Popular Music Lesson

Amazing Grace , Part 1

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Hello and welcome. I'm Joseph Hoffman and
today we're going to learn how to play
one of the world's most beloved
traditional Christian hymns, Amazing
Grace. This video tutorial is my super
easy, what I call, "preparatory level"
tutorial which means even if you're an
absolute beginner with just a few months'
experience or even no experience at all,
I will guide you step by step to be able
to play this song. If you're looking for
a more advanced tutorial where I show
you how to play not just the melody but
also chords and accompaniment, please
check out my level 2 or level 4 Amazing
Grace piano tutorials. Alright, let's come
to the piano to get started. So first off
let's find our position on the piano.
Here's my middle C. So, go ahead and find
your middle C on your piano. Our left
hand is only going to need to worry
about these two notes. This note is G,
this one's A and I'd like you to use
fingers two and three. Remember finger one
is your thumb, so fingers two and three
on A and G. Go ahead and get your left
hand in position there. Your right hand
only needs to worry about these four
blue notes, and you'll use fingers one,
two, three, and five on C, D, E, and G. So go
ahead and make sure your hands are in
this position, and let's go ahead and get
started with the first two notes. You'll
see the first note down here in the bass
clef which is G, so use finger three of
your left hand. Play that G and then we
come up to the right hand finger one on
Okay now you try. Now you'll notice the
next two notes are both for the right
hand, and we have an E with finger three
and then a C for "amazing." Now you try.
Good, now let's add one more note after
"-zing" then it comes back to E for "grace."
So all together we have C, notice it just
kind of rocks back and forth between C
and E, now you try. Good now let's pause
to notice something about music and
that's how rhythm is notated. You'll
notice this first note is filled in in
the middle, and that's called a quarter
note. It lasts just one beat. It kind of
has the sound as if you're walking:
TA, TA, TA has a nice slow and steady
And then this next note is called a half
note. It's actually twice as long as a
quarter note, so it's good to think two
beats like this. You'll go ♫ "TA, one, two."♫
You can actually think "one, two" in your
mind while you hold that, and if you
don't do, that you won't hold that note
long enough, generally. ♫ "One, two"♫ and then these
two notes that are beamed together like
that, these are called two
eighth notes and they're a little bit
faster they go about the speed of like
if you were jogging. TI-TI. Jogging, jogging,
or ♫ TI-TI.♫ So altogether we have a quarter
note, two, one two.
To play this song correctly it's very
important that you not just play the
right notes, but that you have the right
timing, so be sure to think about the
rhythm. So what I'd like you to do is
press pause and just work on this first
phrase paying attention to both the
notes and the rhythms. ♫ "TA 1-2, TI-TI, 1-2,"♫ for ♫ "Amazing grace."♫
Press pause to practice that a
little on your ow,n then press play to go
Now after "grace" on E, it steps down to
D, then down to C for ♫ "how sweet."♫ Then it
comes back to the left hand, ♫ "the sound."♫
So in letters we have ♫ "D, C, A, G." two notes for the right
hand, two notes for the left hand. Now you
try. Good now back to the beginning we
have: ♫ "Amazing grace, how sweet the sound."♫ Now, will you try putting all of
that together? Press pause to try that a
few times on your own, then press play to
go on.
Now the next phrase starts off the same
way as the first phrase. ♫ "G, C, E-C-E,"♫
and that's
for ♫ "that saved a wretch."♫ And then it's a little
different here, it steps down to D and
then skips all the way up to G with
finger five, which is your pinkie, ♫ "like me."♫
Okay so together we get (♫plays "that saved a wretch like me." ♫ )
Now, press pause and work on that phrase
on your own, then press play to go on.
Now let's notice that ♫ "me,"♫
the note we just played, actually is a new kind
of rhythm that we haven't seen yet in
this song. It's a dotted half note tied
to a half note. Dotted half note is three
beats, half note is two beats, so together
we'll hold this note down for five beats.
And again that's very important
in a little while when we play this with
an accompaniment. Or let's say you're
playing along with a singer, you'd have
to hold that note for the correct number
of beats, so you might count "one, two,
three, one, two." Or you could count "one, two,
three, four, five." Either way be sure to
hold it for five beats, and then we go on.
So here we're just going back and forth
between E and G: ♫ "E, G, E-G-E C," for ♫ "I once was
lost."♫ Just fingers three, and five, and one.
Now you try.
Good, now let's try it one more time. ♫ "I once was lost."♫ Now
you try. You might find it helpful to
actually sing along as you play. That
will help you remember the correct
rhythm, and the correct sound of the
notes. Now the next phrase is ♫ "but now"♫
we're going down to the left hand with
the ♫ "G, A."♫ Now you try. Good and then the
right hand is going to play two Cs: ♫ "(n)-ow a-am"♫ and
then it comes back to the left hand for
an ♫ "A, G"♫ for ♫ "am found."♫ So notice we have G, A in the
left hand, then two Cs, then A G comes
back down to G. ♫ "But no-ow a-am found."♫
Now you try.
