chord, simply tune the F note up to F# – you’ll then have DADF#AD. This tuning sounds great with open strings, so it’s a good option for those who don’t know any chords yet but still want to produce a powerful sound. If you know a child that likes to bang on the open strings, tune the guitar to DADFAD first!

How Often Should I Tune a Guitar?

Guitars are sensitive instruments. The wood in your guitar expands and contracts slightly due to changes in temperature and humidity. In turn, it can change the tension in the strings and cause them to go out of tune. You might notice your guitar going out of tune as you play it, if you tend to play very hard or frequently bend pitches.

Due to the guitar’s sensitivity, it’s best to tune at the start of your practice, and again any time you sense that it doesn’t sound right. You will notice that even professional musicians occasionally need to take some time during performances to tune a guitar. New strings will also need to be tuned more frequently until they break in.

How Can I Make My Guitar Stay in Tune Longer?

Keep your guitar in tune longer by changing your strings regularly. Depending on how often you play, you might want to change your strings anywhere from once a month to once a week. When you’re not playing, store your guitar in a hard case in a cool, dry place to avoid changes in heat and humidity. It’s also a good idea to wipe your strings down with a clean, dry cloth when you’re done playing to keep your finger oils from corroding the strings.

If you follow these tips but still have issues with your guitar going out of tune, there may be an issue with your instrument’s intonation. Intonation refers to your instrument’s ability to hold pitch up and down the fretboard. The most common example of bad intonation is when the open strings on your guitar sound in tune but fretted notes sound out of tune.

Intonation may be affected by wear and tear as you play your guitar or by the way your guitar was manufactured. Visit a guitar shop and ask them to take a look at your guitar’s intonation. They will be able to help you find the right solution to your tuning woes.

how to tune a guitar infographic

How to Tune a Guitar Step-by-Step:

  • Step 1: Start by tuning the low E String.
  • Step 2: Next, tune the A String.
  • Step 3: Tune the D String.
  • Step 4: Tune the G String.
  • Step 5: Tune the B String.
  • Step 6: Tune the High E String.
  • Step 7: Play a chord to check that all of the strings are in tune.
  • Step 8: If any strings sound off, retune them.

Free Online Guitar Tuners

There are several free online guitar tuners you can use to help you tune your guitar. Here are a few of our favorites:

8notes.com – You can use this tuner to hear the correct pitch, or activate your computer’s microphone to enable pitch detection.

JamPlay – This free online guitar tuner from JamPlay also allows you to tune by ear or use your computer’s microphone for pitch detection.

TrueFire – TrueFire makes a great free guitar tuner you can use on your computer in addition to their fantastic Pro Guitar Tuner app.

GuitarTricks – This tuner uses real guitar tones so you can match your instrument to its sounds.

Now that you know how to tune a guitar, you’ll be well on your way to achieving your goals on the instrument. If you’re serious about taking your guitar skills to the next level, there’s no better way than with private lessons. The online guitar classes at TakeLessons Live make it easy to improve your playing from the comfort of your own home.

Whether you work with a teacher online or in person, the first part of the lesson will always be to tune up. You’ll then be ready to learn how to play different chords, new strumming patterns, and some of your favorite songs!

Interested in Private Lessons?

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Best Karaoke Songs

100+ Best Karaoke Songs for Girls, Guys, Groups & More

Best Karaoke Songs

Karaoke night is here! To some, it’s a fun excuse to get together with friends. To others, it’s their chance at superstardom. Whatever karaoke means to you, it’s worth putting a little research into which fun karaoke songs are best suited for your stint on stage.

Not only is karaoke a great way to socialize, but it’s also a legitimate way to practice performing, especially if you’re a beginner singer. Successful karaoke comes down to knowing your vocal range, warming up properly, and of course, knowing the song! The good news is that if you get a handle on a handful of popular karaoke songs, you can shine on virtually any karaoke stage.

The most memorable karaoke moments come from performers who are passionate and have a connection to the song that they are singing. Whether you want a performance that is humorous or heartfelt, this guide will help you make the most of your karaoke experience. Read on to find out how to pick the perfect tune and prepare for the show!

Karaoke Singing Lessons

How to Pick the Best Karaoke Songs for You

Before you hit the stage, I recommend having a few songs in mind. Thinking ahead can be especially helpful for beginner karaoke singers, since it will take the stress away from choosing a song on the night of the show. But there’s a lot more to it than just picking your favorite song!

Let’s say you love The Beatles. That doesn’t mean you can sing any Beatles’ song in the original key without straining your voice. John Lennon and Paul McCartney had very high singing voices, and most males are baritones. So, ask yourself this: “When I sing along to my favorite songs, who am I most comfortable singing with?”

Maybe it’s Taylor Swift, a middle voice. Or perhaps a higher one, like Dolly Parton. Either way, use this guide for help picking your best karaoke song.

Karaoke is about fun, so don’t forget to pick a song that you truly enjoy singing! If you’re prone to nervousness, consider picking a more up-tempo tune, as it will make it less likely for nerves to show. If you’re nervous and singing a ballad, your voice can get shaky.

5 Tips for Singing Karaoke

Here are some things to keep in mind about how to have a successful karaoke night:

  • Warm up your voice before singing so you can really hit those high notes! Follow along with this quick video on vocal warm ups for singers.
  • Look confident. Start with a smile and with your feet planted shoulder width apart. Make no apologies for being on that stage!
  • Pick a song you really know so you’re not always having to look at the lyrics on the screen. Don’t forget you have an audience that wants you to sing to them!
  • Use good vocal technique. Breathe low, and keep your sound placed in your mask rather than shouting into the microphone.
  • Practice at home! YouTube has many excellent channels, such as KaraFun, that can help you practice.

100+ Best Karaoke Songs of All Time

Are you ready to find out the most fun karaoke songs of all time? Here are some of the most popular karaoke songs, broken down by genre, category, and more! You can also jump to specific song recommendations using these links:

female karaoke songs

Best Female Karaoke Songs

Ladies, you’ve got so many great choices when it comes to top karaoke songs! From powerhouse pop to girl-power classics, all of these songs are really fun karaoke songs to sing. Here are our picks for the best female karaoke songs.

  1. Shake It Off – Taylor Swift
  2. Stronger – Kelly Clarkson
  3. I Will Survive – Gloria Gaynor
  4. It’s Raining Men – The Weather Girls
  5. Single Ladies – Beyoncé
  6. Like a Virgin – Madonna
  7. Wrecking Ball – Miley Cyrus
  8. Emotions – Mariah Carey
  9. Rehab – Amy Winehouse
  10. Black Velvet – Alannah Myles
  11. Son of a Preacher Man – Dusty Springfield
  12. Damn, I Wish I Was Your Lover – Sophie B. Hawkins

karaoke songs for men

Best Karaoke Songs for Men

Guys, start warming up your voices for these top picks in all vocal genres – rock, pop, punk, and even lounge-style. Here are some of the most popular karaoke songs for men.

  1. Sweet Caroline – Neil Diamond
  2. Don’t Stop Believin’ – Journey
  3. Bohemian Rhapsody – Queen
  4. Wonderwall – Oasis
  5. My Way – Frank Sinatra
  6. I Wanna Be Sedated – the Ramones
  7. Losing My Religion – R.E.M.
  8. Never Gonna Give You Up – Rick Astley
  9. 867-5309/Jenny – Tommy Tutone
  10. Mack the Knife – Bobby Darin
  11. If I Was Your Girlfriend – Prince
  12. When I Was Your Man – Bruno Mars

easy karaoke songs to sing

Top Easy Karaoke Songs

Need something easy to sing? If your vocal skills aren’t quite where you want them to be yet, don’t worry. There are plenty of easy karaoke songs that you can still rock out to.

  1. 500 Miles – The Proclaimers
  2. These Boots Are Made for Walking – Nancy Sinatra
  3. Crazy – Patsy Cline
  4. Happy – Pharrell Williams
  5. Copacabana – Barry Manilow
  6. That’s the Way (I Like It) – KC and the Sunshine Band
  7. Celebration – Kool and the Gang
  8. Funkytown – Lipps, Inc
  9. Don’t Worry, Be Happy – Bobby McFerrin
  10. Eye of the Tiger – Survivor

karaoke duets

Duet Karaoke Songs

Grab a friend for twice the fun! Duet karaoke songs let both singers shine. Check out the list below for our top picks for the best karaoke duets.

  1. The Boy is Mine – Brandy and Monica
  2. Cruisin’ – Huey Lewis and Gwyneth Paltrow
  3. Islands in the Stream – Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton
  4. Need You Now – Lady Antebellum
  5. All I Have – Jennifer Lopez and LL Cool J
  6. Up Where We Belong – Joe Cocker and Jennifer Warnes
  7. Empire State of Mind – Jay-Z and Alicia Keys
  8. Ebony and Ivory – Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder
  9. Dream a Little Dream of Me – Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong
  10. Hunger Strike – Eddie Vedder and Chris Cornell

group karaoke songs

Best Group Karaoke Songs

For those of you who hit the bar with a bunch of friends, these group karaoke songs will let you all join in on the fun!

