Learning to Love Chords

Using the standard method books is a great way to get started. Understanding intervals, finger numbers and rhythms all set a great foundation to your future on piano. However, what happens if you don’t want that classical training? You are more interested in learning your favourite video game, film or TV music. This is where learning chord structures and moving to lead sheets is a great way forward.

The great thing about learning chords is that you can create arrangements of the music you love, tailored to your technical ability. You could learn the melody with your right hand and just play chords in the left. Or, you could play the melody with the right and make up some fancy left hand patterns built around the chords. Once you get used to that you can start to bring some of the harmony in to both hands while your ring and pinky fingers in the right take care of the melody. The options are endless.

There are a couple of books that I’ve found really good for that over the years. If you happen to be using Alfred’s Adult All In One book you’ll learn some chords and how they’re built. The great thing about that book is that you learn them with popular tunes.

The other book I’d recommend is the Chord Crash Course by Meridee Winters. This really drills down in to chords shapes, how they’re constructed then it takes you through how chords work in different styles of music.

Once you’re feeling comfortable with chords it’s time to move to lead sheets. I use The Real Pop Book or The Real book. The first is for pop tunes dating from current day back to the 60s. The 2nd is for jazz standards.

Both of these books give you the melody and the chord sequences used in the tunes you love. They aren’t simplified so once you learn them out the book you can jump on Spotify and play along without having to change keys.

If you want you can also learn your favourite tune by ear. Then, you can add your chords to the melody and bobs your uncle. You’ll be welcome at any party for a singalong.

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