Don’t you just love it when someone else does all the hard work and puts together a systematic approach to teaching something that is just the way you would do it? Honestly, it’s pretty rare to find something that’s a perfect fit, but T.K. Goforth has done just that with her book, Chord Piano Is Fun!
The book begins with a fabulous introduction of How to Create a Major Scale, then moves into chords, scale degrees, chord inversions, key signatures, 7th chords, and more! All of this is introduced with the objective of helping pianists learn how to play from a lead sheet (a.k.a. fake book). The layout of the book is very clean, with lots of helpful images, and some of the most concise explanations I’ve read for various theoretical elements in music. This would be perfect for a student who wants to learn chording skills on their own, or for a teacher who is struggling to know how to introduce scales, chords, key signatures, and playing from a lead sheet to his or her students.
I love that the terminology used is accurate, but is broken down in such a way that even beginning students can begin to grasp the concepts. The one exception to this that I’ve discovered is the use of the term, “Family Chords” rather than “Primary Triads.” I could definitely work around this, though, for the value to be gained from the rest of the book. There is even a brief lesson on song-writing in the back that I think would be appealing to a lot of students!
The primary reason that I rarely use theory books with my students is due to a lack of relevance. The written material is divorced from the music that they are playing and it becomes more of a busywork assignment than a real learning tool. A book like Chord Piano Is Fun! is a wonderful approach to learning theory because what is being learned is immediately relevant to music and styles that the student wants to learn to play. I am excited to begin using it in my studio! And the great news is that you can win a copy for you or one of your students, too! Just leave a comment below and you’ll be entered in a drawing to win your own Chord Piano Is Fun! book! The drawing will end at noon (CST) on Thursday, February 17, and the winner will be drawn using a random number generator.