Star of the County Down beginner piano music, comes with fun ideas for using piano chords. For solo and piano duet -- (see the bottom of the page)!
Some songs spread like wild-fire through a music studio, and this is one of those pieces! It began with some local fiddlers playing it at a few recitals about town, then I wrote it up for my pianists in several versions, and now it just won't go away. I even had a student -- a boy -- choose it over BATMAN! Listen to the Orthodox Celts' version of this song - it will win your heart! (Sorry if there is an ad first... it is TOTALLY worth the wait. Queue this up for your students!)
It looks very simple, but after kids have learned the melody of Star of the County Down, we don't leave it there. It becomes a duet.
The melody or Primo part must be played UP an octave. I pencil in the chord symbols --Am, C, G-- (see the graphic below) above the melody, and tell them to play open chords on beat 1 of each measure. Like directing traffic, I play the melody with my right hand and conduct their chords with my left hand.
Beginner piano sheet music with chord symbols
Then I tell them to play TWO chords per measure. That's even more fun. More energy. See the example below of what it would look like, IF I were to notate it for them:
Then I say, "Okay, now we're going to play chords with both hands--Left, Right, Left, Right." This is REALLY fun. See the bottom line, below:
All of these changes are notated for them with only slash marks and the letters "L R L R" for left and right hands. Now and then a very careful student (generally a teenager) will want me to write out an example of the first few chords, and then they're happy. Younger kids will plunge right in, although they may also forget how to do it the first week at home!
That is plenty for one, two, or even several lessons. I wait until they are comfortable and able to keep the tempo up, then I say, "Now I want you to make an introduction for the song! Here's how..." and I instruct them to play those same Am and G chords in a rhythmic pattern that makes a singer, or piano duet partner, want to jump in and START!
This is an important skill to learn, this sense of musical impetus or urgency, and any musician who plays in a group needs to figure out how to make it happen. In music where players begin simultaneously, many musicians evolve into using just a simple "sniff" or lift of the head or even facial muscles... Pianists, who tend to play intros into which they must "invite" other musicians to join them, have to work at their introductions.
Here's what I tell them..."Left, right-right, left, right, left, RIGHT, RIGHT." And here is what it looks like in standard notation, if I were to write it out for them...
Now here is the Star of the County Down beginner duet version, with a Primo and Secondo, using 4/4 time:
Three of my young students put together a version of Star of the County Down for a state of Alaska technology-in-the-schools contest. They called their new version of the song, with its new words, Star of the Slippery Dock, and made a video of it.
Although in my opinion they should have spent MUCH more time rehearsing (!!!) they still won first place in their category, and garnered several prizes for their classroom, including $500.00! I tell you this not to boast of their musical prowess (I had no hand in it), but to attest to the drawing power of this song!