  1. We Are Family – Sister Sledge
  2. California Dreamin’ – The Mamas and the Papas
  3. ABC – Jackson 5
  4. Wannabe – Spice Girls
  5. Push It – Salt ‘n Pepa
  6. No Scrubs – TLC
  7. Lean On Me – Club Nouveau
  8. Rapper’s Delight – Sugar Hill Gang
  9. YMCA – Village People
  10. Supersonic – JJ Fad

funny karaoke songs

Funny Karaoke Songs

Want to just have fun, without worrying about your vocal skills? Pick one of the funny karaoke songs below, add in a splash of confidence and stage presence, and the crowd will love you.

  1. Rock Lobster – B-52s
  2. Just a Friend – Biz Markie
  3. Tubthumping – Chumbawamba
  4. MMMBop – Hanson
  5. Mickey – Toni Basil
  6. Party All the Time – Eddie Murphy
  7. The Future’s So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades – Timbuk 3
  8. Whip It – Devo
  9. If You Like Piña Coladas – Jimmy Buffet
  10. Rico Suave – Gerardo

90s karaoke songs

’90s Karaoke Songs

’90s kids: listen up! Whether you grew up with rock or pop princesses, these ’90s karaoke crowd-pleasers will get everyone singing along with you.

  1. Closing Time – Semisonic
  2. Time of Your Life – Green Day
  3. You Oughta Know – Alanis Morissette
  4. Torn – Natalie Imbruglia
  5. I’ll Stand By You – The Pretenders
  6. Genie in a Bottle – Christina Aguilera
  7. Gettin’ Jiggy Wit’ It – Will Smith
  8. Who Am I? (What’s My Name) – Snoop Dogg
  9. Santeria – Sublime
  10. Don’t Speak – No Doubt

80s karaoke songs

’80s Karaoke Songs

More a fan of ’80s music? Here are our favorite jams to sign up for.

  1. Billie Jean – Michael Jackson
  2. I Want to Know What Love Is – Foreigner
  3. I Think We’re Alone Now – Tiffany
  4. Wake Me Up Before You Go Go – Wham!
  5. Don’t You Want Me – Human League
  6. Tainted Love – Soft Cell
  7. I Can’t Wait – Nu Shooz
  8. All Night Long – Lionel Richie
  9. Everybody Wants to Rule the World – Tears for Fears
  10. Part-Time Lover – Stevie Wonder

60s and 70s karaoke songs

’60s and ’70s Karaoke Songs

Break out the bellbottoms and get your best John Travolta impression ready for these disco tunes.

  1. Dancing Queen – ABBA
  2. Stayin’ Alive – The Bee Gees
  3. I’m Every Woman – Chaka Khan
  4. Rapture – Blondie
  5. Do Ya Think I’m Sexy – Rod Stewart
  6. Play That Funky Music – Wild Cherry
  7. Brick House – Commodores
  8. Big Yellow Taxi – Joni Mitchell
  9. You’re So Vain – Carly Simon
  10. Let’s Get it On – Marvin Gaye

love karaoke songs

Best Karaoke Love Songs

Can you feel the love tonight? If you want to impress your sweetie in the crowd, pick one of these top karaoke songs about love.

  1. Time After Time – Cyndi Lauper
  2. Wicked Game – Chris Isaak
  3. Try a Little Tenderness – Otis Redding
  4. Come to My Window – Melissa Etheridge
  5. The Sweetest Thing – U2
  6. I Melt With You – Modern English
  7. That’s the Way Love Goes – Janet Jackson
  8. Can’t Help Falling in Love – Elvis Presley
  9. She Loves You – the Beatles
  10. Nothing Compares 2 U – Sinead O’Connor

rock karaoke songs

Best Rock Karaoke Songs

Love singing rock music? Here are some of the best rock karaoke songs to consider.

  1. Pour Some Sugar On Me – Def Leppard
  2. Creep – Radiohead
  3. Born in the USA – Bruce Springsteen
  4. Under the Bridge – Red Hot Chili Peppers
  5. We’re Not Gonna Take It – Twisted Sister
  6. Livin’ On a Prayer – Bon Jovi
  7. Sweet Home Alabama – Lynyrd Skynyrd
  8. Piece of My Heart – Janis Joplin
  9. Zombie – The Cranberries
  10. Enter Sandman – Metallica

pop karaoke songs

Best Pop Karaoke Songs

Pop songs are super fun to sing at karaoke nights! Here are some of our favorites.

  1. Royals – Lorde
  2. Baby One More Time – Britney Spears
  3. Push – Matchbox Twenty
  4. Treasure – Bruno Mars
  5. Call Me Maybe – Carly Rae Jepsen
  6. Hallelujah – Jeff Buckley
  7. Iris – Goo Goo Dolls
  8. The Middle – Jimmy Eat World
  9. Timber – Ke$ha and Pitbull
  10. All About That Bass – Meghan Trainor

R&B karaoke songs

Best R&B Karaoke Songs

Feeling that rhythm and blues? Put your heart and soul into these top R&B karaoke songs.

  1. This is How We Do It – Montell Jordan
  2. Let’s Stay Together – Al Green
  3. Poison – Bel Biv Devoe
  4. End of the Road – Boyz II Men
  5. No Diggity – Blackstreet
  6. Doo Wop (That Thing) – Lauryn Hill
  7. Un-break My Heart – Toni Braxton
  8. Not Gon’ Cry – Mary J. Blige
  9. He’s So Fine – The Chiffons
  10. Chain of Fools – Aretha Franklin

country karaoke songs

Best Country Karaoke Songs

More of the honky-tonk type? Whether you prefer classic country songs or modern-day hits, here are the best country karaoke songs.

  1. Man! I Feel Like a Woman! – Shania Twain
  2. Something to Talk About – Bonnie Raitt
  3. Ring of Fire – Johnny Cash
  4. Take Me Home, Country Roads – John Denver
  5. Stand By Your Man – Tammy Wynette
  6. Friends In Low Places – Garth Brooks
  7. Your Cheatin’ Heart – Hank Williams
  8. Before He Cheats – Carrie Underwood
  9. Celebrity – Brad Paisley
  10. All My Ex’s Live in Texas – George Strait

worst country karaoke songs

Worst Karaoke Songs

And whatever you do, avoid these WORST karaoke songs!

  1. Achy Breaky Heart – Billy Ray Cyrus
  2. I’ve Got You Babe – Sonny and Cher
  3. Picture – Sheryl Crow and Kid Rock
  4. Baby Got Back – Sir Mix-A-Lot
  5. Ice Ice Baby – Vanilla Ice
  6. Barbie Girl – Aqua
  7. My Heart Will Go On – Celine Dion
  8. Margaritaville – Jimmy Buffet
  9. Boyfriend – Justin Bieber
  10. Friday – Rebecca Black

How Karaoke Can Make You a Better Singer

It goes without saying that performing, in general, becomes easier the more you do it. Karaoke night is a great way to get over stage fright if you attend regularly. You’ll always have an audience, and they are usually very supportive and encouraging (especially if you go with friends and family)!

Doing karaoke is also a great idea if you’re pursuing music. You won’t feel the pressure that you might at an audition or vocal contest, so it’s certainly less stressful in the beginning. Try out any of these songs risk-free before you take it to the “big time!”

If you truly want to take your singing skills to the next level, vocal lessons are the only way to go. After a few lessons, you will surely notice your voice improving. The more you study with your vocal coach, the better your karaoke performances will become!

Along with our list of popular karaoke songs, your group of friends surely has its own set of songs that are meaningful in their own way. Let us know in the comments below what karaoke songs are a favorite in your community. Then, pick a song and grab the mic!

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MollyRPost Author: Molly R.
Molly R. teaches online and in-person singing lessons in Hayward, CA. Her specialties include teaching beginner vocalists, shy singers, children, teens, lapsed singers, and older beginners. She joined TakeLessons in 2013. Learn more!

Photo by Metropolitan Transportation Authority of the State of New York

Top Ukulele Songs

Top 10 Essential & Easy Songs to Learn on Ukulele

Top Ukulele Songs

One of the best things about the ukulele is that it’s easy to play a great sounding song in no time. In fact, beginning uke players can learn a song or two in their very first lesson! There are plenty of good songs to learn on ukulele for beginners and seasoned strummers alike. Enjoy this list of 10 classic ukulele songs from expert instructor, Willy M.

10 Easy Songs to Learn on Ukulele

With just a few chords, you can have a world of different songs at your fingertips. Think of your favorite songs as the key to learning new strumming patterns and getting the basics down. To help you out on your budding career as a ukulele player, here are the top 10 essential easy uke songs to play. Keep scrolling for videos of each.

