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Safe and Sound, Same Love, Gone Gone Gone (For You), Royals

More ideas for Middle School music using popular songs.

Capital Cities "Safe and Sound" 

This is such a favorite of mine. The video is surreal, the singers look like ordinary guys (who could play with the Red Sox with those beards!) and it's so teachable.

This is a fantastic piece for teaching high E as well as the D'-E' fingering. It's addictive!

(') denotes higher octave of the note.

E' A B C' D' E' G G B C' D'
E' A B C' D' E' G G G' F' E'

D' E' E' E' (play rest, 4 sixteenths as an ostinato) This ostinato happens much of the time the hook is not being used.


Awesome for beginners. Have students anchor their first finger to first fret, second string. The chords are F, C, Am, G. Use simple versions of these chords and have the students play the progression just lifting their first finger and placing their third on the E string for the G chord. So easy and so fun!

Macklemore "Same Love"

A teacher was suspended for showing this video in her class. I'm sure some might have had other disciplinary action against them. If you've ever lost a student or other loved one to suicide from despair over homosexuality, you might feel compelled to sing this song. Even if you have just seen suffering over the issue, it may be tugging at you. You must CLEAR WITH THE ADMINISTRATION.

It might mean sending home permission slips etc. Kids love controversy, they'll love the song for that alone, but this song is actually pretty good. The rap is great. The chorus is great. The school band can help with the instrumental parts.

The chords are fine as power chords, but the full chords require lots of barring.

Philip Philips "Gone Gone Gone"

This sweet, nostalgic song is a pleasure to sing. The chords are relatively easy, especially if you'd like to work out the right hand work.

This speaks to the male's deep seeded protection instinct and, as my husband points out time and again, their inherent romanticism. I love the sound of the voice in this song. I love the sentiment.

Drums: Listen to the background rhythm. That can easily be done on congas or even desktops.  It's almost identical to the beginning of Hogan's Heroes. In fact, you could use that rhythm if you like.

Lorde "Royals" 

A request from two of my coolest middle school girls. They even sang it, in harmony, at lunch!  It's a very simple background beat. You can do it with a bass guitar and some body percussion. There are chords listed, but it's more like drones or pedals than chords.


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