I only now discovered your website. I am 59 and like to improve my piano playing skills. Want to know - is it really necessary to learn chords? Thanks. Marlene
I guess you mean to play chords as an accompaniment, or the art of “comping” as it is also called. No, many otherwise skilled pianists do not know how to play by reading chords from a lead sheet.
So, if you are really not interested to learn to play chords and/or your time is limited – of course you don’t have to!
But – since you are asking me ; ) – why not? It is very easy to learn, and you get a better understanding of any style of music by understanding some of the underlying chords, or harmonies in the music you play.
It is enriching. It is also fun to play along with songs and to read music (chords and melody) very easily. You are not limited to one style of music either, there are even classical “Fake books” available. Check these out for example:
The Classical Fake Book: Over 600 Classical Themes and Melodies in Their Original Keys
The Bach Fake Book (Fake Books)
So finally, learning how to play chords is not necessary, but it does make you a more “well-rounded” pianist!
I can recommend this book to help anyone to get started on how to play chords:
How to Play from a Fake Book (Keyboard Edition)