  • I Make My Own Sunshine – Alyssa Bonagura
  • Riptide – Vance Joy
  • Mele Kalikimaka – Robert Alex Anderson
  • Tears in Heaven – Eric Clapton
  • Upside Down – Jack Johnson
  • Tonight You Belong to Me – Prudence and Patience
  • Hey Soul Sister – Train
  • I’m Yours – Jason Mraz
  • I Do / Falling For You – Colbie Caillat
  • Somewhere Over the Rainbow / What a Wonderful World – Israel Kamakawiwo’ole

10. Somewhere over the Rainbow / What a Wonderful World – Israel Kamakawiwo’ole

In 1993, Israel Kamakawiwo’ole brought us his interpretation of two classic ukulele songs that have been inscribed into the American consciousness for decades: “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” and the Louis Armstrong classic “What a Wonderful World.”

This track was featured on Iz’s album Facing Future, and has since gone on to be a staple in many movies. It was featured in Meet Joe Black, Finding Forester, 50 First Dates, Son of the Mask, and several others. Fun fact: the album Facing Future holds the record for the bestselling album by a Hawaiian national to date.

There are eight chords in this song, but they are not particularly difficult chords to play: C, G, F, Am – typical chords for the key of C, with E7, D, Dm7, and Em thrown into the mix for fun. I chose this song as #10 since it will probably require the most work, but it will definitely be appreciated by your audience.

9. I Do / Falling For You – Colbie Caillat

Next up on this list of easy songs to learn on ukulele is a combo of “I Do” and “Falling for You” by Colbie Caillat. Both Colbie Caillat and Jason Mraz were at the head of the modern ukulele movement. Caillat has many songs that are great for the ukulele. I recommend learning both of these songs and playing them as a medley.

“Falling for You” isn’t necessarily a ukulele song, but it works great with “I Do.” “Falling for You” is in the key of D using D, A, Em, and G. “I Do” is in the key of G and uses the chords G, D, C, D7, Em, Am, B7, and Cm. The Cm might give you a bit of a challenge, but if you can tackle “Somewhere Over the Rainbow/What A Wonderful World,” I know you can handle this song as well!

8. I’m Yours – Jason Mraz

I probably wouldn’t be writing articles about the ukulele if you hadn’t heard the song “I’m Yours.” The fact is, Jason Mraz took a simple ukulele line and married it to a tremendously catchy tune, giving us this instant-classic ukulele song that won’t go away once it’s in your head. The budding uke players out there will appreciate how simple this song is to play, from the basic lead intro to the shuffling strumming pattern.

This song uses chords known as the “oldies progression” because they are common to a lot of popular songs from the ’50s. These chords are really just C, Am, F, and G. Jason also throws in a D for the turnaround section to build a bit more tension. Give yourself a few hours of practice and you’ll have this song in the bag.

7. Hey Soul Sister – Train

After Jason and Colbie hit the charts, ’90s wonder band Train came back with a Jason Mraz-sounding groove entitled “Hey Soul Sister.” The song is very similar in structure to “I’m Yours.” Now I’m not saying Train copied Jason Mraz – well, maybe I am. I think the legal term is “heavily influenced.”

If you check out the chord structure, “Hey Soul Sister” is basically the same song as “I’m Yours,” but with different lyrics and a different pattern to the chorus. Essentially, if you can learn “I’m Yours” and transpose it to the key of G, you’ll have this song down. In G, the chord progression will be G, Em, C, and D.

6. Upside Down – Jack Johnson

One of my all-time favorite songs to play is “Upside Down” by Jack Johnson from the movie Curious George. “Upside Down” only has 5 chords (E, F#m, A, B, and G#m), and the lead lick is very simple to play.

I personally like to play this song in the key of G (G, Am, C, D, and Bm). Like I suggested for Colbie’s songs, feel free to segue some of Jack’s songs together to create a good medley!

5. Tonight You Belong to Me – Prudence and Patience

At some point in your ukulele career you are going to be asked to play this song, made popular by Steve Martin’s rendition in the movie The JerkThis playful, lighthearted tune was originally written in the 1920s, but made a comeback in the ‘50s and ‘60s with the sisterly vocal duo, Prudence and Patience.

If you have a coronet player to play with you, or a friend to harmonize vocals with, it’s even more beautiful! This is one of the most basic ukulele songs out there – using only the chords A, D, G, and E with a Dm and an Eb thrown in for good measure. Let the sparks fly with this sweet, romantic tune!

4. Tears in Heaven – Eric Clapton

A song that you may not have expected to see on this list is “Tears in Heaven” by Eric Clapton. This beautiful song, which was written after the tragic loss of Eric’s son Connor, is one that has brought tears and healing to countless people after their own losses. It is definitely a great song to have in your repertoire.

It’s not a very difficult song to play on the ukulele, but the bridge might take some extra attention. The main chords in the song are A, E, F#m, and D with a C#m thrown in. But in the bridge, Clapton goes into the key of G for a minute, throwing in the G and C as well.

It might sound like a bit of a challenge, but it will be worth it to learn this meaningful tune.

3. Mele Kalikimaka – Robert Alex Anderson

When you play the ukulele, you won’t always be playing around a campfire or on the beach. Sometimes you may get a request to play holiday music, and “Mele Kalikimaka” is a classic ukulele song for the holidays.

“Mele Kalikimaka” was popularized by Bing Crosby, but unlike most crooner songs, this one is pretty simple to play. G, D7, E, C, A7, and Am should get you through most of the song. It’s immediately recognizable and if you can croon along, you’ll really wow your audience!

2. Riptide – Vance Joy

“Riptide” is the song that launched Vance Joy’s career worldwide, and even if you don’t recognize the name, you’ll know the song. After stumbling across this cover on YouTube, I was impressed by how great this tune sounds with the ukulele. Though the original song uses a classical guitar with a capo, this young lady does a killer rendition on the uke.

This is a good song to learn on ukulele, especially for beginners. That’s because you’ll only need three chords to get it down: Am, G, and C. 

1. I Make My Own Sunshine – Alyssa Bonagura

The final song I want to include on this list of easy songs to learn on ukulele is one of my favorite good time songs: “I Make My Own Sunshine” by Alyssa Bonagura. This song heavily features the ukulele and is infectiously catchy! You can even perform the song with a ukulele solo, like this woman’s unique interpretation.

The uke chords are simple: G, D, Em, and C. Keep in mind that you may have to tune your uke a half-step down to match the original. Did you notice that the oldies progression keeps cropping up again and again on this list?

Well, there you have it: the top 10 easy songs to learn on ukulele. Remember that the more you build up your uke skills, the easier it will be to pick up new tunes. Though there are many resources for learning the ukulele online, nothing beats having a private ukulele lesson tailored to you. Search for a ukulele teacher today and you’ll be playing all of these songs in no time!

Willy M

Author: Willy M. teaches guitar, ukulele, and mandolin lessons in Winston, NC. He is the author of the Dead Man’s Tuning series of mandolin songbooks, and is a former member of the American Federation of Musicians. Willy has been teaching for 20 years, and his students have ranged in age from young children to folks in their 80’s. Learn more about Willy here!

 

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How to Read Piano Sheet Music

How to Read Sheet Music in 5 Easy Steps

How to Read Piano Sheet Music

Learning how to read sheet music unlocks a world of expression and freedom on the piano. Although it takes practice to become proficient at sight reading, it is one of the most valuable skills to have as a musician. Even if your main instrument is not the piano, learning the basics of how to read music notes can be easier when you know your way around a keyboard.

Studying the piano and learning how to read sheet music go hand-in-hand. Memorizing the notes on the piano is the first step for beginners who want to tackle a piece of music and expand their playing skills. To develop your skills in the most efficient way possible, you must start learning how to read sheet music right off the bat. Follow these simple steps, and you’ll be reading piano notes in no time!

How to Read Piano Sheet Music for Beginners

Before we dive into the basics of how to read sheet music, you’ll want to make sure you have all the supplies you need. This means some blank grand staff paper, an erasable pencil (stay away from pens!), and a keyboard instrument of some kind. You don’t need a Steinway to get started — a small keyboard will do fine for learning the basics of music reading. You will, however, want at least 66 keys to play complete pieces of music. 

Step 1: Label white spaces with FACE and EGBDF for the treble clef

If you want to learn how to read sheet music you should start by looking at the treble clef first. This is the staff that shows which notes to play with your right hand. If you are learning for the first time, you must familiarize yourself with the letter names of the lines and spaces. On your staff paper, label the white spaces with FACE starting with the first space at the bottom of the page and going up, then the lines EGBDF starting at the bottom line going to the top line. There are little tricks to help you remember the names of the lines and spaces – for example, just remember the phrase “Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge.” Work on memorizing this a little bit each day.

Treble clef

Step 2: Write the note letter names

Now take a piece of music you want to learn, and underneath the music notes of the right hand in the treble clef, write the letter names (remember: use a pencil, that way you can erase it later!). This isn’t a great habit to get into in the long run, but it’s fine for just starting out. If there is one note you’re having a hard time remembering specifically, just write that one note letter name. Keep in mind, you’re only focusing on the white notes on a piano for now. Don’t worry about the black keys (your sharps and flats) just yet.

