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Learn Piano Chords &
The Basics of Chord Piano

If you learn piano chords you have found an easy and quick way to play. Read more about chords and how you can use them when learning to play the piano!

Why Learn Chords?

When you learn chords you learn one of the most important elements of music; Harmony. Harmony is created when two or more notes are played at the same time.

If you can read music notes already, learning more about chords and chord progressions will help you to understand better how a composition is structured.

Knowing chords will help you learning new pieces; and it will even make it easier to memorize them later.

If you are just starting to learn the piano, you could even start to learn piano chords by ear or with some easy lead sheets, and then continue learning to read music notes.

The knowledge about chords and how the different patterns look at the piano will help you as you learn to read notes.

But, note readers or not- playing chords is simply fun and easy to do!

Start to Learn Piano Chords

Before you begin:

  • Start by learning names of the notes on the piano keys:
  • Next, learn how a basic chord is built in "root position". For example a C major chord (triad):

How to Play Major and Minor Chords

Here is a good lesson on how to play major and minor piano chords or triads from Learn and Master Piano:

Now you know how to play a major and a minor chord! And you are already ready to play chord piano by either:

  1. Learning to play from a lead sheet.
  2. Play chords by making up your own that fit the melody.

Of course, as you play chord piano you will probably do a little bit of both. Keep reading as I will show you how.

Playing Chords with a Lead Sheet

Lead Sheet ExampleCourtesy of Wikicommons

A lead sheet is sheet music with only lyrics and chord symbols, or as above; the melody of the song plus lyrics and chord symbols

There is no written accompaniment; this is what you have to "make up" on your own with the chords given.

Print out a free piano chord chart here.

Fake and Real Books

This way of playing got nick-named “faking” an accompaniment, and gave rise to so called "Fake Books".

Fake Books are collections of music, melody, lyrics and chord symbols now available in many different styles and genres.

Very famous are also the “The Real Books”, (love the name!). Most known for being a collection of Jazz standards, there are now many, many different books and styles in the "Real Book" collection.

There are also great Fake ( or Real ) books for beginners!

If you are just starting out to learn piano chords, I recommend that you get for example The Easy Fake Book (Amazon).

Tune up your singing voice and accompany yourself with simple, easy chords- and you’ll be the star of the party in no time!

Making Up Your Own Chords

Play piano by ear is what you do when you pick out music you’ve heard without the help of sheet music.

You can do the same with chords. Play a melody you have picked out, and with the left hand you try different chord combinations that fit to the melody. 

There is no right or wrong way to learn this, and trial and error will also improve your aural skills (!), so don’t fear mistakes. It will also help to learn a bit about chord theory and how to read chord symbols.

Chord Progressions

Combining different chords together is called chord progressions. Chord progressions are a particular set of chords played in a sequence. This gives you the sound or style of the music, almost by itself.

Chord Inversions

To make it easier to move from one chord to the next, you use chord inversions. This means that you rearrange the notes of a chord in a different order. This makes it easier to move from one chord to the next, and much smoother to play.


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