LESSON PLAN: 1, 4, b7, 4 ( I IV HVII IV) Progression with A, D, & E


Students will be able to use the E, A, and D chords to play a 1, 4, H7, 4 ( I IV HVII IV) chord progression enabling them to play and recognize this in dozens of songs.


Major Chord Jam Card 1a, Scale Chords Jam Card 6b, song charts and lyrics for “Let’s Go Crazy” by Prince, “ROCK in the USA” by John Cougar Mellencamp, “What I Like About You” by The Romantics, and “The Tears of a Clown” by Smokey Robinson and the Miracles.


  1. Use the MajorFig A Chord Jam Card to form the E, A, and D chords. Notice that each chord has a black key in the middle. Practice switching between these chords to prepare for using them in songs.
  2. Play the E, A, and D progression to all of the songsFig B listed above. Students who are new to doing this may want to play only on the first beat of each chord and spend the other counts getting the hands into the next position, while more experienced students can maintain playing the comping pattern while switching chords. Since the chord progressions are the same, what makes them different is the melody and use of rhythm.


  1. The chords are represented in “root position” which makes playing a 2 handed comping pattern a lot easier. This also helps train the ear to hear the movement of the chords and makesFig C understanding chords a lot easier. After a student is familiar with using root position chords to play this progression, try using Jam Card 7b which puts some of the chords in other shapes (called inversions) that are easy to reach without having to move the hand. Because of the atypical b7 chord, place the start arrow on A instead of E to reach all of the chords using inversions.
  2. Discuss chord progressions as numbers related to the key you are in. This chord progression is typically called a “1 4 b7 4” progression by musicians because E is the 1st chord in the key, A is the 4th, and D is the b7th (D# is the normal 7th in the key of E making the D chord a “rule breaker”). Ask students to use the musical alphabet and name these chords in different keys. “What chords would make a ‘1 4 b7 4’ progression in the key of G? How about in the key of D?”

National Core Arts Standards (Music)

Anchor Standard 4: Select, analyze, and interpret artistic work for presentation. Example: General Music MU:Pr4.2.4 b. When analyzing selected music, read and perform using iconic and/or standard notation. Example: General Music MU:Pr4.2.5 a. Demonstrate understanding of the structure and the elements of music (such as rhythm, pitch, form, and harmony) in music selected for performance. Common Core Correlations: CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.SL.2 Integrate and evaluate information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally. CCSS.Math.Content.K.CC.B.4 Understand the relationship between numbers and quantities; connect counting to cardinality. CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.K.G.B.4 Analyze and compare two- and three-dimensional shapes, in different sizes and orientations, using informal language to describe their similarities, differences, parts (e.g., number of sides and vertices/”corners”) and other attributes (e.g., having sides of equal length). (Compare root position and inverted chord shapes)