Step 3: Memorize letter names, and move onto bass clef

After you’ve memorized all of the letter names on the lines and spaces for your right hand (the treble clef), you can move on to reading piano notes on the bass clef, where the notes on the lines and spaces will be played with your left hand.

Step 4: Name your spaces ACEGB and GBDFA

Practice drawing the bass clef, which will start on the F line. Then with the spaces at the bottom of the page, name your spaces ACEGB (remember “All Cows Eat Grass,” and don’t forget to add your B at the top!). Next, name your lines starting at the bottom of the page GBDFA (“Good Boys Deserve Fudge Always”). Memorize these notations as well. Now transfer these letter names of the lines and spaces to your piano song from step #2, and name all the notes with your left hand in the bass clef.

Bass Clef

Step 5: Find a hand diagram and label each finger 1-5

There is another method with numbers that may be easier for you to read. Find a diagram of your hands and looking at the right hand starting with your thumb, label each finger with 1-5. Do the same with your left hand. There are many easy piano songs to begin with, such as “Three Blind Mice”, “Hot Cross Buns”, “Mary Had a Little Lamb”, and “Jingle Bells” that only use notes C-G, or numbers 1-5. Starting on middle C of the piano, put both thumbs on the note, and align both your hands so that your right pinky ends on 5 (G) and your left pinky lands on 5 (F). You can write in the numbers next to letter names, if that helps you more. Remember to begin with only the white notes on a piano.

finger placement piano

Now, as you read through your song, play and sing the letter or numbers while playing, which will help you memorize the names of numbers of the notes on a piano. Once you’ve practiced this for a while, try erasing the letter names and testing yourself to see if you still remember the playing pattern and tune of the song.

With these steps, learning how to read music notes will start to become natural to you. For each piece you learn, write in the letter names or fingers, and then erase them when you get comfortable enough. Pretty soon you won’t even need to write them in!

A Different Way to Learn How to Read Sheet Music: The Mental Flip Strategy

One of the most difficult things about learning how to read sheet music for the piano, as opposed to most other instruments, is that there is not just a single melody to be played. Piano music requires you to play more than one part at a time. Usually these parts are interconnected – they are part of a chord that you need to be able to accurately read.

Although the concept of reading multiple lines of music may seem overwhelming at first, in time, you’ll find that this is what makes the piano such a powerful instrument. A pianist can carry the bassline, chords, and melody all at once, eliminating the need for accompaniment and providing orchestra-like backing for solo instruments. Many beginners prefer to use a technique called the mental flip strategy to get more comfortable with reading and memorizing the notes. Before we dive into how to use that strategy, let’s take a step back and see why sheet music is written the way it is.

A Little History Behind Reading Music Notes

Sheet music is read from left to right. The reasoning behind this is that music began as an exercise most focused on the progression of notes in a scale or mode in a horizontal fashion. When more than one voice was sounded together, they usually sang in unison it was not till the 9th century that musicians became increasingly concerned with vertical harmony and polyphony.

Keyboard instruments, such as the organ, the harpsichord, and ultimately the piano, were instruments developed to satisfy this changing aesthetic and the increased importance of vertical harmonies. They were adapted into a notation that had been developed to address primarily horizontal concerns (i.e. what note comes next). This is not to say that sheet music cannot be read for the piano, but rather the beginner student of piano must learn to think about the music on the page differently from the words on a page.

The Mental Flip Strategy: Reading Piano Notes for Beginners

You must flip the orientation of the sheet music in front of you mentally, so you can read the vertical orientation of the notes.

In order to begin to think about and practice this mental flip, there is an extremely helpful strategy you can use. You can actually turn the sheet music so you are reading the notes down the page. Doing so allows you to more easily understand the spacing between the notes and more intuitively grasp where your fingers should be placed on the keys. This technique is also incredibly helpful for visualizing the grand staff as a whole and where the octaves on the keyboard are located.

In order to properly perform this strategy and learn how to read sheet music for piano, follow these three simple steps:

  1. Take your original sheet music and flip it clockwise. The line of music you’re working on playing should be read down the page, from top to bottom, instead of across.

  2. Begin to identify chord units and think about each measure in terms of chordal units. Most bars or measures of beginning piano music contain one or two chords. Sometimes these chords are arpeggiated, other times there is an alternation pattern of notes in the treble and bass in quick succession. Your success with this technique depends on your ability to identify which chord is being outlined. To do this, name the notes. In beginning sheet music you’ll most likely see either major or minor triads.

  3. Match the notes on the page to your fingers on the keyboard. Notice how, with the sheet music turned, the sheet music is actually a diagram of the intervals between each note and how this realization helps you visualize where to place your fingers.

Here’s how it looks on your sheet music:

Mental flip strategy for learning to read sheet music for piano

With music, there are many different strategies that can help you move quickly to a better understanding. Everyone approaches music differently. Some beginners intuitively grasp complex concepts, others need a little help along the way. Some may even find this strategy more confusing than the standard approach.

Whether this technique is right for you depends largely on whether or not it yields a type of “aha” moment, where you can better visualize the spacing of your fingers and their placement on the keys. The important thing is to find out which learning technique works for you and then use these tools to reach your musical goals.

The best way to learn how to read music notes is with piano lessons. A professional piano teacher can walk you through these steps and ensure that you’re building your skills on a solid foundation of music theory. With each lesson, your knowledge of the piano will grow and your music reading skills will develop. Lesson plans that are catered to your learning style and current skill level will help you stay motivated for the long term. Once you have a handle on reading music, the playing possibilities are endless!

Do you have a favorite technique for learning how to read sheet music? Let us know in the comments below!

 

LizTPost Author: Liz T. teaches online singing, acting, and music lessons. She is a graduate of the Berklee College of Music with a B.M in Vocal performance and currently performs/teaches all styles of music including Musical Theater, Classical, Jazz, Rock, Pop, R&B, and Country. Learn more about Liz here!

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Road Trip Music

Your Official Road Trip Playlist: 150+ Songs Everyone Knows

Road Trip Music

There’s nothing quite like a good road trip — it’s one of the best ways to spend time with friends and explore new scenery. To have a successful journey, you’ll need three things: a functioning vehicle, a full tank of gas, and (most importantly) an amazing road trip playlist!

Sharing music on the road is a great way to discover new artists and dive into styles that you normally wouldn’t listen to. Everyone has their own unique song picks that they like to put on the stereo, but having a playlist of songs everyone loves lets you all sing along and enjoy the experience together.

Whether you’re looking for a list of classic old songs everyone knows or the best singalong songs of the 2000s and beyond, you’ve arrived at the right place. Crank up these tunes to prevent drowsiness on the road and make your journey more fun!

150+ Best Singalong Songs for your Road Trip Playlist

Best Road Trip Songs

Need to stay awake during a long trip? Here are some of the most popular road trip songs everyone knows

  1. “Life is A Highway (cover)” – Rascal Flatts
  2. “Back in the Saddle” – Aerosmith
  3. “Life in the Fast Lane” – the Eagles
  4. “Roam” – B-52s
  5. “Sweet Home Alabama” – Lynyrd Skynyrd
  6. “Livin’ on A Prayer” – Bon Jovi
  7. “Here I Go Again” – Whitesnake
  8. “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)” – the Proclaimers

Road Trip Songs that Make You Dance

These popular road trips songs are guaranteed to get you wiggling in your seat

  1. “Blue (Da Ba Dee)” – Eiffel 65
  2. “Doctor Jones” – Aqua
  3. “Raise Your Glass” – P!nk
  4. “Dancing Queen” – ABBA
  5. “Dark Horse” – Katy Perry
  6. “Crazy in Love” – Beyonce and Jay-Z
  7. “Gold Digger” – Kanye West featuring Jamie Foxx
  8. “Around the World” – Daft Punk
  9. “Uptown Funk” – Mark Ronson
  10. “Hey Ya” – Outkast

’90s Nostalgia Road Trip Songs

Tunes from the ’90s and beyond, including the best singalong songs of the 2000s

  1. “Quit Playin’ Games With My Heart” – Backstreet Boys
  2. “You’re Still the One” – Shania Twain
  3. “Tearin’ up My Heart” – *NSync
  4. “Free Fallin’” – Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
  5. “Roll to Me” – Del Amitri
  6. “Ocean Avenue” – Yellowcard
  7. “I Miss You” – Blink-182
  8. “Jane Says” – Jane’s Addiction
  9. “Welcome to Paradise” – Green Day
  10. “Only Wanna Be with You” – Hootie & the Blowfish
  11. “Champagne Supernova” – Oasis
  12. “Just A Girl” – No Doubt
  13. “Absolutely (Story of A Girl)” – Nine Days
  14. “Man in the Box” – Alice in Chains
  15. “Drops of Jupiter” – Train
  16. “Gives You Hell” – All-American Rejects
  17. “1985” – Bowling for Soup
  18. “Stacy’s Mom” – Fountains of Wayne
  19. “Here It Goes Again” – OK Go
  20. “Save Tonight” – Eagle-Eye Cherry

