"The Vulture" - a music lesson plan for minor chords

Any music lesson plan on theory is meaningless without MUSIC to illustrate the principle.  Take a look at both a lead sheet and a full piano arrangement of Hilaire Belloc's humorous poem "The Vulture" for an illustration of minor chords in root and inversion positions.

The Vulture nicely shows the mood that minor chords can set, and how tension builds naturally as a chord progression plays out.  Introduce this song, and your students will "GET" minor cadence chords.  

First, a "simple" lead sheet.  (No, the melody is not a simple one like Mary Had a Little Lamb.  Students must be able to read and get around in the treble clef to master this melody!)


Download music lesson plan song "The Vulture" as a lead sheet

This famous old poem is by Hilaire Belloc, who was known for his "cautionary" poems for children. 

I would use repeated simple block chords to help set an ominous tone for this song:

Minor cadence chords

The chords are A minor, D minor over A (Dm/A), and E over G# (E/G#).  The Dm inversion is easy, but the E inversion is very hard for some kids.  That's another good reason for the repeated chords; it will take some practice to make the chords feel natural in the hand.

Because this melody ranges far, there is just a bit of complicated fingering... not really too much.  Though the finger replacement 4 - 1 that happens 3 times LOOKS hard, kids get used to it quickly and actually like it.

Here is a much harder arrangement of the same song:

The Vulture, a poem by Hilaire Belloc, set to music

Download "The Vulture" in Cm for late elementary / early intermediate piano

The first week or two we treat this quirky song like a duet.  It's the chord practice that I am after; the melody and the lyrics are the "carrot" to that stick!





The Adventures of Tonsta, Volume 1, is a book about a young boy travelling over mountains and fjords from village to village, encountering trolls and helping folk in distress.

The Adventures of Tonsta

A perfect read aloud storybook
for little boys or girls. 

The Adventures of Tonsta highlight the travels of a very young boy with a good heart, who goes about helping folk in trouble.  

With a red cap on his head and a sack of tools slung over his shoulder, Tonsta seems to meet people in distress wherever he goes.

Lots of trolls in this book.

Available at Amazon!





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