Frère Jacques


Frère Jacques is Lesson #8 from Book 1.

I'm working (as always) on cleaning up the mess around the website and was listing all the things you learn from this one sheet of paper and it still surprises me how far it alone will take you into being a great musician. I wrote a companion arrangement of Frère Jacques with the intention of making the song as complicated as possible and called it Frère Jacques Ennuyeuse (which means "boring" in French). You can find it in in Book 2. Sometimes advancing musicians don't look back at easier pieces and see what can be made of the old stuff, but I find it to be one of the bigger joys in music. Find something easy and fancy it up.

I have never not taught Frère Jacques to every student. It's the most important lesson. Be clear, I don't think you need to be great at this song, but I think you know how to read chord grids, standard notation, and tablature, and you'll be well on your way after you can play this one song. What's the story here? Well, Father John is asleep and the church bells are ringing. That's not good. We need to get him out of bed so he can go preach the sermon and save humanity from its ills. It's in French and English so try singing it both ways using the repeat properly. Also notice, in the lyrics, I told you which left hand finger to use. Make sure you're playing with proper thumb posture, that you've played it one note at a time by reading the tablature, and you have strummed the chord and sang the entire song. Do not play quietly. Be bold, be brave, make mistakes, do the repeats, and share this song with somebody else. When it's in pretty good shape, make a video of it on your phone, and don't look at that video for six months. I promise you'll be way better by then.

We have six expected outcomes for you to master here.

-First, and most importantly, you will learn to read tablature by plucking one note at a time.
-Second, you will learn to read a chord grid and strum the A chord (E chord for baritone)
-Third, you will learn to read first and second repeats.
-Fourth, you will play with another person who is doing the opposite way of you. That is to say, you're strumming the chord while they play the melody, or vice versa.
-Fifth, you will know the difference between an eighth note, quarter note, and half note.
-Sixth, you will memorize the melody and the chord so you can easily teach this system to the next person.

For those of you who've been around awhile:
-Can you play this without the sheet music?
-Can you make an A chord and an E chord on both ukulele and baritone (without looking it up!)?
-Can you play one way while somebody nearby plays the other way?