Notice that on the word "now" you actually
have two notes on one syllable, but "am"
also has two notes. Okay now you can
always press pause if you need extra
time to practice something. Otherwise
let's go back and put these two phrases
together. So we have ♫ "I once was lost, but now am found." ♫
Press pause and practice putting those
two phrases together. I encourage you to
sing along as you play, and then press
play to go on.
Alright here we are at the last phrase
which it so happens has the same notes
as the first phrase. So we have ♫ "was blind but now I see."♫
Which is ♫ " G C E-C-E D C," ♫ which again
you hold for five beats, three plus two.
Okay, now you try.
Now that you know all of the phrases, go
ahead and press pause one more time to
practice putting everything together
from the start of the song all the way
to the end, and then press play when
you're ready to have me show you how you
can play "Amazing Grace" along with a
backing track. The accompaniment track
that I'd like to show you how to play
along with is available for download
from our website, so you can enjoy
playing this song along with, we've got,
violin and cello and harp and flute put
together on a track, to make this even
more beautiful. So, first you'll hear an
introduction, and you'll just wait for
that, and then you'll actually play
through this three times, like we have
three verses of the hymn. You'll play the
same thing three times, but you'll notice
the first verse starts kind of at a
medium volume, the second verse brings it
down to a very contemplative quieter
volume, and then the last verse we're
going to get more powerful with more
emotions so you can really play out on
that last verse. Okay I'll demonstrate
the whole thing. You're welcome to play
along with me, or you're welcome to just
listen here's the backing track. And
remember there's an introduction which
you can just listen to as we get ready.
♫ ♫ ♫ And here's where we start ♫ ♫ ♫
♫ ♫ ♫ ♫ ♫
So you'll notice that when you're
playing along with the accompaniment,
it's so important that you hold those
long notes, especially those notes that
last for five beats. If you're not
holding it for those five beats, you're
going to get off from the accompaniment.
So be sure inside you're counting "one,
two, three, four, five" both there in the
middle of the verse, as well as the last
note of each verse also being held for
five beats. Thank you for learning
"Amazing Grace" with me today. I hope you
find peace and joy in playing this hymn
and I hope to see you again.
"Mr. Hoffman?"
"Yes, Scuba?"
"What's a wretch?"
"Well, a wretch is someone who feels
wretched, which means they don't have any
hope they feel terrible inside."
"But why?"
"Because they feel worthless and unloved.
"But no one is worthless."
"That's right Scuba, but sometimes people
make mistakes, or certain things might
happen to them
that make them feel that way like
there's just no hope for them. But grace
is a powerful gift that can take someone
who feels wretched and hopeless and it
literally transforms them into someone
who feels great love and joy."
"Wow. So how
do you get grace?"
"Well let me tell you
the story of the man who wrote the
lyrics to Amazing Grace, and that might
help you understand."
"The man was John Newton and he was born
in London, England in the year 1725. His
mother died when he was only seven years
old, and his father who was a ship master,
took him to sea to work on voyages from
the time he was only eleven.
"Gosh, sounds like a crummy childhood."
"Well his young
adult life only got worse. Before he was
20 years old
he had been captured at sea and forced
to join the Royal Navy. When he tried to
escape, he was captured again and whipped
"Oh, no."
"Soon after that, he transferred ships
only to end up in Africa as a mistreated
and abused servant to a royal family."
"Poor guy."
"Well, fortunately John's
father, who by that time had retired from
sailing, asked a sea captain to help
search for his lost son. The sea captain
found John, rescued him, and was bringing
him home to England when a terrible
storm struck off the coast of Ireland.
John awoke in the middle of the night
and saw water rushing into his boat.
The ship was sinking and John thought he
was going to die. In that moment of
John called out in prayer to God.
According to John's own account, at that
moment the cargo in the ship shifted in
such a way to block the water from
rushing in and the ship was able to
safely make it home."
"That day marked
the beginning of John's conversion to
Christianity. From that day forward John
started reading the Bible. He stopped
drinking and gambling. Later in his life
he retired from sailing and actually
became a minister, and eventually he
worked to end the shameful slave trade
of which he himself had participated in.
"Wow, that's a big change of heart."
"It certainly is, and that is the power of
grace. John Newton certainly knew what it
felt like to be wretched
and he truly felt that it was God's
grace that had saved him and literally
brought him safely home.
Thanks for telling me that amazing story,
Mr. Hoffman.
Hey, Amazing Grace, it really is amazing!
"Yes, it is."