Tulsa’s best music lessons | Playing Chords on the Piano

This content was created for Curtis Music Academy


Hi, thank you for joining me for this podcast from Curtis’ Music Academy. Today’s topic is going to be playing chords on the piano. Many students take Tulsa’s best music lessons in order to learn chords. So something that is so fascinating and so fun is learning to play chords on the piano. A fun story of this is I was classically trained at the piano, so I learned how to read sheet music and I learned how to memorize sheet music, but I didn’t know how to play chords with a band. And so I was a teenager at the time and my brother was playing the bass at our youth group band. And I was a little bit jealous of the attention that he was getting on the stage. And so I thought, I want to be a part of the band as well, and I play the piano, so it should be easy for me to get up there and play. And so I asked to be a part of the band in the person. 

Let me know the person who is the leader was the youth pastor. He would be playing the keyboard and I would be on the stage playing the piano, the acoustic piano. After the first session, I realized I knew nothing about playing chords, the piano. So it’s just kind of like a funny wake up call. And since then, I did learn a little by little about playing chords on the piano. But yes, it is very different from learning how to read sheet music or learning how to play songs that way. So reading chords is used a lot in contemporary or pop music, and so it’s just diametrically different. This is why it is important to incorporate chords into your Tulsa’s best music lessons.

I wish I could go into the differences with you. Maybe that’s a podcast for another day. But I have some students that take Tulsa’s best music lessons at Curtis’ Music Academy and they said, I only want to play chords. I’m not interested in reading sheet music, but I do want to play people like Elton John or Adele or things of that nature. So I have developed a list of things. I would say this would be maybe for beginners who want to play chords on the piano and maybe some of the things towards the end of my list really is more for an intermediate person who wants to learn how to play chords because you can actually go very far playing chords. 

Another flashback to some of my experience playing chords is after that initial time in the youth band of me clunking through and learning how to play chords on the piano, I actually moved with my family to a new school and there I learned how to play chords very well. At the time, I was also learning how to play the guitar and so the idea of chords was actually beginning to open up to me and I didn’t even realize it. How cool is that? And so at that time, I learned how to play major and minor chords and I am a minimalist by nature. And so I just played major and minor chords on the guitar and on the piano. We teach those chords in Tulsa’s best music lessons at Curtis Music Academy. For years. I was a part of my church worship team. 

I was a part of my school’s worship team and that’s all I thought I needed. I mean, like I don’t need how to learn how to play an E seven diminished, blah, blah, blah, all these things. And that’s just kind of funny. Again, in my last podcast, I talked about how sometimes kids grow up and they only like chicken tenders and French fries, and that’s how I was with music as well. And so now that I’m a little bit more mature, I can understand why people love the sound of an E minor 7th chord or suspended chord or some of these things. So it’s definitely been fun along the journey as well understanding chords and teaching them in Tulsa’s best music lessons.

So let’s go ahead and dive into some of these things. Playing chords on the piano, a person needs to understand major and minor chords. I usually start off with just the right keys on this because once you find the pattern with the white keys, you can really apply it to the Black Keys as well. Another thing to work on is major and minor penta skills. I always, in fact, should probably start with Pinto’s skills first and then do the chords, because to me the penta scale is the formula in which the chord is built from the point of skill. Another thing I do is inversions blocked in broken chords for major and minor chords. And so that is where it usually takes several weeks of Tulsa’s best music lessons to really get that. 

And I’ve made the mistake in the past of saying, OK, by next week, just work on all the inversions for all major and minor chords. And it’s just too much. There’s just so many things. So maybe just a little bit out of time as we continue to work on new songs, that is probably a little bit more appropriate. Another thing is arpeggios and separate and together, that’s just a really great and warm up, full scale major and minor diatonic chords for every key. Again, that’s probably a little bit overkill for a beginner who’s learning how to play chords. But that’s actually something I’m challenging myself with right now, is to be in the cave and to do the diatonic chords during Tulsa’s best music lessons for every key.

Another thing is the Roman numeral system. So if you’re in the KFC and you see a Roman numeral one, what does that mean? If you’re in the key of a and you see a Roman, Roman, Roman numeral two. What does that mean? It’s different for every single key. So another thing I do is common chord progressions in different keys. That one is very key. You could actually spend months there. And in my years of playing in worship teams, that’s pretty much all I did for years. So that is super helpful. Another thing is the left hand adding some different left hand patterns. It makes it sound a little bit more full. We go over this a lot in Tulsa’s best music lessons.

That’s always my goal when playing the piano is playing with authority and playing like I, you know, like you’re large and in charge. At least that’s the way I was when I was a teenager. And things have changed a little bit since then. OK, next on the list is Susp for Accord’s says two chords, minor seventh chords. I include minor seventh chords here because actually I did learn how to play minor seventh chords several years ago. And it does add so much depth and authority. I’m going to use that word again. And it just makes you seem like there’s a bigger presence when you’re playing the minor seventh chords. So I learned how to play all of those at the same time, and that is the way I teach during Tulsa’s best music lessons.

And so I like to include those sets for the siestas in the minor 7th. They just seem to really go together for me after really going through that. Again, it could take months and you could just keep pulling out songs with those new additions, the seventh chords, major minor dominance. And I used to not like those chords at all. I didn’t like how they sounded.