Piano Lesson Three: How To Play Piano Chords

Hello Everybody – I hope that you are having fun learning to play the piano. I hope, too, that you are all keeping that practice up, and that you are  getting to know your way around the keyboard.

In the first lesson you learned how to play the Octave, and in Lesson Two, we covered the Scale of C Major.  So now you can play the Scale of C Major in both the left hand and the right hand- using the correct fingering. Best to keep these separate until you have learned the fingering inside out.

You have also learned how to read the notes of the Scale of C Major on the Treble Clef, and also on the Bass Clef.

That’s just great. Already, you can play Octaves, the Scale of C Major, and you can read music. You are doing very well.

This is Lesson Three, on How To Play Piano Chords.

In just a moment, we are going to learn how to play the Major Chord on C.

First, before we try to play this chord, What Are Chords?:

Chords are fascinating things. They are used all the time in guitar music. If the guitarist strums the guitar, then he/she is playing chords on the guitar. If you get the music sheet for a song, such as a Beatles tune, then you will see letter names above the melody, all along the way throughout the tune. These letter names are the names of the chords which are used in the song. These chords can be played either on the guitar, or on the piano.

You will find that understanding how chords are formed musically will help your understanding of music overall. Understanding how chords are formed will enlighten you as to  how music is shaped. Chords represent the basis of the  musical system we use today, which is all about harmony.

Chords which harmonise are the sounds which back all those favorite melodies we love to sing or listen to.

Playing Chords: Being able to play  chords on the piano will be of enormous benefit to you,  as this will give you the ability to accompany  your own melodies, or to accompany other people when they sing. You will be able to play chords when somebody plays along with you on their guitar.

How to Play the Chord of C Major on the Piano.

The key of C Major has no black notes, and so it has no sharps or flats, which we will find out about later. For now, just accept that C Major is a simple key to play in, because it does not use any black notes.

So, let us see what the chord of C Major looks  like when it is written on the stave, in the key of C: Here is a diagram of the Chord of C Major written on the Treble Clef, or ‘G’ Clef.  The first chord is using Middle C as the tonic note, or root.  The second chord is still a C Major chord, but it is written an Octave higher.

So – What Do You See?  How is this C Major Chord Formed? You can see that the notes are formed with one note left out in between each note which is played. On the treble clef above, you see the note C at the bottom, with a line through it. The next note of the chord is the E, which is on another line. The third note of the Major Chord on C is the G note.

Play these three notes together, which are written on the stave:  – C, E, G.

Great – You are now playing the Major Chord on C - the notes C, E, and G.

Now, let’s look at the notation for the left hand. Here is the Bass Clef, or F Clef, with two examples of the  chord of C Major notated. The first example is written an Octave below Middle C but the tonic note, or root of the chord, is still C. The second chord is an octave higher, using Middle C as the root note, or tonic note.

It is such a logical system. Now look – the ‘root’ of the chord is the lowest note, the note which the chord is formed on, when it is written in its 1st position, like these examples above.

You will have spotted that if the first note is on a line, then the other two notes forming the major chord will also be on a line. They will take the next two lines immediately above the root note of the chord.

You will have spotted that if the ‘root’ of the chord is on a space, then the other two notes which form the chord are on the spaces directly above the first note, the root note of the chord.

So it is on the piano/keyboard: To form the major chord on C, you play the C, miss a note, play the E, miss a note, then play the next note, the G.

Practice playing the C Chord with the right hand.

Practice playing the C Chord with the left hand.

Play them often, and try to get the fingers to come down on the notes evenly, so that the notes are played all at the same time. This will become easier with practice, as your fingers will become more strong given time. When your fingers have developed strength, then your technical ability will have improved, and you will be able to play these notes altogether, without difficulty, and with a nice even sound.

So – now you can recognise the Chord of C when it is written on the stave. You also can play the C Chord on the piano.

How to Form the Chord of F Major on the Piano:

Now – we are going to learn how to play the Chord of F Major. The formula to play the F Chord  is exactly the same as playing the C Chord. ….the play a note, miss a note, play a note, miss a note, play a note…..routine, using the F note as the root, or the base of the chord. In the right hand, we will use our thumb on the F note.In the left hand, we put our little finger on the F and build the chord up from there…………

So now we will build the F Chord

Right hand first: The thumb will be on the F note. Miss the G note, Play the A note with your 3rd finger. Miss the B note. Play the C note with your little finger, the 5th.

There you have it – the F Chord in the right hand. This is how the F Chord looks on the stave, in the Treble Clef. We have given you two different placings of the F Chord in the Treble Clef. They are an Octave apart from each other.

Now, here is what the F Chord looks like in the Bass Clef. We have again shown you two different placements of the chord of F. They are an Octave apart from each other, as you can see.

To play the F Chord in the left hand:

You will put your little finger, the 5th, on the F note. The 3rd finger of the left hand will take the A note, the thumb of the left hand will take the C note at the top of the chord.

Practice For the Next Few Days:

Read the chords which we have notated for you. These are just the two chords, on C Major, and on F Major. Play them all. Get familiar with these chords. Get good at moving from one chord to another quickly, with ease, so that you can play the chords without faltering.

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7 Responses to Piano Lesson Three: How To Play Piano Chords

  1. leo Karkas says:

    I am not young anymore, I play piano by ear. I have never learned anything about neither the reading of the notes nor the combination of harmonious notes together. I am fascinated by how you make the piano lesson easy and interesting to learn. Thank you.

    • Bianca Tremolo says:

      Thankyou Leo. Glad that you find my piano lessons helpful. I hope you are continuing to progress with your playing.
      Sorry I did not reply earlier – I have been away and moving house for a bit. But I am ready now to answer any queries you have.
      Thanks again for your nice comment.
      Regards,
      Bianca

  2. Fiona Reyes says:

    Hey Teacher, i just want you to know that i really love your tutorial. I’m just 12 years old and my mom said that if i learned how to play piano she will put internet/ wifi in our house. Hope i’ll learn piano with your tutorial. I have problem learning how to read notes or music sheet. I’m getting confuse with that, hope you’ll help me. By the way, your a good teacher :)) I’m learning. So thanks for that.

    Truly,
    Fiona

    • Bianca Tremolo says:

      12 years of age is a great time to begin playing piano. I hope you keep inspired to learn. Feel free to ask any questions if you think I can help.
      Best Wishes,
      Bianca.

  3. Fiona Reyes says:

    Your such a good teacher. I wonder why i found your lesson interesting and i’m not getting bored. I’m here to tell you that i already learned ow to read notes because i toldyou in my earlier message that i’m getting confuse. I went back in that lesson and read it again and i learned it :)) I’m very happy that you made this site for us who like to learn piano. Keep it up teacher. I ador you :)) I’m just 12 and i’m learning with your tutorial not only learning but also i’m enjoying alot :D

    • Bianca Tremolo says:

      Thankyou Fiona.
      I am glad that you are enjoying learning to play the piano. All it takes is a little effort. If you persevere, you will be well rewarded.
      I will be putting up some more posts in the next few days.
      Keep practising.
      Bianca.

  4. David O Solomon says:

    Look guys,I found this really interesting.I don’t know anything about music but I play Piano(Just with the triads keys).I couldn’t understand your musical symbols;I could nt even read that stave.Help me with advice please cos I love it

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