Traditional sheet music is great, but lead sheets (which are mostly for jazz and pop songs) are a great resource that is often overlooked in traditional piano lessons.
I’ve been introducing lead sheets to lessons recently as a great break from normal studies and they always go down a treat. It’s such a fun departure for students that have been studying for a while.
What is a lead sheet?
Unlike traditional sheet music on a lead sheet only the melody is written out fully, the harmony will be only indicated by chord names. So the right hand follows the melody line while the left hand accompanies it with chord, whichever way you choose to play them.
Lead sheets for a lot of traditional music are available for free online, since they are out of copyright. Let’s use the first line of Jingle Bells as an example here.
The chord indicated for the whole first line is G major. Here’s just a couple of ways of playing G major chord:
You can use any combination of g, b and d to give you a full G major sound. Or you could walk the bass like this
This is just a couple of examples to give you an idea of what you could do with a chord, but that’s the fantastic part about lead sheets, you can do whatever you want, whatever you think sounds good, so just have fun with it. 🙂
Once your students have gotten started with lead sheets, they can start improvising. Read more about how to teach improvising here.