Piano Chords Demystified

Chords are the most useful skill you can have as a pianist. You’re not going to get this from normal classical piano instruction. Traditional classical piano teachers think in terms of notes, but playing from chords is all about rhythm. It’s DIFFERENT.

It’s more useful than being able to read music. In high school, I had a singing teacher who accompanied her own students on piano. She didn’t read music. She COULD, but she didn’t because she was dyslexic and it took too much concentration. But, she was a master of chords so it didn’t matter. She called them “boom-chicks” and she could play anything. She’d mastered a few basic rhythm patterns and played all her students’ songs this way.

To play a song from chord symbols, you’ve got to stop thinking about notes. It’s a different way of thinking. It’s about rhythm.

This is what you’ll do:

  • Find a version of the song that has just the lyrics and the chord symbols, no notes.
  • Work out the rhythm between your two hands ahead of time.
  • Play the bassline with your left hand while you sing the melody.
  • Play the rhythm with both hands while singing.
  • Ignore all added notes, chords you don’t understand, and anything else that confuses you.

You won’t master it right away, but that’s fine. Move on to another song quickly. It will take only a handful of songs in different keys and time signatures before you have a base level of skill that you can expand on. Then, you can add extra notes to make the accompaniment sound more sophisticated.

YouTube playlist about chords

  1. How to play chords while singing a song (Swing Low, Sweet Chariot)
  2. How to know which order to play the notes of a chord in
  3. Play Guitar Chords on the Piano
  4. Strumming Pattern for Piano
  5. Piano chords are the SAME as guitar chords (Blowin’ in the Wind by Bob Dylan)
  6. Use this chord pattern to get a nice, rich sound for singing
  7. Use this chord pattern to accompany ballads
  8. Use CHORDS (rather than notes) to learn “Glimpse of Us” by Joji
  9. Why some music sounds happy and other music sounds sad

How to know which order to play the notes in

What makes the piano more confusing than the guitar is that on the piano, there’s more than one way to “voice” each chord. That means there are more options for choosing exactly which C, E, and G to play on the piano. It’s not like there’s a “standard” way of playing a C chord.

Here’s the trick: First, choose a strumming pattern. Then, play your chords according to the strumming pattern.

That means you have to look it up somewhere. When you’ve done this 5 million times, the notes of a C chord will jump out at you, but you’re not there yet. Save yourself the insanity and look it up.

Start with my videos about piano strumming patterns. They’ll show you some chords. But, they won’t be all the chords you need for every song (let me know what’s missing and I’ll try to fill in the gaps).

Guitar chords vs. piano chords

Let’s say you currently play some songs on the guitar (maybe you’ve written them yourself) and you want to play them on the piano. I’m going to help you do it. Most of you guitar players know how to play chords. Some of you know the names of the chords, and some are playing by ear and feel (I’m impressed by that). Guitar is famous for being a “chord instrument.” Piano, on the other hand, is all about reading notes and playing scales and being a stuck-up bitch. Let’s shatter that notion. You can play chords on the piano just like on the guitar. Watch the video called “Play Guitar Chords on the Piano”, for example. Plug in your favorite chords and make your enemies tremble in fear.

Strumming patterns

Guitar players know all about strumming patterns. When you play a song, you sing the music while strumming the chords according to the strumming pattern. That’s how most people play the guitar. I bet you’d be surprised to know you can do the same exact thing on the piano.

You don’t strum the piano, but there are “strumming” patterns for piano. Meaning: patterns you play the chords to, which will make them sound interesting (just like on guitar). Most people don’t think of piano this way because the culture of piano is all about reading notes. But, you can do chords just as on the guitar.

Let’s say you’ve got a bunch of chords like C, Am, F, G. On the guitar, you’d play them one at a time, putting your left hand into the chord position and then strumming with your right hand.

Here’s where piano is different:

  • On the piano, you use BOTH hands to play the chord. And, BOTH hands play the strumming pattern.
  • On the piano, the notes for the chord DEPEND on the strumming pattern. It’s not like on guitar where you just plant your hand in the “C chord position” and expect that to work for any old strumming pattern.

Here’s what you should do: pick one strumming pattern and then play all the chords according to that pattern. In other words, choose the pattern FIRST.

👇 Your first piano strumming pattern 👇

  1. Play a C in your left hand. Then, play C E G in your right hand 4 times.
  2. Play an A in your left hand. Then, play A C E in your right hand 4 times.
  3. Play an F in your left hand. Then, play F A C in your right hand 4 times.
  4. Play a G in your left hand. Then, play G B D in your right hand 4 times.

Now you can play your guitar songs on the piano.

Learn chords by SHAPE

❌ Music theory
✅ Shapes

Now you can play anything.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *