Accompanying yourself: it’s a giggle
Here on DoctorKeys.com, you can learn to use chords to accompany your own singing. To show you how approachable and fun this can be, here’s 8-year-old Ali to demonstrate. (I couldn’t bear to edit out the opening moments of this video, and I think you’ll understand why when you see it.)
Notice that Ali is playing a genuine accompaniment, rather than merely duplicating the melody. It’s musically effective because what she’s singing and what she’s playing are completely independent of each other.
Since her hand is still small, Ali is playing only two notes at a time in the right hand, as opposed to the 3-note chords an adult would be playing.
Besides the all-important fun/motivation factor, there are powerful reasons for learning to play and sing arrangements like these. For starters:
• They’re great for teaching chords. And when you have a handle on chords, you can memorize faster and more securely, sight-read more easily, and be more creative.
• Since Ali learned this arrangement by ear (and thus never had to read from the page), she’s been able to put all her attention on technique, rhythmic flow, and singing. (Notice how strong she is in all three areas.)
• When you sing, you develop your most important musical asset—your ear.
Teachers: don’t expect to find arrangements like this in books. But you just might begin to enjoy the process of custom-tailoring them yourself, which includes finding a key to suit your student’s vocal range, and making adjustments to the piano part based on hand size and level of ability.
Ali and her mom, by the way, are a great learning team, and you can read about that part of the story here.
[12.14.10 update: here's Ali playing and singing Imagine, with its more complex accompaniment. ]
And on this page, you can hear other examples of students playing and singing piano/vocals—some are harder, some easier.