LESSON PLAN: 1, 4, b7, 4 Progression with A, D, and E


Students will be able to use the E, A, and D chords to play a 1, 4, b7, 4 (I IV HVII IV) chord progression enabling them to play and recognize this in dozens of songs.

Fig AResources

Handouts for the E, A, and D chords, handout for chords in the key of E, 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 RobinsonFig B and the Miracles.


  1. Practice being able to play and switch between the E, A, and D chords. Students who are new to doing this may want to strum only on the first beat of each chord and spend the other counts getting the hand into the next position, while more experienced students can maintain a strum pattern while switching chords.
  2. Play the E, A, and D progression to all of the songsFig C listed above. Since the chord progression is the same, what makes each song sound different is the melody and rhythm.


Discuss chord progressions as numbers related to the key you are in. This chord progression is typically called a “1 4 b7 4” (I IV HVII IV) 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’ (I IV HVII IV) progression in the key of G? How about in the key of D?”
Fig C

National Core Arts Standards (Music)

Anchor Standard 4: Select, analyze, and interpret artistic work for presentation. 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. (applies 1-5) Example: General Music MU:Pr.4.2.2 b. When analyzing selected music, read and perform rhythmic and melodic patterns using iconic or standard notation. (applies 1-4) Anchor Standard 6: Convey Meaning through the presentation of artistic work. Example: General Music MU:Pr6.1.2 a. Perform music for a specific purpose with expression and technical accuracy. (applies PK-7) Anchor Standard 7: Perceive and analyze artistic work. Example: Music Traditional and Emerging Ensembles MU:Re7.2.E.5a (Novice) Identify how knowledge of context and the use of repetition, similarities, and contrasts inform the response to music.Common Core Correlation: CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.5.2.C Link ideas within and across categories of information using words, phrases, and clauses (e.g., in contrast, especially).