Suggested songs for kids band
February 7, 2023 1:06 PM   Subscribe

My kid and two friends, all 9, want to start a band. There are two (rhythm) guitarists, and one pianist/keyboard player, and of course three singers. what are some easy songs they can play -- probably 50s-80s pop/rock.

Parents have enough skill to tease out what each person can do, like a simple bass line vs chords vs singing, starting from the sheet music.

What won't work is complicated melody lines, especially if there are several going on at the same time. occasional riffs might be better. Also, a variety of quickly changing chords will be difficult, but two or three repeated chords would work.

My kid likes the Beatles, but a lot of those songs seem too hard. Any suggestions?

For some reason I thought of CCR, and indeed, there often isn't a lot of melody / movement in the instruments, though I shudder to think of them trying to imitate John Fogerty's overdone Bayou accent.

posted by melamakarona to Media & Arts (21 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I can't find a great single link, but there are lots of lists online from the Rock Band/Guitar Hero rhythm games. You can pick nits with whether songs are harder/easier than the difficulty that the games assigned them, but that might be a start.
posted by adekllny at 1:12 PM on February 7

Shine Like Rainbows.
posted by SPrintF at 1:18 PM on February 7

Talking Heads - Stay Up Late (fun song for kids, pretty easy chords)
Neil Young - Heart of Gold
U2 - With or Without You (four chords and an easy bass line)
Ramones - Blitzkrieg Bop (a classic. They don't have to play it that fast)
posted by bondcliff at 1:22 PM on February 7 [1 favorite]

Guitar tab websites can filter for experience level.
Ultimate Guitar

I wonder if you could find an early Beatles song that beginners could learn.
posted by bitslayer at 1:28 PM on February 7

Best answer: Act Naturally works for that (although it's really Buck Owens'). Chords here.
posted by Rash at 1:37 PM on February 7 [1 favorite]

My vote is let them create their own songs. What they come up with will probably be better than 90% of music currently out there, and they'll have way more fun and less frustration than learning someone else's song, particularly songs picked by boring old adults!
posted by tiny frying pan at 1:59 PM on February 7 [2 favorites]

Best answer: We Got the Beat.
posted by Lyn Never at 2:14 PM on February 7 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I also vote they create their own songs, or at least learn to play ones they specifically like, not ones I like. Not because theirs will be better, but because that's why you learn to play in the first place - to express your own taste.

But the ask is for '60s rock songs that are not too difficult to play:

Catch Us If You Can - Dave Clark 5

Psychotic Reaction - The Count 5

Satisfaction - The Rolling Stones

Wild Thing - The Troggs

Louie Louie - The Kingsmen

Paperback Writer - The Beatles it's only 2 chords and the riff is just a basic thing in G -barre shape

Surfing USA The Beach Boys

Eagles - Take it Easy
posted by The_Vegetables at 2:36 PM on February 7 [1 favorite]

Best answer: If they are ok with it, steer toward folk. Pete Seeger or Peter Paul & Mary.

Or other folk traditions, like Irish or wherever. The point is folk music at its core is a tradition of being playable by lots of people.

If they want more rock, send them into punk or pop punk. Again, the DIY ethic is about keeping it relatively simple and playable. Green Day and Blink 182 are very approachable from a performance perspective. But the more rock you go, the more you want/need a drummer, or a drum machine and a decent programmer.
posted by SaltySalticid at 2:44 PM on February 7 [1 favorite]

When my brother was about 8 and I was about 10 we had a band with some kids from our neighbourhood aged from about 7 to 11. My father was a part time musician but his day job kept him from coming home before about 7 or 7:30 most weekdays. As his band practiced in our basement on the weekends all the equipment was stored in the house and so we had a Window of Opportunity on school days to set everything up, play for a couple of hours, and put everything back before he got home. This went on for a few years. My father never did find out about this.

