Teaching Chord Progression

Teaching Chord Progression

Jim Sterner
[email protected]
Littlestown High School

TI:ME Technology Areas Addressed:



High School




Finale & Sibelius


40 Minutes

Prior Knowledge and Skills:

Knowledge of Scales and Circle of Fifths

MENC Standards Addressed:

MENC 4: Composing and Arranging Music within specified guidelines.


Music Software Notation ( Finale or Sibelius), manuscript (staff) paper. Computer with sound & earphone capability


Introduce Chord Progressions utilizing music writing software. Students will observe the writning of the chord structures and how they are chosen from the scale structure. Results will be assessed based on the number of students successfully accomplish the task.


With a C Major scale highlight the notes that will used for the tonic chord (C,E,G) . Identify this as a TONIC chord and indicate that it is in root position. Continue on with the notes (F,A,C) Identify this as the SUBDOMINANT chord. Next, pick out the notes (G,B,D) and indicate that this is the DOMINANT chord. The students will write out the notes in chord form on manuscript (staff) paper. Show the students where to write the Roman numerals under the appropriate chord. Explain that this is a universal format that we use in music theory to identify chord structures. Now play the progression: I-IV-V-I in the key of C Major. Now do the same procedure in the key of G Major starting with a G Major chord as I.


Check the manuscripts for accuracy and then allow students to enter using the whole notes into their computers using the Finale program. Have students then playback the progressions to hear the chords . Ask students to listen to the progressions and see if they can hear any discrepancies or similarities. Review the listening to reinforce the correct sounds that should be heard.

Follow Up:

Homework assignment will be to write out progressions in the keys of Bb, Eb, D & A on Notepad for checking. Make sure that the students show their scales with the appropriate
flats and sharps at the correct locations.

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