If you started playing piano when you were very young, you probably didn't get to chords for quite a while, perhaps years. This is unfortunate, because chords are the "secret ingredient" in all music (all harmonically-based music, that is.) Fortunately, it's not too late! You can start learning chords at any age and immediately begin applying them to your piano music to gain understanding, fluency, and confidence.
Learning music without learning chords is like learning letters without knowing how they combine to form words. Or learning words without having any clue about sentence structure. But as with language, we can use chords to help us understand music better, both when creating it ourselves and when interpreting written music.
Here are 5 ways that knowing chords will make playing piano easier for you (much easier!):
- Sight-reading gets much easier when you can relate each written notes to its underlying chord.
- If you play a wrong note or get lost, it's "no big deal" because you can easily find your way back via the chord progression.
- You can use a song's chords to improve upon or alter the written accompaniment part for many songs. It's a wonderful feeling to be able to choose whether to play the music as written or be "in the moment!"
- You can work exclusively from the chords and play a song any way you like. You can play it differently every time, depending on what you wish to express musically and emotionally.
- You'll understand the music from the composer's point of view, since they related the melody to an underlying chord progression. This will give you a lot of insight into how the music was constructed.
In summary, chords are a musical "safety net" in all styles of music. Whether you're playing Mozart, jazz, or the latest rock or pop song, think about the chords as you're moving through the music. Once this becomes second nature, you'll experience music in a whole new way. You'll enjoy the music more, you'll enjoy your playing more, and you'll feel a lot more confident because you'll automatically know how to handle any mistakes that might arise.
So now it's your turn: learn your chords and see what happens to your piano playing!
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