Beats with a Bounce

Spunky yet chill, rock and alternative tunes to add to your road trip playlist

  1. “The Guitar Man” – Cake
  2. “Scar Tissue” – Red Hot Chili Peppers
  3. “What I Got” – Sublime
  4. “One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer” – George Thorogood
  5. “Girls Don’t Like Boys” – Good Charlotte
  6. “(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (To Party!)” – The Beastie Boys
  7. “The Joker” – Steve Miller Band
  8. “Zombies Ate My Neighbors” – Single File
  9. “Mr. Jones” – Counting Crows
  10. “Sugar, We’re Going Down” – Fall Out Boy
  11. “Feel Good, Inc.” – the Gorillaz
  12. “Sex and Candy” – Marcy Playground
  13. “Are You Gonna Be My Girl?” – Jet
  14. “It’s the End of the World As We Know It” – R.E.M.
  15. “The Impression That I Get” – the Mighty Mighty Bosstones
  16. “Float On” – Modest Mouse
  17. “Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked” – Cage the Elephant
  18. “Hey There Delilah” – Plain White T’s
  19. “99 Red Balloons” – Nena
  20. “White & Nerdy” – “Weird Al” Yankovic
  21. “I’m on A Boat” – the Lonely Island featuring T-Pain
  22. “Party Like A Rockstar” – Shop Boyz
  23. “Ice Ice Baby” – Vanilla Ice
  24. “Someday” – Sugar Ray
  25. “Seven Nation Army” – the White Stripes

Blastin’ Backbeats

For when you want to turn it up to eleven

  1. “Sorrow” – Bad Religion
  2. “Should I Stay or Should I Go” – the Clash
  3. “I Wanna Be Sedated” – the Ramones
  4. “The Four Horsemen” – Metallica
  5. “Fear of the Dark” – Iron Maiden
  6. “Peace Sells” – Megadeth
  7. “Ten Thousand Fists” – Disturbed
  8. “Shout at the Devil” – Mötley Crüe
  9. “You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’” – Judas Priest
  10. “Fat Lip” – Sum 41
  11. “Come Out and Play (Keep ‘Em Separated)” – the Offspring
  12. “Smells Like Teen Spirit” – Nirvana
  13. “Beverly Hills” – Weezer
  14. “Too Many Puppies” – Primus
  15. “This Is Not A Song, It’s A Sandwich” – Psychostick

Retro Road Trip Music

Old songs that everyone knows, featuring classic tracks from back in the day

  1. “My Girl” – The Temptations
  2. “Wipeout” – The Surfaris
  3. “Have You Ever Seen the Rain?” – Creedence Clearwater Revival
  4. “Bang the Drum All Day” – Todd Rundgren
  5. “California Dreamin’” – The Mamas and the Papas
  6. “Welcome to the Jungle” – Guns N’ Roses
  7. “Panama” – Van Halen
  8. “Fun, Fun, Fun” – the Beach Boys
  9. “American Pie” – Don McLean
  10. “Rock Around the Clock” – Bill Haley and His Comets
  11. “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” – Cyndi Lauper
  12. “Mother” – Danzig
  13. “Purple Haze” – Jimi Hendrix
  14. “One Love (People Get Ready)” – Bob Marley
  15. “Take On Me” – A-Ha
  16. “No More Mr. Nice Guy” – Alice Cooper
  17. “I Know It’s Only Rock ‘n Roll (But I Like It)” – the Rolling Stones
  18. “Once in A Lifetime” – Talking Heads
  19. “Stuck in the Middle with You” – Stealers Wheel
  20. “Cheeseburger in Paradise” – Jimmy Buffett
  21. “Ring of Fire” – Johnny Cash
  22. “It’s Raining Men” – the Weather Girls
  23. “Hound Dog” – Elvis Presley

Best Road Trip Songs for Singers

Addictive melodies to show off your vocal skills

  1. “Piano Man” – Billy Joel
  2. “All These Things That I’ve Done” – the Killers
  3. “Send the Pain Below” – Chevelle
  4. “Closer to Fine” – Indigo Girls
  5. “I Write Sins Not Tragedies” – Panic! At the Disco
  6. “Knights of Cydonia” – Muse
  7. “No One Knows” – Queens of the Stone Age
  8. “Stairway to Heaven” – Led Zeppelin
  9. “Piece of My Heart” – Janis Joplin
  10. “All Along the Watchtower” – Bob Dylan
  11. “Interstate Love Song” – Stone Temple Pilots
  12. “Pardon Me” – Incubus
  13. “Rocket Man” – Elton John
  14. “Black Hole Sun” – Soundgarden
  15. “Birdhouse in Your Soul” – They Might Be Giants
  16. “Ziggy Stardust” – David Bowie
  17. “Dog Days Are Over” – Florence and the Machine
  18. “Layla” – Eric Clapton
  19. “Imagine” – John Lennon
  20. “Someone to Watch Over Me” – Ella Fitzgerald (music by George and Ira Gerschwin)
  21. “I Ain’t Superstitious” – Willie Dixon
  22. “Rolling in the Deep” – Adele

SEE ALSO: 100+ Best Karaoke Songs

Awesome Anthems

Classic singalong anthems that everyone knows and can agree on

  1. “In the Street” – Cheap Trick
  2. “I Will Survive” – Gloria Gaynor
  3. “Don’t Stop Believin’” – Journey
  4. “Bohemian Rhapsody” – Queen
  5. “Jack & Diane” – John Mellencamp
  6. “Born to Be Wild” – Steppenwolf
  7. “Rock and Roll All Night” – KISS
  8. “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” – the Supremes
  9. “We’re Not Gonna Take It” – Twisted Sister
  10. “Crazy Train” – Ozzy Osbourne
  11. “Dancin’ in the Street” – Martha and the Vandellas
  12. “Ballroom Blitz” – The Sweet
  13. “Rock You Like A Hurricane” – the Scorpion
  14. “Eye of the Tiger” – Survivor
  15. “Cum on Feel the Noize” – Quiet Riot
  16. “Carry On, Wayward Son” – Kansas
  17. “Thriller” – Michael Jackson
  18. “You Shook Me All Night Long” – AC/DC
  19. “Soak Up The Sun” – Sheryl Crow
  20. “Pinball Wizard” – the Who
  21. “Juke Box Hero” – Foreigner
  22. “Summer of ’69” – Bryan Adams
  23. “The Time Warp” – Rocky Horror Picture Show
  24. “Another Brick in the Wall (pt. 2)” – Pink Floyd
  25. “The Twist” – Chubby Checker
  26. “Do You Love Me” – the Contours
  27. “Old Time Rock and Roll” – Bob Seger

Songs Everyone Knows

If you’re looking for more recent hits, here is popular road trip music from the last decade

  1. “Work” – Rihanna ft. Drake
  2. “No Broken Hearts” – Bebe Rexha ft. Nicki Minaj
  3. “Cheap Thrills” – Sia
  4. “Wild Things” – Alessia Cara
  5. “Can’t Stop the Feeling!” – Justin Timberlake
  6. “Ride” – Twenty One Pilots
  7. “Cake by the Ocean” – DNCE
  8. “Kill Em With Kindness” – Selena Gomez

There you have it, our list of the top songs that everyone knows. Use this as a starting point to develop your own perfect road trip playlist. And when it comes to listening to playlists like these in the car, there are two schools of thought: either the driver has full authority to skip a track or you go by majority vote. Whatever your listening style is, crank it up and sing along to make the most of your trip!

Being in the car also happens to be a great opportunity to work on your singing skills. If you want to impress your friends on your next road trip together, consider taking free online singing classes to improve your vocal abilities.

Let us know below what your top road trip tracks are and check out even more songs to sing here!

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Piano Songs for Kids

5 Kid-Friendly Piano Songs with Letters + Video Tutorials

Piano Songs for Kids

It’s never too early (or late) to start learning the piano! Whether you have an illustrious grand piano or a funky techno beat electronic keyboard, you can teach your child several simple piano tunes in a fun and encouraging fashion.

Introducing your child to the fundamentals of music can help them in many different ways. Studies have shown that there’s a substantial correlation between music and language skills. It turns out that learning new scales, chords, and songs is much like learning new words, sentences, and stories. This makes their formative years a perfect time to start learning music!

Whether you’d like your child to be the next Mozart or you’re just looking for a way to build up their cognitive skills, these keyboard songs for beginners are a great place to start. As they grow older, you’ll both be glad they got the music fundamentals down at a young age, as this can be the beginning of a lifetime of musical enjoyment!

Getting the Basics Down

Some parents are hesitant to teach their children basic music skills because they don’t know where to begin. The good news is that you don’t need to be a professional player to teach your child easy keyboard songs like the ones below. In fact, you don’t need any musical experience to get started — you can even learn alongside your child!

