When you look to find out how to learn piano chords, you need to understand that a chord is the building block of musical accompaniment. A chord is a combination of notes that will be played simultaneously. There are many instruments that are not capable of playing chords, but a piano is one that has the capability of filling up a musical sound with both rich chords and single notes. Learning to play chords on the piano will be an important part of your piano playing experience and the structure of chords will be something you will want to learn and practice to get the best from your efforts.
How To Learn Piano Chords – Basic Chord Formation
Let’s take a look at a simple chord in the key of C:
- Find middle C on the piano, which is the white key directly to the left of the two black keys closest to the middle of the keyboard of the instrument.
- Place your right thumb onto middle C. This will be the bottom note, or “root” of the chord.
- Count every key (white and black) starting with the black key to the right of middle C until you get to the fourth key above middle C. (What you’re counting are called half steps.)
- Put your middle finger onto that key, which is the “E” key.
- Play C and E together using your thumb and middle finger.
- Count three more notes up to the right of E, and place little finger on that note. This note is G.
- Play C, E, and G together. This is called the chord of C major.
Extension of Learning
- To be able to do this with various keys, repeat this process moving up the various keys on the piano.
- To understand which key you may be playing, you can recognize each key by the progression of white piano keys, which are C, D, E, F, G, A, B, C. These are the simplest keys to remember. The black piano keys are “sharps” or “flats” of the white keys. Sharps are to the right of a white key, and flats are to the left. For instance, the black key to the right of middle C can be called C sharp or D flat, depending on which chord progression you’re playing.
- To play the major chords, use the formula shown above, being the root note counting up plus four piano notes and then a further three notes.
- To play a minor chord, use this formula: the root, plus three notes and then four notes. (To put it simply, major chords have a crisp and clear sound, where a minor chord sounds more melancholy.)
This is the basic formula to playing chords and how most music is developed and written so now you know how to learn piano chords. As you get more advanced you will learn more about diminished and augmented chords as well as adding further intervals such as a seventh to get into different styles of piano playing.