Easy Piano Chords for Beginners

Learn piano chords for beginners in this fun and easy piano lesson for adult beginners!

As you complete this lesson, you'll know how to actually accompany a four chord song with basic piano chords, as well as how to play a melody with a simple chord accompaniment. 


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Learn to Accompany with Piano Chords for Beginners

Let's get started playing chord piano! 

But, before we start, there are some things you need to know, though.

The pre-requisites for this lesson is that you need to know the names of the notes on the keys, how to read and play a melody in your right hand and basic triads.

If not, please check these free lessons here:

Then come back here and we'll continue! :)

Easy Piano Chords for Beginners, Step by Step

Step 1: Pick a Song

We'll start by picking a simple but well-known four chord song that has both melody and chords written in the score, like Amazing Grace, that you can download here. I will use this piece as an example throughout this lesson since it has easy piano chords for beginners.

Tip: You can find melodies and piano chords for beginners, as lead sheets online. For example here is a great resource: PianoSongDownload.com, or you can purchase my favorite chord book that I use with my students: The Easy Fake Book. Lots of fun!

Step 2: Write a Cheat Note

Next, we'll look closely at the different chord symbols written above the melody. In this example its G, D7, Em, C.

These symbols are telling us what piano chords we can use, and also what bass notes you can play. We'll actually start with playing only bass notes.

But first, write out the different chord symbols on a piece of paper.

  • Write only the different ones, for now (that's usually not so many). As I wrote above, in this piece it's only 4 chords: G, D7, Em, C.

This cheat note will help us to practice!

Step 3: Left Hand Bass Notes

Look at the capital letter for each chord symbol. This is also the bass note, so let's play that note only in the left hand.

  • Find and play the bass notes as conveniently as you can with your left hand. Play: G, D, E and C. Easy!

Important: Find a hand position that allows you to play the notes conveniently. For example, place your left hands 5th finger on C, and you'll be able to play all the notes in this 5-finger position.

Tip: For a "juicier" sound, you can double the bass by playing two of the same notes as octaves. Use fingers 1 and 5 in your left hand.

Step 4: Right Hand Chords

All done with the left? OK. Let's practice the right hand.

The chord symbols show a few things more. Here are the chords:

G

This letter says which note is the root, or the basic note where the chord is built from.

In this case, the basic root chord, also called a Triad, starts from the note G. (As this is a lesson with basic piano chords for beginners, we'll only play in this root position for now.)

If there's only one letter, the chord is a major chord. So, G major. Easy, just use white keys, G-B-D.

G major chordG Major Chord

C

The same applies to the C chord: It starts from C (in root position), and is a major chord. The notes you use are C-E-G.

C major chordC Major Chord

Em

The after E tells us to play a minor chord. E minor is played with the notes E-G-B.

E Minor ChordE Minor Chord

D7

As above, the letter says which note is the root, or the basic note, and chord. In this case, the basic root chord, starts from D.

If there's only one capital letter, the chord is a major chord. So, D major. Easy, just three keys, D-F#-A.

In this case, there is also an extra note added, a 7th. This note is counted a small 7th above the root. Here it's a C.

So the full D7 chord is: D-F#-A-C. It's a four note chord.

D7 ChordD7 Chord

When playing chord piano we have two different seventh chords.

  • The most used is the "small" 7th and it's written with chord symbols only as a 7, for example C7.
  • If the "big" 7th is used (sounds a bit "jazzier" it's written maj (major=big), for example: Cmaj7.

However, we'll not use this here since this is piano chords for beginners, but it's fun to know for later.

Enough theory already! Let's play!

  • Practice the different chords with your right hand in root position. This will be a bit "jumpy". Later you will learn how to make chord inversions to make the progression smoother, but don't worry about that now.

All set? Have you found the chords to be used? Do you know the bass notes too?

Step 5: Practice Hands Separately, Then Together

Take your cheat note that you wrote earlier with the different chords used in this song: G, D7, Em, C.

  • Practice playing the bass notes in the left hand one at a time, either as single notes or doubled in octaves together.
  • Then the right-hand chords in root position slowly.
  • Then play both hands together. Just practice the chords/bass notes and how to move your hands without effort.

Now make a new cheat note and write out all the chords from the piece in the order they are written (this is a major chord progression).

  • Practice these chord changes slowly until fluent.

Step 6: Piano Chords for Beginners: Let's Play!

Finally- get rid of the cheat note and open your sheet music!

Look at the lyrics, and see at what word each new chord needs to be played.

  • Start by playing the chords only there. Then, you can experiment to play more often, repeating the same chord until there is a new chord. Try to keep a steady rhythm.

Make sure to hum along the melody as you play! Use the pedal if you like, just remember to change it for each new chord.

Step 8: Variations

The chords can be varied. Played at the same time or played broken (one note at a time) in different patterns.

Chords can also be played anywhere on the piano, so experiment higher and lower. Usually, though, it sounds best to play the chords slightly below the range of the melody. And very simple...!

Step 9: Add the melody!

Sing or hum the melody along (just find the pitch by giving yourself the starting note of the melody).

  • Now, learn to play the melody in your right hand.
  • Next, practice to play the chords in your left hand, as you did with the right.

Remember to keep it very simple at first, just plain chords. (The bass you played before in your left hand is not needed anymore.)

  • Finally, play the melody with your right hand and add the basic chords with your left hand. Play VERY slowly at first.

Who'd have known that piano chords for beginners could sound so good? :) I hope you had fun!

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