We didn't do other people's songs, we just made things up on the spot, which is what I would advise! Eventually a few things became 'standards'. Most of the people involved didn't know how to play anything anyway! So I'd definitely encourage them to just play and see what happens. In a lifetime of music making I think these early experiences were the most enjoyable I've had and basically gave me a crash course in improvisation that I wouldn't have had otherwise, even if the results were a bit silly.
posted by remembrancer at 2:56 PM on February 7 [2 favorites]

Have them make a list of songs *they* want to play. Then figure out which songs would be easiest to arrange. Playing the music you love is the best & most motivating part of being in a band!
posted by gnutron at 3:31 PM on February 7 [1 favorite]

Best answer: "The Word" is a pretty easy Beatles song.

They could do an alternate tuning like drop-D to make it easier to finger chords.
posted by credulous at 3:35 PM on February 7

Best answer: "Wild mountain honey" by the Steve Miller band, "Connected" by Stereo MCs (both have one chord).

"I ran" by A Flock of Seagulls.
posted by 4midori at 3:38 PM on February 7

Best answer: My kid likes the Beatles, but a lot of those songs seem too hard. Any suggestions?

A ton of early rock and roll, stuff from the 50's like Elvis, Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard, Buddy Holly - is just 3 or 4 chords in a simple very repetitive pattern, and The Beatles played a ton of those tunes as a working dance band in their early days in Liverpool and Hamburg. They recorded some of it, too - for example, Rock and Roll Music, or Twist and Shout. And they wrote some in the same vein, like I Saw Her Standing There.

Basically, take a look at The Beatles' first four albums. Even if they didn't write the songs, there's some "Beatles" songs that don't rely on complicated vocal harmonies or chord progressions or complex sounds.

(Source: in the distant past I was a Beatles-obsessed 12 year old who started a band with his buddies and we quickly discovered that even if "I Want To Hold Your Hand" was a bit beyond our skill level, we could pull off passable versions of "Roll Over Beethoven" and such.)
posted by soundguy99 at 4:09 PM on February 7 [4 favorites]

Best answer: Sorry if this is a patronizing question, but do they actually know how to play instruments? Because if the drummer can’t keep a beat and the guitarist is slow changing chords, even a song like Blitzkrieg Bop is going to be tricky. I think a lot of people are recommend “writing” their own songs for the fun/creativity aspect, but I think it’d a good idea because it helps you understand your instrument. Just have the kids play some simple poker chords over a backbeat and figure out for themselves what sounds good. Speaking from experience, they’ll figure out Blitzkrieg Bop (assuming they’ve heard the song before, which… they should have) in like a half hour, and it’ll feel like an accomplishment rather than just reading off a page of sheet music.
posted by kevinbelt at 4:18 PM on February 7 [2 favorites]

I recommend they write their own songs because:

It's way more fun, especially at that age, than trying to learn material you may or may not be interested in long term

It helps you learn your instrument and allows for easy swapping of instruments among band members, which is fine!

It creates huge learning opportunities for improvisation, which is more important and better for your music brain than memorization

It removes any expectations of "how a band should be" or "what kind of band are we" which can be so so awful, especially so young

Mostly, I'm motivated by encouraging younger folks to explore music with fewer rules. I hope they have fun!
posted by tiny frying pan at 4:24 PM on February 7 [2 favorites]

every ccr
every eagles
any 12 bar blues
posted by j_curiouser at 5:23 PM on February 7

Let them write their own songs! They can be like The Shaggs!
posted by donut_princess at 6:06 PM on February 7 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Down tempo, like Hey Jude, is easier than up tempo.
PP&M did Puff The Magic Dragon for kids and with kids.
posted by SemiSalt at 5:23 AM on February 8

Response by poster: Thanks for all the great suggestions. To answer a question above, they are not great at the instruments, so some of these will be too hard, but hopefully with others they can rock out a bit.

Now, of course, just like I mentioned in the original question, I will see which songs I like best and force the kids to play those songs and nothing else. Under no circumstances will they be allowed to come up with their own songs. :)
posted by melamakarona at 8:37 AM on February 8 [1 favorite]

There's a Beatles 3-4 Chord Songs book, and they helpfully list the songs - Octopus's Garden and I've Just Seen a Face might be fun.
posted by kristi at 8:36 PM on February 9

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