First off, you’ll need to learn the location of the notes on the piano. Start by finding C – it’s the white key directly to the left of the group of two black keys. Using only the white keys, the notes continue in alphabetical order up to G, and then they restart at A.

You can label the notes C, D, E, F, G, A, and B with stickers to make it easier for your child. Most easy piano song notes will all fall on the white keys, so there’s no need to worry about labeling sharps and flats just yet. Once you’ve found where these seven notes are, you and your kids can start learning songs!

5 Easy Piano Songs with Letters

Mary Had a Little Lamb

This is often one of the first keyboard songs for kids that instructors will teach new students. The song has additional verses about the adventures Mary and her lamb have, to keep the fun going while you sing and play together. Check out the verses and the notes below.

Mary had a little lamb
E D C D E E E
Little lamb, little lamb
D D D E G G
Mary had a little lamb
E D C D E E E
Its fleece was white as snow
E D D E D C

Here’s an excellent video tutorial, showing all the notes labeled:

Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star

Any beginner will love playing this children’s classic on the piano. One of the great things about this song is that almost every note is played twice in a row, meaning there are fewer notes for your child to locate.

Twinkle, twinkle, little star
C C G G A A G
How I wonder what you are
F F E E D D C
Up above the world so high
G G F F E E D
Like a diamond in the sky
G G F F E E D
Twinkle, twinkle, little star
C C G G A A G
How I wonder what you are
F F E E D D C

Here’s a helpful video tutorial from Mahalo.com for more practice:

If You’re Happy and You Know It

This is one of the most fun keyboard songs for beginners. The tune gives your little musician the chance to clap and dance while playing. The only tricky part of this song is the inclusion of B flat.

This note is the small black key located directly between the A and B keys. If you are using a toy piano or xylophone, you may not have this key and can leave it out.

If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands
C C F F F F F F E F G
If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands
C C G G G G G G F G A
If you’re happy and you know it
A A Bb Bb Bb Bb D D
Then your face will surely show it
Bb Bb A A A G F F
If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands
A A G G G F E E D E F

Here’s another helpful tutorial:

The Itsy Bitsy Spider

Children love singing this song and it’s pretty simple to play, too. One fun idea is for you to play the song while your child does the motions, then switch roles.

The itsy bitsy spider went up the water spout
G C C C D E E E D C D E C
Down came the rain and washed the spider out
E E F G G F E F G E
Out came the sun and dried up all the rain
C C D E E D C D E C
And the itsy bitsy spider went up the spout again
G G C C C D E E E D C D E C

Here’s a super slow tutorial that is easy to follow along with:

Old MacDonald Had a Farm

This is another classic children’s song that your son or daughter will love playing over and over again so they can sing about every animal on the farm.

Old MacDonald had a farm
G G G D E E D
E-i-e-i-o
B B A A G
And on that farm he had a cow
D G G G D E E D
E-i-e-i-o
B B A A G
With a moo moo here and a moo moo there
D D G G G D D G G G
Here a moo, there a moo
G G G G G G
Everywhere a moo moo
G G G G G G
Old MacDonald had a farm
G G G D E E D
E-i-e-i-o
B B A A G

Here’s a tutorial for this easy piano song:

These keyboard songs for beginners will help your child learn the basics of music and have fun while doing it. Learning how to play the piano is a rewarding journey at any age, so if your child enjoys playing these songs, consider signing him or her up for private piano lessons. This is a great way to improve their technique for years to come!

Do you and your child have another favorite tune you like to play together? Let us know in the comments below!

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How to Play Acoustic Guitar

5 Easy Acoustic Guitar Chords & 20 Basic Songs for Beginners

How to Play Acoustic Guitar

One of the best things about the guitar is that you only need a handful of chords to unlock an impressive repertoire of songs. Open-string basic chords are where everybody starts when they first pick up the instrument, so whether you’re looking to learn classic songs or write material of your own, knowing these easy acoustic guitar chords is a must.

It takes some practice to be able to memorize chord shapes and switch between them quickly enough to play a song. The good news is that once you have just 5 basic chords down, you can play along with dozens of your favorite tunes.

In this post, you’ll learn how to read guitar chord grids along with the 5 important guitar chord shapes. We’ll take a look at one chord-change exercise that will help you get your chord playing skills up to speed in no time. And we’ll review some of the most popular songs that use these basic chords, so you can strum along!

How to Play 20 Guitar Songs with 5 Basic Chords

Smart Practicing

If you’re just starting out on the guitar, it’s good to be aware of some of the challenges that every new player faces. The fact is that everyone’s fingers feel awkward the first time they try to learn the guitar, but it’s important to stick it out at least until you have the basic chords down. Your fingers need to develop some strength and dexterity in order to switch between chords quickly, and the only way to do this is to keep on playing. Even five minutes a day for a couple of weeks will make a huge difference!

Understanding Chord-Grid Notation

Along with guitar tablature (or “tabs”), chord grids are an important shorthand method of notating guitar music. Although it is important for all guitar students to learn to read music notation eventually, tablature and chord grids are usually a better option for beginners who just want to learn simple rock, pop, or folk songs quickly. Remember, the notation is just a means to an end, and just another way to learn something you’ll play on your guitar.

basic guitar chord gridWith chord-grids, you are looking at a simple diagram, or snapshot, of the guitar neck. The guitar is oriented so that the headstock is pointing upward; horizontal lines represent the fret-wires that separate the frets (spaces), and the vertical lines are strings.

Dots inside the diagram represent left-hand fingers, which are placed over the string inside the indicated fret. For the ‘A’ chord pictured here, all three fingers sit inside the second fret. Set your fourth (pinky) finger on the 2nd string, your third (ring) finger on the 3rd string, and your second (middle) finger on the 4th string.

Often the left-hand thumb will stay anchored on top of the neck to deaden the sixth string. Alternatively, the edge of a fretting finger can be used to mute an adjacent string. This is called a flesh mute and allows the guitarist to strum all six strings so that only five strings are heard.

5 Open-String, Easy Guitar Chords for Beginners

A, C, D, Em, G Guitar Chords for Beginners

Once you understand the notation, the next step is to get the chords down by memory. In some cases, these basic guitar chords can be remembered easily by comparing them to geometric shapes. If you connect the dots inside each grid, you’ll see that the ‘A’ is a straight line, the ‘C’ is a diagonal line, the ‘D’ is an equilateral triangle, and the ‘G’ chord forms an isosceles triangle.

After you have the chords memorized, it’s time to check each chord string-by-string to ensure all the notes are sounding. Pick through each string going downward from the bass strings to the treble strings. Listen closely to verify each note. If a string is muted, try resetting the fingers so they sit higher on the fingertips. Make sure the fingers do not touch against any open strings, thereby dampening them.

Chord Change Drills

guitar chord progressions

Practice changing between any two chords using this simple drill. Play each chord on beats 1 & 3, lift the fingers completely on beats 2 & 4, and repeat. Make sure to set and remove all the fingers together (simultaneously). By doing this for a few minutes each day, you will learn to do fast and clean chord changes in the left hand, which is key to being able to play songs well.

20 Beginner Guitar Songs Using Only A, C, D, Em, and G Chords

Now that you’ve mastered the easy guitar chords for beginners, you can move on to learning dozens of new songs. When taking on a new number, start slowly and work your way up to the tempo of the song. Once you’ve got it down, try playing along with the recording or grab friends and ask them to sing along! Many songs will have small variations in how the chords are played, and you can explore that after you’ve got a grip on the basic chords.

Here’s a list of 20 easy guitar songs that use only these five chords:

1. Bad Moon Rising (Credence Clearwater Revival)

2. Eleanor Rigby (The Beatles)

3. Brown Eyed Girl (Van Morrison)

4. Catch the Wind (Donovan)

5. Clementine 

6. Sweet Home Alabama (Lynyrd Skynyrd)

7. Lightly Row 

8. Amazing Grace 

9. Time of Your Life (Green Day)

10. Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star 

11. Heart of Gold (Neil Young)

12. Old MacDonald 

13. Story of My Life (Social Distortion)

14. Louie, Louie (The Kingsmen)

15. What I Got (Sublime)

16. Free Fallin’ (Tom Petty)

17. Anything, Anything (Dramarama)

18. Rockin’ in the Free World (Neil Young)

19. Mary Had a Little Lamb 

20. Viva la Vida (Coldplay)

These songs are just the beginning! If you need help mastering these chords or want to add more difficult chords (such as the F Chord) to your repertoire, the best way is to work with a guitar teacher near you. Taking guitar lessons is a great way to ensure that you’re building your skills on a solid foundation. Now go have fun rocking out!

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Winter Study Motivation

3 Strategies for Learning Motivation in Winter

 

Motivation doesn’t strike by waving a magic wand or by drinking a special elixir. It isn’t something you’re born with, and you don’t stumble upon it by accident.

