These songs give you some experience adding chords to familiar songs on the piano or keyboard. As you play the songs, try to identify the chords as you play them in the left hand and match them to the chord symbols written above the treble staff. First locate the chord root, then the third, fifth, and seventh (if included).

If you notice any chord inversions, see how they affect the chord progression and melody.

1

“Down by the Station”:

This song lets you play a few major chords with your left hand. If you play along with the audio track, you’ll notice that it plays both the chords and the melody. You can play the left hand part by itself until you get comfortable with the shape of the chords in your hand. Then add the melody.

2

“Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child”:

This spiritual gives you practice playing minor chords and a couple of major chords, too. It also has some chord inversions.

3

“Lullaby”:

You’ll find all kinds of seventh chords in all kinds of music, from classical to pop. Johannes Brahms’s famous “Lullaby” is an example of how seventh chords can create a little harmonic variety. Just don’t let it lull you to sleep.

4

“Scarborough Fair”:

This song is in a minor key — D minor. It gives you a chance to play chords in your left hand based on the chord symbols. The bass clef staff is left open for you to write in the notes of each chord.

5

“Red River Valley”:

This song calls for lots of chord inversions. It has triads and seventh chords along with first, second, and third inversions and a few garden-variety root position chords. Notice how the left hand plays half-note chords, with a few quarter-note changes in important places. You can change the inversion of a chord when the chord symbols are infrequent, as in this folk song.