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Music with Ease > Piano Chords for Beginners 3: Learn to Play the Carol, Good King Wenceslas, with Four Basic Chords

Piano Chords for Beginners 3: Learn to Play the Carol, Good King Wenceslas, with Four Basic Chords

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In these Piano Chords for Beginners articles, we have been looking at the most common chords and using them to make easy beginner piano music for some famous old Christmas carols.

We started off with two carols that only require Major chords, Silent Night and Away in a Manger. For Good King Wenceslas, we will need to add a different type of piano chord to our repertoire: the Minor chord.

Major and Minor Chords

To construct a Minor chord:

  1. Look at the corresponding Major chord;
  2. Do not change the first or last notes of this chord; but
  3. Find the middle note of the chord and lower it by one half-step or semitone. That is, use the next adjacent black or white note below the middle note.
In our Away in a Manger article, we learned that:

-- The D Major chord is: D F# and A


-- The D Minor chord is: D F A

The chord symbol of the D Minor chord is: Dm.

Good King Wenceslas: Three Major Chords and One Minor Chord

For this Christmas carol we will need the following piano chords:

F Major:

-- Notes: F A C

-- Chord Symbol: F

Bb Major:

-- Notes: Bb D F

-- Chord Symbol: Bb

C Major:

-- Notes: C E G

-- Chord Symbol: C

D Minor:

-- Notes: D F A

-- Chord Symbol: Dm

Practice these four chords in the two octaves below Middle C on your piano until you are familiar with their finger positions and can find them quickly.

Good King Wenceslas Melody

The melody of Good King Wenceslas starts on the first F note above Middle C. Begin to play with the fourth finger of your right hand. The ][ symbols in my notation represent bar lines separating the bars. There are four quarter-note or crotchet beats in every bar in this melody.

Good King Wences -][ las looked out ][

F F F G ][ F F C ][

on the Feast of ][ Ste-phen, ][

D C D E ][ F F ][

When the snow lay ][ round about, ][

F F F G ][ F F C ][

Deep and crisp and ][ e-ven: ][

D C D E ][ F F ][

Brightly shone the ][ moon that night, ][

C Bb A G ][ A G F ][

Though the frost was ][ cru-el, ][

D C D E ][ F F ][

When a poor man ][ came in sight, ][

C C D E ][ F F G ][

Gath'ring winter ][ fu - u - ][ el. ][

C Bb A G ][ F Bb ][ F ][

Practice this until you can play it from memory.

Good King Wenceslas Chord Accompaniment

Now here are the piano chords to play with the tune of Good King Wenceslas. Play the chords with your left hand at a regular pace, while you play the melody with your right hand:

Good King Wences -][ las looked out ][


on the Feast of ][ Ste - phen, ][


When the snow lay ][ round about, ][


Deep and crisp and ][ e - ven: ][


Brightly shone the ][ moon that night, ][


Though the frost was ][ cru - el, ][


When a poor man ][ came in sight, ][


Gath'ring winter ][ fu - u - ][ el. ][


The next article in this series will introduce the beautiful Seventh chords as we play a simple accompaniment for the old carol, O Christmas Tree.

To really progress in your playing of piano chord accompaniments, you need to master the following two basic skills:

-- you need to learn how to read music notes on the staves; and

-- you need to learn to play the accompaniment chords that are represented by chord symbols in books of popular music: e.g. C, Cm, C7, Cdim, etc.

With the right instruction these skills can be easily acquired and can usher you into the satisfying world of playing popular piano music with ease!

About the Author:

Betty Wagner of Music With Ease has been teaching music for over 30 years. Betty's unique multimedia ebooks make learning to play the piano fun, simple, and easy on your pocketbook! Her Playing Popular Music With Ease ebook teaches beginner piano chords, taking you step-by-step from the simplest chords to advanced accompaniments. It features clear examples, with every note named, and embedded music clips so you can actually hear the piano chords and techniques. Or have fun learning to read music with the Reading Music Notes With Ease ebook -- available in two versions, for adult beginners: /read-music-notes-adults.html and for kids: /read-music-notes-beginners.html

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See also:
Middle Ages Music
Renaissance Music
Baroque Era Music
Classical Era Music
Romantic Era Music
Nationalist Era Music
Turn of Century Music

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