True motivation requires a strategy. A strategy that you can rely on when the going gets rough. And of course, if you are learning anything worthwhile – if you are striving for something great – then the going will almost certainly get rough at one time or another.

Whether you’re in the middle of a guitar course, mastering a new language, or studying ballet – you may hit seasonal slumps or encounter scheduling roadblocks. That’s when a motivation strategy will be more important than ever. 

One of those times is mid-winter – during that tough, cold stretch between the holidays and springtime. Long after the New Year’s resolution spirit fades, the middle of winter requires a carefully honed motivation strategy to keep you on track.

Let’s take a look at three proven ways to build a motivation strategy. Apply these tips to your life and stay inspired on the harshest winter day.

1. Revisit the Reasons

Whether it’s singing, sewing, or mathematics; there are personal reasons why you chose to pursue that specific skill. There was a driving force, a spark of inspiration, and a deep-held impetus that set you on the path you’re on today. 

It’s essential revisit those reasons in winter; to remind yourself why you’re running at sunrise, practicing the piano after work, or reciting Greek verbs before bedtime.

“Keep that list close by and within sight every day – stick it on your refrigerator, or post it above your bed.”

Sit down with a pen and paper, and make a list of the reasons why you started this journey. Keep that list close by and within sight every day – stick it on your refrigerator, or post it above your bed. A visual reminder of your personal motivation story will re-energize your learning and keep you on pace to reach your goals.

2. Visualize the Outcome

Even on the brightest summer day, it can be hard to see the big picture – hard to imagine life beyond the current moment. During the mid-winter months, our ability to put circumstances into context is further challenged by seasonal struggles. When you experience a winter slump, it’s extra important to stretch your imagination.

Make time to sit down with a warm mug of tea and picture – very clearly – what it is you want. Go a step further and either draw a sketch of yourself achieving your goal, or write an outline describing what life will look like when you reach the finish line. A morning exercise of putting pen to paper will fuel your motivation for the day ahead.

“Draw a sketch of yourself achieving your goal, or write an outline describing what life will look like when you reach the finish line.”

Perhaps your goal is to have a real conversation in Hungarian or dance salsa at a club competition. The process of visualizing yourself living your dream is a powerful reminder of why you are doing what you’re doing right now. And that will make all those hours of practice and study more meaningful than ever.

3. Evaluate Your Toolbox

When you’re in the thick of your learning journey, you will likely experience a mixture of successes and hardships; elements that are working well and items you are struggling with. Mid-winter is the time to evaluate what you need to improve your experience.

“Taking the time to pause and evaluate can help you identify problem areas. Use this newfound perspective to enhance your toolbox and motivate your efforts.”

Start by making a list of what’s working. List all the tools you have that are helping you thrive. These tools could include a great vocal instructor or a well-equipped writing desk. Create this list with an attitude of gratitude for what has helped you come this far.

Then, make a wish list of the tools you still need – learning resources that could make your education more effective. Maybe you realized that you need a dedicated mentor, or that you would like a study buddy on the weekends. This list could also include tangible items like a new musical instrument or physical space for practicing.

Taking the time to pause and evaluate can help you identify problem areas. Use this newfound perspective to enhance your toolbox and motivate your efforts.

Ready to learn? Browse lessons to gain skills, have fun, and build a better you!

How to Tune Ukulele

How to Tune a Ukulele: A Step-by-Step Guide for Beginners

How to Tune Ukulele

One of the first things you need to learn when taking ukulele lessons is how to tune a ukulele. Ukulele tuning is a must if you want it to sound good.

In this article we’ll provide a step-by-step guide on tuning a ukulele for beginners. Tuning can be difficult, but with this guide, you’ll become a master at tuning your ukulele before you know it.

This guide will teach you how to tune a ukulele to standard tuning, as well as how to tune various types of ukuleles including tenor, soprano, and bass ukuleles. You’ll learn how to tune a ukulele by ear and to itself, and you’ll also learn about uke tuners and tuning apps.

If you’re looking for something specific, you can jump around throughout the guide here:


How to Tune a Ukulele

If you know nothing about tuning a stringed instrument, check out this video on how to tune a guitar from world famous guitarist and songwriter James Taylor. This video covers a lot of details about tuning in general, and you can apply the same principles to tuning a ukulele.

Standard Ukulele Tuning

The ukulele is typically tuned to the notes G, C, E, and A. This has been the “standard” since the advent of the internet. Before the internet, you could find people who tune their ukulele to A, D, F#, B or even fiddle tunings like A, D, A, D or G, C, D, G.

Ukulele Tuning for Beginners

How to Tune a Ukulele With a Piano

Today, most of the books and videos you will find use G4, C4, E4, A4 as the standard ukulele tuning. The fours behind the letters represent the octave that you will find on the piano.

So if you happen to have a keyboard or a piano, C4 is known as middle C. If you tune your ukulele to match middle C, then the E above middle C, and the A above middle C, and then tune the first string to the G above middle C, you will be in what is known as standard ukulele tuning.

Here’s a good illustration of how to tune a ukulele with a piano from The Uke website.

Ukulele tuning with a piano

Image courtesy The Uke

How to Tune a Ukulele With a Tuner

So what do you do if you don’t have a piano? Well, you will need to get yourself a chromatic tuner. I use a Korg chromatic tuner, and I love it! I have tried a lot of other tuners, but the Korg is my favorite.

Tune Ukulele with a Korg Tuner

Korg CA-40 Electronic Chromatic Tuner – Image Courtesy Musician’s Friend

You can purchase several brands of tuners for a reasonable price at places like Musician’s Friend and Sweetwater. You will find that there are different types of tuners, and not all tuners are chromatic. Which leads us to our next topic, what exactly does chromatic mean?

If a tuner is chromatic, it enables you to tune to all of the notes. Guitar tuners are not chromatic. They’re calibrated to only pick up the notes that are used on the guitar in standard tuning. Which means they can tune E, A, D, G, B and E, but it’s hard to tune to C or F# or Bb, or any of the remaining notes that aren’t covered by a regular guitar tuner.

For this reason, I advise all of my students to buy chromatic tuners instead of standard guitar tuners.

How to Tune a Ukulele by Ear

If you get a used or vintage ukulele, you probably won’t have a tuner. Instead you might get some really old books or brochures and something called a pitch pipe. A pitch pipe is a neat mini harmonica that plays one note at a time when you blow into it. In some cases, you may have a pitch pipe that wasn’t designed for your instrument, so you have to know how to tune one string to the pitch pipe, and the other strings to the first string.

This can be a bit of a challenge, but I’m going to walk you through it. First, you need a reference note. Typically your reference note is middle C. When you blow on the pitch pipe, or play the note on the piano, you hear middle C. Then, you must twist the tuner on your ukulele until it matches. If you twist counter clockwise on the first two strings, you will tighten the string, and make it go up in pitch. So if you start on B, and twist counter-clockwise, you will be somewhere between B and C. If you keep twisting, you will finally get to C. But don’t twist too far, or you will overshoot C and end up on C# or somewhere between C and C#.

Likewise, if you twist clockwise, you will go down in pitch. So if you are on B again, and you twist clockwise, you will end up on Bb, or somewhere between B and Bb.

So when you match middle C on your pitch pipe to middle C on your ukulele, you’re ready to start tuning your ukulele to the notes on the fretboard on the C string. Now think about it for a minute: You have your ukulele tuned to middle C, and now you need to get an E sound, so you can try to tune the next string to that E. If you count up from C, you will eventually get to E. The first fret is C#, the second fret up from there is D. Then the third fret is D#, and then finally the fourth fret is the E you’re looking for.

If you hold down the fourth fret, you will hear an E that you can tune the next string to. Now remember, when you get to tuning that E string, you’re on the opposite side of the neck, so twist in the opposite direction than you did before. Twisting clockwise will tighten the string and make it go up in pitch. Twisting counter-clockwise makes the string loosen or go down in pitch.

Now that you have your E, count up until you find the G (which is before the A string) and tune it. The first fret on the E string will be F, the second fret F#, and the third will be the G.

Once you get the G string tuned (which seems like you’re going forward and backward on the ukulele, but that’s OK), count up to the A note. The first fret is G# and the second fret is A. Now you can tune to that pitch, and you’ll be all in tune.

A final note on tuning: Once you think you get your instrument in tune, your strings will probably have stretched a bit. Sometimes, depending on your strings, the humidity, the types of tuners you have, and the type of wood your ukulele is made of, your ukulele will not be in tune immediately after you tune it. So you have to go back through the whole process two or three times to fine tune your ukulele. Once you’ve done this, you’re ready to play!


How to Tune Different Types of Ukuleles

Now you might have one of several types of ukuleles. They’re not all the same. Here is a chart that covers the various types of ukuleles and the notes of their standard tuning.

