I did not learn chords until high school. At that point I'd been playing the piano fro quite some time and was a pretty good music reader. Then in high school jazz band I was handed a piece of music that (to me) didn't look like a piece of music. It had a bunch of chords above the measure and some slashes. And I'm not exaggerating when I say that I panicked. I had no idea what to do with this. It may as well have been hieroglyphics.
Eventually I learned about chord structure, but it wasn't until much later that my panic subsided. Many years later I took some jazz improv classes and kept mostly silent. I listened and prayed no one would notice me.
Music teachers, if you're nodding your head right now you were probably classically trained like me. I'm encouraging you right now to dig into some easy chord charts. I'm giving you permission to be creative and play something your way. And I'm telling you to start giving your students the opportunity to be creative early in their musical education.
If you think you can't handle this sort of freedom, I've got you covered!
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