Teddy Thompson – In My Arms

This week one of the songs that I’ve taught was new to me and I thought I’d use it as an example of how I write out material for students. There are lots of ways to write out a song:

  • simple chord chart with bars
  • lyrics with chords above them
  • in proper notated music!

There are pros and cons for each option depending on the ability of the learner. The first two options are simple, but often give no indicated of the strumming pattern or how long to stay on each chord. This will therefore only work if you know the song well. Whilst making learning accessible is important, I also think many guitarists miss out key learning like how to read  basic rhythms and rests. I therefore opt to write out lesson materials in standard notation and tab. Early on I like to introduce the different rhythms and then gradually build on this with things like ties, rests and articulations. Also, if students want to read notation and ditch the tab, that is also something I teach and particularly useful if you want to play styles like jazz where lead sheets are very common.

Anyway, enough of this, here is a pdf of Teddy Thompson’s delightful tune ‘In My Arms’. It has a fairly basic set of chords, but watch out for the single note fills. It’s best to isolate these parts and develop the speed gradually.

In My Arms

Capo on the 2nd fret!


Book Review: The Jazz Standards

A few months ago I stumbled across a review for a book that provided background information to a wealth of jazz standards. Written by Ted Gioia and published by Oxford University Press – I had high hopes for this book and I’ve not been disappointed.

Finding out information behind jazz compositions can be hard sometimes. There is often confusion over who wrote a piece e.g. Miles Davis’ claim to have written ‘Donna Lee’ and ‘Caravan’ being mistaken as a Duke Ellington composition. The book looks at this type of background information for 250 jazz standards. Background is often linked to the songs meaning, key versions and how the song developed through performance and recording. My main  reason for buying it was to look at gaps in my own repertoire and to have more knowledge about the tunes that I perform. Little facts that Ted has included will certainly prove useful when talking to audiences at gigs! A good example is the background to ‘Stompin’ at the Savoy’. The song about a dance-hall in New York that was so popular they had to replace the floor every three years.

So far I’ve found the book to be a good starting point when learning a new song. The recommended listening is very helpful and good way to familiarize yourself with the changes. The only improvement I would make is perhaps having the changes and melody for reference. This isn’t a book you will pick up and read in one go, but more of a reference book. There is very little harmonic analysis, which is a shame, as this book is more like a biography of each tune. Gioia shows the reader how a song has developed, with the original composer having no control over how their tune is re-worked. I think musicians and fans alike would appreciate this book, it’s well researched and I’m sure it will be a regular point of reference for me.