Why Is It Important To Learn Piano Chords?

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Chances are if you’ve ever taken piano lessons, you probably spent at least a little bit of time on piano chords. But learning the names of a few basic chords and actually understanding chord theory are two different things. And while it’s possible to learn to play the piano without learning chords, there are several benefits to learning theory.

Many piano students complain that music theory is too hard to understand. They quickly give up in favor of simply playing piano by reading a score of written music. Those who take the time to learn piano chords will get the basis of chord theory, and they will also find that understanding chordal theory helps them in several ways.

Learning chord-based theory is something like learning math. You can simply memorize the fact that 2 + 2 = 4, and that may get you by for a few years in school. Or, you can learn and understand why 2 + 2 = 4. Once you do, you’ll be able to succeed in math when the formulas become much too hard to simply memorize and regurgitate. The same is true of chord theory. It’s one thing to memorize a chord chart. If you don’t understand how chords work, your skills won’t get you very much further than basic piano playing.

Do you know the incredible benefits that come to you by learning chording techniques on the piano? The following are some of the benefits that will take place when you learn piano chords;

 1. By learning chording techniques, you are at least quadrupling your chances of creating exciting new sounds on the piano — sounds that most other piano players have no idea how to create. That’s because arranging using chord techniques is open-ended — there’s no end to the styles and applications you can eventually learn and apply.

2. Knowing chords and applying chording techniques allows you to become a first-rate accompanist for singers and other musicians, should you want to do that. You will be able to “wrap the chords” around the singer to support them, rather than be in competition by playing the melody from the sheet music. You’ll be able to create fills and counter-melodies and a host of other devices that can make you the most desired accompanist in your area.

3. By knowing chords and chording patterns you will automatically open the door to opportunities to play at places you never could if you only “play music as written”. When people hear you play, they will immediately sense that “this person knows what they are doing”, which can very well bring invitations to play in fraternal clubs, churches, community centers, and even weddings and funerals.

4. Being able to apply chords to song after song means you never have to play a song the same way twice! When people see me play, they often ask me to play the song again — but are often surprised when I play it again, since I create new chord progressions and fills and improvisations each time — so it never sounds the same.

5. As you become more and more proficient with chord applications, you may discover that other musicians want to play along with you. Many a combo, band, worship team, etc. has been formed simply because one musician heard another playing, and liked what they heard. That not only leads to friendship and opportunities to play in some public forum, but also is a wonderful way to learn even more new techniques from the other members of the group!
 6. Knowing chords and chord progressions will give you a confidence you’ve never known before. It’s exhilarating to know that you’re no longer “tied to the written music”, but are free to soar through the musicphere unhindered by traditional limitations! If you’ve never known such a feeling you are in for the musical treat of your life.

7. Knowing chords and chording techniques is “self-feeding”. That is, the more you apply the techniques you know, the more new techniques will gradually become apparent. For example, once you master left-hand chords in a “hand-over arpeggio” form, if will someday occur to you that you can do the same in the right-hand. That will not just double your potential in that area, but multiply it exponentially, because you will come to see opportunity after opportunity to apply those arpeggios in many different ways — from “music box” sounds to “waterfalls” to “flowing river of sounds” techniques and so on.


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One of the most obvious benefits that result when you learn piano chords is that you will soon develop the skill of playing piano by ear. Have you ever watched a band play, such as those on late-night TV talk shows? The pianists seem to be able to pick up any song, off the cuff, and begin playing it without the advantage of sheet music or having practiced. That’s music theory at work. There are few things more thrilling than to sit down at a piano, impromptu, and provide accompaniment for any song.

Those musicians with a bent toward writing original music will find that knowing theory is essential in creating music for lyrics. Even if you don’t transcribe the music yourself, chord theory will give you the means of communicating your ideas to the transcriptionist. The final product will be exactly as you envision it.

Once you understand how chords work, you’re also in a better position to learn to play other instruments; if not play them yourself, be able to work with other musicians in the setting of a band. For example, another instrument which relies heavily upon chord theory is the guitar. This is why many piano players find it easy to pick up on playing the guitar. In a band, the music relies very heavily upon the lead of the guitar and the piano. A knowledge and understanding of chord theory ensures that the pianist and guitarist are always on the same page, so to speak.

It’s vital to find a good instructor when it comes to chords. It may mean the difference between giving up in frustration and success by becoming proficient. Taking advantage of jam sessions in your area will also help you put chord theory skills into practice in a casual environment. You’ll be able to learn from other musicians whose passions are similar. Plus, students who learn piano chord theory notice a marked improvement in their general piano playing skills.



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