Mary Had a Little Lamb
Follow the diagrams below to see the “evolution” of lead sheet playing…
Start with the lead sheet:
Here, perhaps the most basic way to play a lead sheet:
Even easier – using “open” chords (also called “open fifths” or “shells”):
Once piano students understand how to add the left-hand chords this way, teach them how to do inversions of the I – IV-V chords.
Here is the way the chords would look with the closest regular G and F inversions (closest to the root position C chord):
Do you recognize the F and G7 chord inversions? Your students don’t need to wait until they encounter them in their method books to begin using them and developing an understanding of the relationship of the 3 main chords.
These forms of the most-used chords (the I, the IV, and the V) are not only prettier, but also ultimately EASIER than jumping back and forth, since the left hand hardly has to move.
With very young beginners, I like to start with the “pinch” chord (which is actually a G7, and not just a G chord) and the “baby” or “little F” chord. Here’s how the open C and pinch G would look with Mary Had a Little Lamb…
What about the IV (four) chord?
Now it is time to change songs, because Mary Had a Little Lamb only uses two chords. Let’s change to “Twinkle” to demonstrate the use of the IV chord (which will be “F” if we play it in the key of C, as I usually do with beginners). Here is the beginning of “Twinkle” using the C chord in root position, and F and G inversions:
Here is the beginning of “Twinkle” with C, pinch G, and little F chords:
Here is Twinkle with pretty broken chords, MUCH more difficult for young students (but where you are heading):
Along the way to playing it like that, is an in-between version:
These are only a few ideas, the beginnings of where you can go with these free lead sheets. See other pages, such as Mary Had a Little Lamb, for more ideas. Have fun!