Casual to Confident Piano Player

Do These 2 Things to Learn *EVERY* Piano Chord Quickly

chords revolutionary practice methods technique Jun 03, 2024

Knowing chords on the piano is the key to everything speed-related. Whether you want to read music faster, learn difficult pieces more efficiently, or memorize pieces with ease, chords are your secret weapon. I’ll show you two things: the essential formulas to build major, minor, augmented, diminished, and seventh chords, and a method to memorize these chords quickly.

Step 1: Use Easy Formulas

Formulas are a fantastic way to build chords because they work for everyone, regardless of your level of music theory knowledge. These formulas will help you construct any chord you encounter, whether you’re reading a lead sheet or analyzing a piece of music.

Understanding Half Steps

To use these formulas, you need to know what a half step is. A half step is the distance from one key to the very next key on the piano, with no keys in between. This could be from a white key to a black key, a black key to a white key, or in some cases, from a white key to another white key, like B to C or E to F.

Building Basic Chords

  1. Major Chords: Pick a starting note and count up four half steps, then three more half steps. For example, starting on C: C to E (4 half steps), E to G (3 half steps). This gives you a C major chord.

  2. Minor Chords: Start with your note, then go up three half steps and four more half steps. Starting on A: A to C (3 half steps), C to E (4 half steps). This forms an A minor chord.

  3. Diminished Chords: Begin with your note, then count up three half steps twice. Starting on B: B to D (3 half steps), D to F (3 half steps). This creates a B diminished chord.

  4. Augmented Chords: Start with your note, then go up four half steps twice. Starting on C: C to E (4 half steps), E to G# (4 half steps). This forms a C augmented chord.

Seventh Chords

  1. Dominant Seventh: Start with a major chord and add three half steps to the top. For G7, start with G major (G-B-D) and add F (G major + 3 half steps).

  2. Minor Seventh: Start with a minor chord and add three half steps to the top. For example, A minor (A-C-E) + G (A minor + 3 half steps).

  3. Major Seventh: Begin with a major chord and add four half steps to the top. For Cmaj7: C major (C-E-G) + B (C major + 4 half steps).

  4. Fully Diminished Seventh: Start with a diminished chord and add three half steps to the top. For Bdim7: B diminished (B-D-F) + Ab (B diminished + 3 half steps).

  5. Half Diminished: Begin with a diminished chord and add four half steps to the top. For Bm7b5: B diminished (B-D-F) + A (B diminished + 4 half steps).

These formulas not only help you build chords quickly but also enable you to analyze music effectively. For instance, if you see notes like C, E, and G, you can identify it as a C major chord, regardless of their order.

Step 2: Memorize for Retention

While using formulas is great for beginners, you eventually want to memorize chords to streamline your playing and reading. Here’s how to do it effectively:

  1. One Chord at a Time: Focus on one chord a week. By the end of a year, you’ll know 52 chords!

  2. Engage All Senses: Repeat the chord’s notes verbally, play them on the piano, and recognize them in sheet music. For example, an A major chord consists of A, C#, and E. Say it aloud, play it, and look for it in music books.

  3. Feel and Sound: Practice how the chord feels under your fingers and how it sounds. Play the notes in different orders and with different rhythms to reinforce your memory.

Memorizing all chords at once can be overwhelming. Instead, take it slow and focus on one chord at a time. This approach will lead to greater fluency in reading and playing music. To see how to practice every piano chord using this method, check out the full length tutorial on the YouTube channel where you’ll see this in action. πŸ‘‡πŸ»

Sight reading is the secret sauce behind beautiful and accurate piano playing that no one’s talking about!

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