Introduction to Instrumental Performance

This week is all about picking an instrument and playing around with it. And of course, you can continue to improve your skills on that instrument after this week (and class!) is over. I suggest spending the first half of the week practicing technique, and the second half playing songs. Pick and (easy) song that you like, and see how much of it you're able to learn!


There are additional instructional videos for piano under the "Recommended Readings & Resources" tab on this site.

In this video, I show you the very basics of playing the piano. Feel free to skip around, and don't feel obligated to try to master each skill. Maybe you'll choose to focus on some of the major scales or only the chord progressions, for example. Below are time stamps for each part of the video.

0:00 - 1:33: piano posture & finger numbers

1:33 - 11:29: major scales

11:30 - 24:05: learning "German Dance" (Beethoven) one section                          at a time

24:05 - 25:35: demonstration of "German Dance"

25:35 - 30:53: major & minor triads (chords)

30:53 - end: keyboard progression (inversions)

Once you've gotten a handle on some of these skills, go ahead and start playing music! In the Google Drive under the "Piano Performance" folder, in addition to study materials there is a pdf full of short, beginning piano pieces. I have also posted some sheet music to popular & jazz songs. Or, you can look up the chords to any song that you wish to play and simply practice playing songs that way. Whatever you choose to do, remember to have fun and not rush! You can always come back to this later.

Guitar & Ukulele:

The absolute basics

Brian, here (below left), explains the basics of guitar technique perfectly, from how to hold your guitar, all the string names, and how to read chord diagrams. By the end of this video you will understand how to read and play chords, and from there (with practice, of course) you will be able to play any song you want!

Sometimes in your chord charts you will come across barre chords (chords in which you have to hold all the strings down with one finger while you use your other fingers to make the chord shape). These can be difficult at first, but this video shows some ways to make it easier.

A video similar to the one above for guitar, but for ukulele

Recommended Tutorials:

Below are some tutorials of how to play popular songs that I have chosen based on the skill they develop.

Note that some of these songs will require you to use a capo (this clips onto the fretboard to change the key of a song). Capos can be purchased for less than $10 on Amazon / at any music store and will vastly increase the number of songs you're able to play!

This one is good for learning finger picking skills & patterns. Marty's channel has plenty of great tutorials for varying skill levels, so as you improve you can challenge yourself with tougher songs.

Teaches chords & strumming pattern

This tutorial is a bit more advanced, as he shows you how to play the bassline as well. If that proves too difficult, omit those bassline notes and focus on the simple chords and strumming pattern, which he does a good job of demonstrating.


Below I have included some drum / percussion tutorials if you're interested. You don't need to work with a whole drum kit -- you may use a single snare, a bongo drum, or your pots and pans. If you don't have drums at all but want to focus on percussion, these videos can still help. With a basic understanding of drum playing, it will be easier for you to create drum grooves using virtual instruments, for example, so this is another option you may want to work with this week. Focus on strengthening your rhythm skills (revisiting some of the music theory material will help) and experimenting with different percussion beats & rhythms.

Two videos below by the same guy. First shows you quickly how to use the virtual drum sets on Garage band, and the second goes more in depth into recording.

This one's a great first song for beginners