If you’re dying to learn how to play your favorite song but you don’t yet know how to read music, you can learn how to play songs with piano chords!
It’s really easy to learn how to play music with chord charts. First, you will want to find a leadsheet. A leadsheet is a piano score that has notes in a melody AND some letters above the notes.
For example, you may see something like: D, F#m, or Bm. Let’s talk about how to decipher chord symbols in the most basic way.
1. Ignore the Numbers in Chords When You’re First Learning.
If you see any numbers in the chord symbol, they may be omitted for now.
For example: if you see F#m7 – ignore “7.” The chord will sound just fine without it as you are still learning how to play songs with chords on piano. When you have mastered the basics, you can add the numbers back in.
2.What does the letter on the chord symbol mean?
Each chord symbol will start off with a letter. This letter represents the “root” of the chord, which is the main note (the bottom note)- what gives the chord its name. The root of the chord will always be labeled with an uppercase letter.
3. Are there any symbols after the letter?
If there is a symbol such as a #(sharp) or b(flat) after the letter, that means that the root note will likely not be a white key on the piano. To learn piano key names, visit our post about why piano keys are black and white or enroll in piano lessons in NYC with us!
If you see a #, that means to play the key to the right of the indicated letter.
If you see a b, that means to play to the left of the indicated letter.
4. Determine if a chord is major or minor by looking at the letters.
Sometimes, a letter will be followed by a lowercase “m”. This means that the chord is minor rather than major.
The C Major chord is indicated simply by the letter “C”.
The C minor chord is indicated by “Cm”.
The A Major chord is indicated by “A”.
The A minor chord is indicated by “Am”.
How do I make a Major Chord on the piano?
We have 3 notes to find for each chord symbol:
Chord root (bottom note): The letter will tell you the bottom note (the one on the left side). Press it and hold it.
Chord Third (Middle note): If there’s no “m” after the letter, then your next note will be 3 skips away from the first one. Carefully count 3 keys to skip, both white and black, and press the next key.
Chord Fifth (Top note): do the opposite of the previous step. If you skipped 3 keys before, then now skip 2, and if you skipped 2 keys before, then now skip 3.
How do I make a Minor Chord on the piano?
Just like the major chord, for minor chords, we have 3 notes to find for each chord symbol:
Chord root (bottom note):The letter will tell you the bottom note (the one on the left side). Press it and hold it.
Chord Third (Middle note):If there is a “m” in your chord symbol, then skip 2 keys instead and go with the third one.
Chord Fifth (Top note):do the opposite of the previous step by skipping 3 keys.
Watch the video below to make sure you are doing this right, and have fun while you learn how to play songs with chords on piano!