Chord Piano Is Fun is the “labor of love” by pianist, performer and educator T.K. Goforth who, when she started teaching her students how to play popular music, discovered she could not find one book or method that met her needs, i.e. a step-by-step method easy enough to be used as a self-teaching tool, and/or sufficiently informative for a “traditionally” trained teacher to pick up and teach from.
What is it about?
Essentially, a how-to book on how to play songs in lead sheet form (music pieces containing only the melody or right hand/Treble Clef notes, chord symbols, and lyrics, if any) from Fake or Real books but at the simplest level, as evidenced by the pieces used, e.g. Mary Had a Little Lamb, Yankee Doodle, Jingle Bells, etc., and by the use of only the primary chords (I, IV, V or V7) of the three major keys and their related minors, i.e. C (Am), F (Dm) and G (Em), as song examples. To be fair, the writer does stress the importance of knowing how to play all seven diatonic chords in all 12 keys and even includes all the necessary chord spellings, and then some.
Basic scale and chord theory is laid out immediately and its importance emphasized, along with assignments to help drill these concepts down. There are a lot of helpful ideas and mnemonics to assist in memorizing fundamental theory concepts. Also, all three minor scales are laid out and explained as should be for any true discussion of modern harmony.
I also like the many charts included, e.g. one on Key Signature identification with columns indicating number of sharps/flats for each key and how it looks next to a Treble or Bass clef — very helpful for forgetful students! The addendum section is an excellent resource for further musical exploration. Addendum 2, for example, shows the common hand positions when playing chord changes in different keys. (Perhaps inserting photo diagrams would be useful here, especially for DIY students.)
Who is it for?
Is it fun? Some adolescents or adult students may be put off by the simple song selections; while most kids will be able to relate to the familiar pieces, although I know my 8-year-old students are also asking to play songs by Lady Gaga and Jason Mraz!
Anyway, anyone — especially those who can read basic Treble Clef notes, or traditional piano teachers who want to spice up their piano lessons by teaching lead sheet playing — who can look past the song sample selections will be able to gain valuable and essential insights into how most songs can be satisfactorily arranged and played even without the help of a written or pre-arranged left hand or Bass Clef part! As the writer says, “Once you know chords, and how they go together, not only will you be able to pick something up by ear, but you will even be able to write your own music…You will learn to read chord charts fast and easily so that you can play popular, rock, jazz, country, or Christian music.”
What does it include?
The whole book consists of over 200 pages (with blank pages between chapters for your own notes — yeah!) with 27 chapters termed as “Lessons.” Click here to preview the first nine pages of the book, along with its Table of Contents.
Included towards the last few lessons is a section on extended chord formulas from 7ths to 13ths, but it’s not within the scope of the book to show their usage and application. As I see it, there are also three “bonus” sections or lessons: 1. how to compose your own song using the three primary chords learned in the course; 2. introduction to playing the blues; and 3. how to play accompaniment or backing piano.
And one final Grand Bonus of free updates (T.K. Goforth will upload clips and new teaching materials as and when) at her customer page if you purchase the book or e-book download.
How much is it and how can I get it?
As of writing, Chord Piano Is Fun is priced at $19.95 for the 204-page paperback version, and an immediate download for the e-version is $17.95. If you can’t wait to get your hands on a copy, the e-book is the obvious choice. However, the price fluctuates according to discounts offered by T.K.’s publisher, so go to the website to check for the latest best price.
For more information on Chord Piano Is Fun, just click here.
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