Play the Piano – How to Play Basic Chords

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 35,078
    Professional pianist Alex Wasserman demonstrates how to play basic chords on the piano.

    Alex Wasserman

    Alexander Wasserman is a professional pianist and pedagogue whose performances include Suburban Symphony Orchestra, Cleveland, “Pianofest” , Peabody Institute, Los Angeles. He is on the faculty at the International School of Music (ISM) in Bethesda, where he teaches piano to all ages, levels, and styles. With a distinguished faculty of 55 teachers, ISM provides students with a rich music education experience. The ISM faculty’s friendly personalities, insightful approaches, and individually tailored teaching methods have helped students become complete and versatile musicians. ISM provides an atmosphere that is warm and supportive so every student can achieve his/her best.

    Alexander Wasserman: My name is Alex Wasserman and we are talking about piano basics. One of the great things about the piano is that you are able to play more than one note at a time. In fact, having ten fingers, you can play several notes at a time and create what we call harmonies. Two of the basic harmonies are major and minor chords. A chord is simply three or more notes that are played together. Let's take the major chord for example. These are three notes that are played together to create a major chord. The major chord is often characterized as having a happy sound or a pleasing sound to the ear. The opposite of a major chord would be a minor chord which is often characterized as sounding sad. The only difference between the major chord and the minor chord is that the middle note moves down a half step. So in the major chord, we have all white notes. Now the middle note moves down to the next black note to the left and creates a minor sound. These are the two basic chords on which much of the music that we play is built on. Let me give you an example of a piece in major. This is Schubert's Sonata in A major. There is no doubt that, that has a happy sound and that it is in major. Now here is an example of something that's in minor. The Chopin had a sad, minor sound whereas the Schubert was a joyful, happy sound.

    Those are the basics of major and minor chords. There are many other kinds of chords, but most of them are built upon the major and minor sonorities. Next, I would like to talk about the pedals.