Is It Necessary to Learn Piano Chords?

by Marlene
(South Africa)

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

Maria’s answer:

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 Easy Classical Fake Book: Melody, Lyrics & Simplified Chords in the Key of "C"

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 also recommend this book as a help to get started on how to play piano chords:
How to Play from a Fake Book (Keyboard Edition)

Happy Practicing!

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