"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 odd (to non-natives) lyrics. ?
Jumbuck? Billabong? What in the world!
And here is a closeup of that page:
If playing this song on the piano, the smoothest fingering I have found for the right hand in Waltzing Matilda for beginners is to start with finger five, the pinky finger, OR FINGER THREE, and cross over. I'm sure your student will make that decision!
But the really tricky part:
At measure 3, thumb goes on the first note (in the close-up above, that is an "A"). Then, lift the thumb off and place it on the very 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, but if you wish for much greater detail on the piano fingering, check out this page with several beginner versions of this song.
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 - initially - with simple strumming.
It is therefore not just a really beautiful song, but a good chord training song, both for pianists and for guitar players. What chords go together?
Eventually, you want the answer to this question to be second nature for your musical students.
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 the rhythm and chord changes well in hand, 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:
I would treat this left hand part as a duet at first, because the chord inversions may not be intuitive for your piano students unless they have mastered their scales and chords with inversions.
Help them to SEE those slash chords, and try to figure out where the ROOT of the chord is. (Hint: it is always up at the top of the interval of a 4th.)
I know your students -- vocal, piano, and guitar -- will love this free popular sheet music!
The lead sheet links:
The guitar tab links:
Thank you so much for this website, I have found just about everything that I need in music.
A thousand thanks for your beginning piano and guitar songs.
What a fabulous website! I've been a keen amateur piano player since I first learnt 56 years ago at the age of 8.
I now have a three year old granddaughter and am hoping fervently that she'll want to learn - at which point I'll teach her. This is just the kind of resource I'll need to make it comprehensible. Thank you very much.