A piano chord is basically just two or more piano notes that get played together. It’s not as easy as just picking two or three random piano keys, but it is relatively simple once you understand it. It really does help if you learn how to play piano scales before venturing to learn how to play piano chords, but with the information you’ll find here – you can still get started. 

NOTE:

If you want to learn how to play piano overall (really master the instrument) I’d suggest getting this course to continue learning more. 

It's by Hear And Play and it's one of the best piano courses I've gone through. It's not based on traditional teaching - you learn by ear which speeds up the process A LOT. Definitely check it out if you are thinking of learning to play the piano. 

There are tons of different chords out there you can play and you won’t be able to memorize them all right away. But you can definitely learn the basics behind how these chords get built. The two basic types of piano chords we’re going to talk about here are major and minor piano chords.

First Learn Piano Scales

First let’s talk about piano scales – there are two (major and minor). You can find the major and minor scale to any piano note by counting intervals? What’s an interval? It’s either a “whole-step” or “half-step” (i.e. a move left or right) from one piano key to another.

Check out this picture:

learn how to play piano chords

As you can see a whole step is moving from one key to another while skipping a key in between. A half step is moving from one key directly to the next without any keys left in between.

Learn more about how to play piano scales in Video #1 below this article on "Piano Scales"

Now Let's Talk Piano Chords

If you watched the video and can build piano scales making chords is easy. As long as you remember to assign a number to each piano note in a scale, you can use those to build the chords!

A basic type of major or minor piano chord is the triad chord. It's called a triad because it has three different notes in it. 

Now remember this...

Any major triad chord can be built and played by using the FIRST (1st), THIRD (3rd) and FIFTH (5th) notes of any piano scale.

Here's an example

What's the C Major piano scale? - C, D, E, F, G, A, B

Now apply numbers 1-7 to those letters (C = 1, D = 2, etc.)

What you end up with is C (1st) + E (3rd) + G (5th).

So a C major chord is C-E-G. Try playing those notes on your piano and you'll see that they create a beautiful, harmonious piano chord.

Here's a visual for you:

C Major Piano Chord

What About Minor Chords

Minor piano chords and piano scales are very similar to their major counterparts. To turn a major scale into a minor scale you simply have to "flatten" the 3rd, 6th and 7th notes of that scale.

What does it mean to "flatten" these notes? It just means to move a HALF STEP (remember those intervals above?) to the left.

So In the above example with the C Major scale, you'd take the 3rd (E), 6th (A), 7th (B) and flatten them by moving them down (to the left) one half step.

E becomes an Eb.

A becomes an Ab

and B becomes a Bb

The minor version of the C chord uses the same notes values as the Major chord (i.e. the 1st, 3rd and 5th notes of the scale) But the 3rd note is no longer an A - it becomes an Ab in the minor scale. That means that our new C MINOR piano chord would consist of C-Eb-G:

See this visual:

C Minor Piano Chord

Did I lose you? Then you definitely want to check this out to learn more about playing piano properly and all the different things like flats, sharps, and other music theory concepts.

Check out Video #2 below to learn more about how to play piano chords

Ok Great! Now what?

Well hold on now.. You're not a master at playing piano chords. You've only learned the basics. There are many different types of piano chords out there - majors, minors, diminished, augmented, sevenths, ninths, etc - and you only know the basics.

If you really want to master learning how to play piano chords then you have to check this out. It's a course specifically on mastering piano chords by Hear and Play. It will help you master every piano chord out there quickly and easily. It's audio based so there's no more reading involved.

I bought the course myself when I first started learning the piano and it helped me immensely. I recommend it to anyone I help learn piano (along with the 300-page full piano course here). 

Hear and Play makes GREAT products. Don't be thrown off by their focus on Gospel. Regardless of what style of music you play, their courses will give you a huge leap forward in your learning and your ability to play real music on the piano.

Don't believe me? Try out their free lessons here.

Conclusion to Playing Piano Chords as a Beginner

There's so much more to playing the piano than simple major and minor chords. Learn these different chords and you'll be able to captivate an audience without learning how to read music or anything else. Of course, you can if you want to. But first learn the chords. 

If you want a shortcut to learning how to play every piano chord out there click here.

That's all for now! Will be back soon!