8 Ways to Simplify Rock Tunes for Your Students

Making rock music sound authentic with your student rock group can be difficult, but it doesn’t have to be. Here are some ways to simplify your rock tunes for your kids while still keeping the integrity of the song and the sound intact:

Making rock music sound authentic with your student rock group can be difficult, but it doesn't have to be. Here are some ways to simplify your rock tunes for your kids while still keeping the integrity of the song and sound intact

8 Ways to Simplify Rock Tunes for Your Students


  1. Use simple versions of the main open chords for guitar. Don’t use all six strings if you don’t have to. Use the three smallest strings and one and sometimes no fingers to make the same chords. For example, C and Em can be simplified with this chart: Easy C and Em

  2. Simplify power chords by playing them with one finger. Power chords are moveable chords that consist of a root and a fifth.  It will still sound like the same song if you just use the root pitches.

  3. Can’t play barre chords? It’s okay, just use power chords instead. If a song has a barre chord or two in its progression, using a power chord instead is a good substitute. This works well for key changes in the middle of your song that requires  the use of almost all barre chords.

  4. Use a basic rock pattern if your drummers are beginners and are unable to play the complex bass drum patterns.

  5. Use diads on the piano/keyboard parts if your players have small hands or are having trouble with triads. Diads are the stepping stones to being able to play triads.

  6. Transpose to an easier key as long as you aren’t transposing more than a step.  Singers occasionally need a song transposed up especially if your singers are young. Capos for guitars can easily transpose your tunes up by a step or more. Transpose buttons on most keyboards/electronic pianos are helpful in this regard as well.

  7. Song you are learning has the guitars down-tuned? Transpose the song file up using Audacity.

  8. Complex bass line? Have your bass player play the root pitches. Or, have the keyboard player do it on a bass setting in their left hand.

There are other ways to simplify music that are specific to the song being played. If you have a question about how to simplify a particular bit in a song for your rockers, post it here. If I don’t know, I will find out for you!

Also, if you are new to teaching rock music, have some experience, or lots but are not sure where to go, check out my new book called “Rock Coach: A Practical Guide for Teaching Rock Bands in Schools.” I am also available for teacher and student workshops on creativity and teaching rock bands.

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