Ukulele Video Lesson - Teach Your Children

The song on this ukulele video lesson, Teach Your Children, is a 1970s song by Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. It was recorded on the album Deja Vu and has become one of their signature songs over the years. The song eventually made it to number 16 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts and was used in a film, Melody, released in 1971.

There are several different origin stories for the song, detailed below, but, from a musical standpoint, it is a fine country-rock selection to learn on the ukulele.

History about this ukulele video lesson

There are multiple stories about the history of this song. One of them is that the song was written by Graham Nash and told the story of his difficulties getting along with his father. His father had served time in prison. The lyrics, however, don’t really seem to indicate this, and there are other stories, as well.

The other common story is that Graham Nash had a photograph of a child holding a hand grenade – a toy, of course – in Central Park with a hostile look on his face. This, according to this alternate version of the origin of the song, is what inspired Graham Nash to write the song.

Neil Young did perform on the album on which Teach Your Children appears, but he does not actually appear on this particular song. The song would eventually become very popular, being used in everything from political ads to parodies and is one of the most distinctive songs by this particular group.

No matter where the song came from, it is one of the most well known country rock songs from the era, which really was around the time that country rock itself peaked. Remember to infuse that flavor into the song when you play it and pay particular attention to the lush, smooth sounds of the guitars and the song, as they do provide the canvas on which the melody is created.

Playing the song

Teach Your Children is carried mainly by the vocal harmony, having a relatively standard country rock rhythm underneath it. The chord changes, strumming and bass line are all very accessible, and the song should be a realistic choice for players of most any level.

The chords used in this song is D, G, D, and A7. It's used thru out most of the song. Bm is also used twice in this song.

The strumming style invokes the somewhat galloping feel of country music, though it is quite laid-back and the song is done at a gentle, slow tempo, almost having a lullaby type quality to it. The bass plays a standard country risk, consisting principally of two notes that shift with every chord change with slight ornamentation on those changes.

This song is really all about the vocal melody, so it’s important for the instrumentalist to lay back and let the vocal parts carry the song. The hooks, transitions and other elements of the song all essentially depend upon the vocals to carry them. However, learning this song and, importantly, learning to play it without the vocals is an excellent way to learn how to lay down the basic structure of the song, allowing a vocal performer to carry the song from start to finish.

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