I find it very refreshing to face a challenge that puts me to the test as a piano teacher, from time to time.
One of my 8yo pupils brought a sheet of paper with the lyrics of Christina Perri’s Human written on it, and told me that she wants to learn to self-accompany on the piano singing this song for the talent show at her school in 3 weeks time.
Next week is a half term, hence no piano lesson next week, so basically she was asking me to show her how to play the piano part of a song I’ve never heard of in 30 minutes, with her late elementary piano playing skill.
My PC in my piano room just crashed the night before, so no YouTube access! Then I realised that my husband has got an iPad (the only time I found it very useful unquestionably)! So, we YouTubed it and listened to the song and created a simple harmony in an easier key for her to be able to play as she sings. Not easy for someone who’s still learning to coordinate between singing and playing different things at the same time.
I generally like Christina Perri’s songs. Her songs tend to have some elements that can be explored in an educational sense, either harmonically or rhythmically based on a clean song form; verse – pre chorus – chorus – bridge – chorus.
Here’s what we came up with during the lesson and learned in 30 minutes.
We set the accompanying pattern to be a simple repetition of descending parallel 10th, in two different keys (C major & A minor), with a sustaining major chord (F major) for the pre-chorus section and also to link between Chorus and Verse.
Simple idea sometimes works just as fine as more elaborate one. What we have here is just a three-note descending scale with the hands separated by the interval 10th. One note each for each hand consists partially of a major or minor chord, which defines the harmonic base for this song.
Since this piano part is very simple, it can be a good coordination exercise for those who are starting to sing and play different things at the same time. It gives you an unexplainable joy when two things fit together and out comes a pleasing harmony! This song in particular offers a very simple and repetitive melody, so coordinating with piano playing can be easily done for the very beginners too, I suspect.
All you need is a sheet of paper with a song’s lyrics in front of you and play these harmonies on the beat where it should fit as you sing. In that sense, it’s a good aural training as well. Have a try!
My pupil seemed content with this piano part without feeling tricky to coordinate with her own singing. Relief… Her singing was amazing though, it was the first time I’ve heard her sing a pop song properly. She’s been practising self-accompanying Adele’s Someone Like You for a very long time in the lessons, and she just started to get a grip on coordinating singing and playing different things at the same time. Now it’s time to put herself to the test to see if all this hard work is actually paying off or not.