Piano Street Magazine

How to Play Piano Chords

September 12th, 2018 in Articles by | 7 comments

Do you want to know how to play chords on piano? This page will provide you with the best online chord resources. Where to look depends on your purpose.

Getting Started

Do you want to quickly figure out the notes of a specific chord? Then visit one of the many sites with piano chord charts. Here are two of the best ones:

This is a classic chord chart, easy to understand and navigate. The site also has a very good music theory section. A nice feature is the Chord finder, where you can enter note names and find out which chord they create.

The best part of this site is the function allowing you to shift the voicing of the chords. In short, you can study how a certain chord looks and sounds when the notes are not stacked closely as in most charts, but spread out in different octaves.

Learn more about Piano Chords

Would you like to learn more about piano chords and how to use them? Well, there is a lot of information out there, easy to find but perhaps not always so easy to put into practice. You need a bit of background information to understand the principles behind creating chords. Some of the piano chord sites won’t tell you enough about this. Others confuse you with too much theory where it isn’t needed. Here’s a short list of piano chord resources on the internet – all very useful, but for slightly different purposes.

Beginner’s lessons. Teaches you the major chord and the three primary chords needed to play a great number of songs. You learn the chords by memorizing how they look and feel on the keyboard. Don’t go here for theory.

In a way, this is just another chord chart. But if you already know a bit about theory, you will find the little summary of details at the bottom very useful, listing the intervals, half-steps and notes used for each chord type. You can also choose between strict or simplified spelling of the note names (which means you can avoid confusing stuff like double-sharps and double-flats etc.)

Endless resources for pianists who like to read. You can pick up a lot of theory here, but explanations are sometimes unnecessarily wordy and repetitious. Although the free content will probably last you a lifetime, there are also lots of recommendations to buy various courses or books, which some may find annoying.

One of the most popular piano chord tutorials on Youtube. Aimed at beginners – “Learn four chords to play hundreds of songs” – it’s both inspirational and useful. Among other things, it tells you how so called inversions (moving the lowest note of the chord up an octave) can be used in practice.

Chords vs Scales

In your quest to learn piano chords, sooner or later you will find out that chords and scales are more or less two sides of the same coin. In other words, if you haven’t already done so, learn a bit about the major and minor scale. Knowing how to construct a scale will also enable you to form all sorts of piano chords. Here are two short lessons explaining the basic theory behind scales:

Whole and half steps in scales:

The major scale:

Once you know a thing or two about scales and the concept of raising or lowering notes by half steps, the endless chord charts will begin to make more sense. You will be able to use the them to quickly understand different chord types rather than painstakingly memorize one chord at a time.


  • Vanessa says:

    I have been trying to self-teach myself how to play the piano for the last several months. I watch a lot of YouTube videos on the subject. This is the first time I am actually understanding the chords and making use of this knowledge whilst playing. Thank you for all these online piano tips and lessons!

  • Frank B. says:

    I have been looking around the site for the last few days and taking a lot of notes that helps my practicing. I have learned a lot already and I plan on becoming a gold member real soon. I can tell this place appreciates real music and raw emotion behind the keys. Very glad I found Piano Street. Thanks!

  • jamescameron says:

    Great article! Thanks for such a wonderful blog. Please keep Informing, Nice Information on how to play piano chords. This Information really helps for the beginner’s to learn More.

  • Jessica Smith says:

    Hi, I really like the piano and now looking to learn it. Is it a good idea to learn with the help of an online resource like this. Please also share any good piano program if you know about a good one for beginners or should I take piano classes? But the thing is piano classes are very expensive.

  • jamescameron says:

    Hey nice article david. I really love the piano. The article is very informative. I am running music classes also where we train our students and help them learn the piano. I will share this article with all of them, they will get a new perspective. Thanks a lot

  • you are my king chords says:

    Great article! Thanks for such a wonderful blog. Please keep Informing, Nice Information on how to play piano chords. This Information really helps for the beginner’s to learn More. Thanks for sharing.

  • Aditya says:

    For a passionate pianist, there’s no alternative to of playing his favourite songs or tunes on Piano and spend quality time with himself. Piano is, undoutedly, one of the greatest invention made by human being. Thank you so much for sharing the resource on Chords.

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