Start with Stride
Let’s get started
So, we have a nice, slow and simple song “The Streets of Laredo.” What do we do with it? Until I cover topics like “How to make a chord” I’ll just give you the chord names.
When I first introduce to my students their first song to improvise, I tell them to play the triad with the melody. So, let’s break this down.
You would play a “F” chord (F-A-C) on the beats where “F” is written above the words “I” and “streets”.
You would play an “C” chord (C-E-G) on the words “walk-” and “re” or Laredo.
At the start, I tell my students to treat all 7th chords as a simple triad until they learn how to construct a dominant seventh chord.
The only other chord you need to know, to play this song is D minor (written as Dm in lines 2 and 3 of the song). Play the notes D-F A.
All these chords are on white keys – another reason to start with an easy song – you can start teaching students to improvise after a couple of method books.
What is Stride?
On stride, you play the tonic (the name of the chord, such as F), in octaves if the hand can easily reach the notes, on the first beat. Then follow with the chord. In this song, play the chord on the second beat.
Give this a try and let me know if you can follow this. Before we try Open 10ths it would be good try try this method with a couple other songs. Choose slower songs to start with. When it becomes easier to play Stride, try faster songs. Songs with 4/4 time often work best with the chords played on the third beat. If you are a real fast learner, then go ahead and play the chords on the 2nd and 3rd or the 3rd and 4th beats. We will discuss Alternate Bass in a few weeks.