"Waltzing Matilda" is a very popular song in my studio. Guitar players love it, singers love it, piano players love it. At my recent Spring recital, I had to deny one student the privilege of playing this song, because two others had already spoken for it! (A fiddle and guitar duo, and a pianist who had made an arrangement with broken chords.) This famous Australian song has a beautiful melody, but funny lyrics.
Like The Water is Wide, Waltzing Matilda uses most of the chords in its "chord family group". It is therefore not just a really beautiful song, but a good chord training song, both for pianists and for guitar players. So far, I have resisted writing out left hand chords for pianists, because part of what I want my piano players to learn is how to take chord symbols in a Fake book or lead sheet, and make up their own arrangements. This song lends itself to a walking bass, and pretty right hand harmony such as thirds.
Below is the same melody, but with free guitar tabs:
After students have conquered the melody -- sometimes it will be at the same lesson -- we start the chords. For pianists, Weeks 1 and 2 will likely be just simple open chords. For beginning guitar players, they will be happiest with simple strumming.
But after they have learned the rhythm and chord changes well, it is time to make the accompaniment more interesting. For guitar, try different fingerpicking patterns, such as Thumb, index, middle, ring, with an alternating thumb (use primary and secondary strings for the bass of the chord), or get a little fancier with Thumb, index, middle & ring together, back to index. Repeat.
For piano, try different kinds of broken chords, and even some right-hand harmony. This is a good opportunity to discuss and try chord inversions and slash chords, ( What is a slash chord? Here is a C slash chord: C/G, which means a C chord with a G note in the bass instead of C. See the second line of music below.) Here is an example of what you and your student could try:
The smoothest fingering I have found for the right hand in Waltzing Matilda for beginners is to lift the thumb off the lowest note (beat 1) of measure 3 and place the thumb on the next note, 4 steps higher. (That would take place on the word "Un-der".) This isn't a standard kind of fingering, but it works for a young player. The pedal can smooth it out! The rest of the fingering is pretty intuitive.
I know your students -- vocal, piano, and guitar -- will love this free popular sheet music!
Thank you for the free downloads! I'm a private teacher and I teach piano and beginner voice as well. :) I've been running my studio for about a year and I've come across the same issue; I don't want my students to have to purchase an entire supplemental book for only a couple of songs. So thank you for this site...some great downloads!!
I recently purchased your arrangement of The Moldau (a longtime favorite of mine). I wasn't sure if any of my students would be interested in it, but to my amazement 3 of my students LOVE it. Thank you so much for making your great arrangement.
Miggy, United Kingdom:
I've just found your website and I think I've died and gone to heaven. I've just taken up the piano again after 35 years absence... buying sheet music was getting expensive/a luxury. The tips are great too. I also live in the middle of nowhere so buying from a shop is not really an option unless I fancy a 120 mile round trip for a piece of sheet music!
Helpful Piano Sites
EyeEarRevolution (a blog)
Martha Beth's Piano Site
Piano Music for Boys (Teach Piano Today)
Piano Adventures Forum
Susan Paradis Teacher Resources
Kim in Washington:
My son is hooked...I've been introducing piano to my son on and off for a year or so, but he's not had much interest. Then I gave him "Monsters Everywhere". He loved playing it with the organ sound on our piano. He memorized it that week and I'm printing off the other Halloween songs to keep him going. I love the detailed instructions on teaching since he is my first student! Thanks so much.
That is so neat that your son has experienced the magic and mystery of music through this little song. That is so exciting to me. Thanks for writing, Kim!
Thank you so much for this website, I have found just about everything that I need in music.