Here’s a very crazy chord game that kids love, and reinforces their knowledge of the six basic chords.
First you have to teach the kids the C F G and D E A chords. For younger kids, C F and G will do.
I should point out that I allow the kids to use two note chords (the bottom two notes of the three note chord) with their strongest fingers, the 2nd (index) and third (middle.)
I adopt the manner of a pompous, stentorian orator who appears and challenges them to a race.
I call myself Gortok or Chordomatic (make up some space name that sounds funny) and boastingly declare that I am unbeatable in my ability to find chords quickly. I laugh and beat my chest with pride at my inevitable victory. Poor child, up against an unbeatable machine.
Eventually, The Chord Machine Always Loses
Gortok wins the first round and deeply gloats in his victory.
But suddenly, in the second round, Gortok loses and is greatly disturbed by his loss (yes, I let the kid win.) But the child is delighted to win and wants more. So choose another chord.
Variations are when Gortok gives the kid a head start by starting further away, across the room. You have no idea how happy it makes kids to see Gortok lose in his mock gloom.
I don’t restrict the fingering, or whether it is a two or three note chord. All that matters is speed, and that the child wins.
As a footnote, I usually have kids finger three note chords with their first three fingers, rather than the standard 1-3-5, because 1-2-3 are their strongest fingers.
But the vast majority of kids are only comfortable with two notes.
I generally make a dive-bombing sound, which the kids love, but it always must be followed by Gortok’s complete surprise and disappointment in losing.
The child will have no problem with C F and G chords, but as soon as you introduce D E and A you have black notes, and kids are much less secure with these. So Gortok may have to give a little hint or advice until the child gains facility with chords that include a black note.
Once you have played this a while, try making the chords into pairs, and race them with that.
I play C G C, and then demand they do the same.
Then C F C, and finally F G F.
Show fast you can do it, and challenge them to do the same.
Don’t forget that chords are the basis of all musical construction, and that a command of chords will give a child command of the piano.
Copyright 2008 Walden Pond Press