Standard and alternative tuning for different types of ukuleles


Alternate Tunings

You can create a few fun alternate tunings by tuning each string up or down two steps. I find that if you try tuning more than two steps, you will break strings. So if standard tuning is G, C, E, A, then try tuning the G to a G# or an A, and make chords out of the open tuning. What goes with G#? The E chord would work. So you could tune your C down to a B, leave the E alone, and keep the A or tune it to a G# as well. You could try Open C tuning and tune your top A down to a G. Or try C7 tuning, and tune the A to a Bb.

There are so many different types of tunings that you can try. If you find an alternate tuning you like, let us know in the comments section below! Here’s a refresher on basic ukulele chords.


Ukulele Tuning Apps

There are a lot of good ukulele tuning apps out there. Here are a few I recommend checking out:

iPhone

Free Chromatic Tuner Ukulele Tuning app

Free Chromatic Tuner

This free app works for both standard tuning and alternate tuning. You can download Free Chromatic Tuner from the iTunes app store.


Tuner Lite app for Uke Tuning

Tuner Lite

Tuner lite turns your smartphone into a chromatic tuner and pitch pipe.


Android

Fine Chromatic Tuner for Ukulele Tuning

Fine Chromatic Tuner

Fine Chromatic Tuner uses the built-in mic on your phone to help you get your uke in tune.


Chord! app for Ukulele Tuning

Chord!

You can download Chord! for both iPhone and Android. There’s a free and paid version, and the app allows you to find multiple tunings for lots of different stringed instruments, as well as chords, scales, and other useful information.


Now you know several ways to get your uke in tune. Ukulele tuning may seem difficult at first, but find the method that works best for you and keep practicing! Try practicing with these 10 easy ukulele songs.

Have you learned any cool tricks that help you tune your ukulele? Share them with us in the comments below! 

Willy MPost Author: Willy M.
Willy M. teaches guitar, ukulele, and mandolin lessons in Winston Salem, NC. He’s the author of the Dead Man’s Tuning series of mandolin songbooks, and is a former member of the American Federation of Musicians. Willy has been teaching for 20 years, and his students have ranged in age from young children to folks in their 80s. Learn more about Willy here!

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Sight Reading Piano

9 Piano Sight Reading Exercises for Beginners

Sight Reading Piano

The ability to sight read well is a skill that every pianist should have. Below, piano teacher Ryan C. shares 9 piano sight reading exercises to help you master this important skill…

It’s the first day of rehearsals at your school’s choir. Everyone has been assigned new music that they haven’t seen or sung before. You can sing, but you definitely consider yourself more of a pianist.

Your teacher walks in and solemnly says: “Hi everyone, our pianist is sick today, so we’re going to have to work on voice parts one part at a time, because my sight-reading skills aren’t that great. Unless, of course, someone here can sight read all the parts?”

You waste no time in raising your hand and declaring “I can do it!”

What is Piano Sight Reading?

Sight reading is essentially what its’ name implies: the ability to look at a piece of music and play it with very little to no prior rehearsal time.

Sight reading is a skill in which every pianist needs to become familiar, even if it means that he or she is only able to sight read pieces that are at or below his or her level of repertoire-performance.

Sight reading not only involves reading notes, but also encompasses implied musicality. For instance, a pianist should be able to take musical queues and respond appropriately when paired with other instrumentalists or singers.

Overall phrase shape, texture, and mood should all be considered when sight reading a new piece. These concepts are often reinforced by the other people you’re playing with, who can help you interpret the way to play a new piece.

Why Piano Sight Reading is Important

As displayed in the introduction scenario, it’s easy to see why sight reading would be useful in a plethora of situations. For instance, a good sight reader will almost always have employment options available.

Options such as working as an accompanist, being a pianist for a choir, a studio musician, a church pianist, and multiple other options, are always in constant demand.

Additionally, a pianist who has strong piano sight reading abilities will often be able to learn music at a much faster rate than those who can’t read as well.

It’s essentially the difference between reading one letter at a time and reading one word at a time. Just imagine how long this article would take to read if you could only read one letter at a time.

It’s surprising to see how many new pianists unknowingly take the second, more difficult approach to reading.

With the 9 piano sight reading exercises below, I will give you some options to help speed up your reading and quickly get you to a higher level of piano sight reading ability.

But before we get into the piano sight reading exercises, take a quick look at this 5-minute video on the basics of sight reading from Pianist Magazine.

9 Piano Sight Reading Exercises for Beginners

Below are some helpful piano sight reading exercises. These will assume that you have at least a few minutes to look at a piece before you have to play it. Let’s get started!

1. Flashcards

Unfortunately, memorizing notes can seem really tedious at first; nonetheless, it’s an important step that everyone must take.

If you spend just 10 minutes a day working on it, you’ll have the majority of the notes that are within the lines (not on ledger lines) on both the Treble and Bass Clefs memorized within several weeks.

Using flashcards is a great way to memorize notes. Just throw them in your bag and review them whenever you have a few minutes; for example, while you’re on the bus or in between classes.

2. Always Think Musically

It’s very easy to get sucked into thinking that you have to play all of the notes perfectly and forget the innate musicality of what you’re playing.

Remember, this is music–it should be musical. When something becomes too “note-y” and ceases to sound musical, what’s the point of playing it?

Even in piano sight reading, therefore, think of the musicality that defines the piece and do your best to bring that out.

3. Think Contour, Not Note Name

After you have enough notes memorized to get the starting pitches on passagework, don’t try to read every note of a passage.

Rather, look at the contour (or direction) of the notes. Do they go up or down? By how much (whole-step or half-step)?

By taking this approach, you’ll be able to easily read passagework that would take significantly longer to read if you were trying to read every single note separately.

4. Remember Your Scales

In a particular passage, do you see a succession of notes that seem to be going way up or down the staff? Does it have any sharps or flats? What note does it start and end on? Does it skip any notes?

If you ask yourself questions like these throughout you’re playing, you’ll find that many of the scale-like passages within pieces use fingerings from scales that you probably already know.

5. Practice Easy Pieces Based on Closed Hand Positions

This is a great exercise for beginners to get their feet wet with piano sight-reading.

There are even some great piano sight-reading book series out there, specifically by Lin Ling-Ling and Boris Berlin, that utilize this idea.

In essence, students should practice pieces that use five-finger positions that don’t give them the note-names or finger numbers except for the ones at the beginning of a piece.

This forces students to look at the contour and internally distinguish what finger is playing each note.

Even if they don’t know the note names yet, this method of reading is highly effective and produces great results.

6. Read Ahead as Much as Possible

This is super, super important! When sight reading anything, you always need to be a few notes ahead of what you’re actually playing.

To paraphrase one of my faculty accompanist mentors at SDSU: “Read it, and move on!”

In essence, after you read something, you should already be reading notes ahead of what you’re playing.

7. Practice Reading Hands Separately

Practice reading each hand separately, but preparing the other hand for its section well before it actually needs to play.

This piano sight reading exercise is actually way more important than it sounds. While I don’t think that students should stay for a long time in the hands-separate world, I do think that the method of preparing the opposite hand early is extremely important.

I’ve noticed that the biggest obstacle my students often face in piano sight-reading is the lack of preparation of the opposing hand.

They are often reading one hand perfectly, then the other hand starts a melody and the student has neither prepared it or looked far enough ahead to know what the starting pitch/hand position should be.

8. Play Through the Piece Without Stopping

Piano sight-reading is as much about reading notes as it is about supporting the other people you’re playing with.

In many cases, a sight-reading pianist is often playing in combination with an ensemble of some type. Therefore, you cannot stop playing.

Even if you can’t read all the music, always keep counting and play what you can, when you can.

Play at a manageable speed in which you can read as much music as possible and continue to play and count even when you make mistakes, no matter how severe they are.

Try not to repeat pieces you’ve already played, because then it’s no longer sight-reading, it’s just practice.

As an important side note, don’t use this method when practicing repertoire – always try to avoid learning incorrect notes.

9. Familiarize Yourself with Note Combinations

Chords and triads are the building blocks of harmony. Make a goal to learn all the major and minor chords that can be played on white keys, (C, D, E, F, G, A, B Major & Minor).

Now memorize the letter combinations that make up each chord. For instance, E Major = E, G#, B ; E Minor = E, G, B ; etc. Eventually, move onto the black key combinations, inversions, and seventh chords.

This step is incredibly important for students who are more on the intermediate side of piano sight reading. There will come a point in your reading in which you’re seeing things more as chords, and less as individual notes.

By having a solid foundation in the notes that make up chords, you’re saving yourself tons of time down the line. It’s much like the difference described earlier – reading entire words at one time compared to reading individual letters.

Now You’re Ready!

The ability to sight read well is a skill that every pianist should aspire to do, as it opens up career opportunities for a pianist.

For a student, this skill set will enable you to learn music faster, more accurately, and spend less time working on trying to read every note.

I hope that some of these tips will be helpful and give you some new insight into the world of piano sight reading!

Photo by Frédéric BISSON

Post Author: Ryan C.
Ryan C. teaches piano, ear training, and music theory. He is a graduate of San Diego State University with a B.M. in piano performance. Learn more about Ryan here!

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