Easiest way to learn how to play chords on keyboard?

I’d like to be able to lay down some chords on a keyboard and record them in Logic for making backing tracks and the like.

What is the easiest way to learn how to play chords on keyboard? How would they teach it to a child in a school?


Keyboard player here.

Most piano chords are played in triad form. So just get used to playing the chords in Root-3rd-5th form.

There’s a lot of resources available on YouTube for this entry level stuff so I would personally start there. Feel free to message me or reply here with more specific questions!


Yoy can try those little colored stickers!! :blush:

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Thanks guys. I just want to be able to play really simple chords. I will order a packet of stickers, it’s a good thing I know the names of the notes in the chords!

Hi @aliendough, while not exactly the greatest keyboardist in the world, i’ve had young kids playing jazz voicings very quickly via a simple observation. And I do not recommend stickers.

If one focuses on the point where keys go back into the board, one notices that the black keys and white keys are the same size. I point out the shapes in the chromatic scale, and they’re off, playing key agnostically. Pretty exciting to see happen.

I don’t know if anyone teaches this way, but it’s worked for me, and the kid in particular I’m thinking about knows more jazz voicings than folks that have gone through many boards of study. :slight_smile:

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I vote against stickers! Keyboard shapes are so visually distinctive and physically and obviously tactile they almost memorize themselves. It’s not like guitar frets which all look the same and feel the same.

The best way is the hands-on way. Considering you already know the musical aspects of this, I’d just spell out some chords or progressions that you like and play them. You can play around with inversions if you like, that’s up to you. But really, all you need to know is that C is the note just to the left of the pair of black keys. There’s not much more to it to get started!


my two cents here…
If you want you fingers to get used to a keyboard - play some scales. Ok, I know it may sound strange since scales and chords are two different things, but it really helps. And… start with the E-major. Believe me or not it’s much easier than C-major.

Stickers = Bad - Don’t do it! hahaha

Umm, Maybe learn the first Hanon thing for your finger exercise needs (Guitarists NEED to punish them selves hahaha) Then I’d go after major triads in 12 keys root inversion, practice it in cycle of 4ths/5ths (I do 4ths) CFBbEb AbDbGbB EADG. Once you have that, do the same thing with LH doing octave bass, then rinse/repeat with the minor triads in cycle of 4ths/5ths, then learn a basic blues boogie woogie kind of thing with a simple walk… If you can do some simple blues scale soloing over top of your bassline, that would be deadly… (Keep it light, have fun!)

At this point you will have surpassed me, I am not much of a keyboardist… Good luck!

@aliendough, Although I do agree with the above, it depends on whether you want any skill on the keyboard moving forward. If you don’t and you only want say a sustained chord for x measures and then change to another chord for x measures, then enable ‘cheat mode’ and punch them into logic i.e. click it in. Its fine if you don’t mind the lack of ‘feel’/groove and only getting the basic of all basic rhythms.

Another trick/cheat is to learn how to play all the chords you want in one key (c major maybe as it is all the white keys if playing diatonically) and then use logic to transpose it to any other key you would like. This enables you to get good at getting to grips with the chords physically and a bit of tonal variety. You can always move onto playing in the other keys as you progress.

With cheat mode disabled, I would say that simple chords on keyboard are easier to learn than your first chords on guitar.

I would just use the score function and program your piano chords like you would program drums.

C is next to CHOPSTICKS, and F is next to FORK. :thinking:

The easiest way to learn piano is with a piano teacher. They have incredibly sophisticated teaching systems that make non-classical guitar teachers look… not very smart.

I find the problem with a guitar is that some notes are on it once (say E2), twice, three times, four times, five times, and even six times (E4). So, the guitar is annoying regarding navigation: It has huge amounts of redundant notes and despite having around 144 places to finger it is merely has a four octave range, making it look pretty bad compared to a piano that has exactly one note per key, and its 88 keys therefore span over seven octaves!

But the guitar does have one advantage (other than portability), and that’s that chords can be translated up/down the neck to change key and keep the same fingering (impossible on a piano). Indeed, I tune in 4ths so that I can even move across the neck and still keep the chord shape. So, I actually think that chords are pretty easy on the guitar, as well as transposing keys (that requires a big brain for the piano). But I only make chords with no more than 4 strings, as that’s enough given my heavy distortion, and I also make my chords piano-like (when I can).

Yep, that’s why learning scales structure or chords structure is easier on a guitar. Whole-whole-semi-whole-whole-whole-semi…)) It looks the same on almost every fret, while piano is not as straightforward.

As for chords, when playing with distortion obvious choice is to use more open chords (wide intervals) while piano sound works well even with very dense chords and even tonal clusters.

Second dimension on a guitar (same notes - different strings) is quite convenient actually, because you can often choose what fingering to use. You don’t have such luxury on a piano :frowning:

Another interesting technical difference is: the closer chord’s intervals are - the easier this chord to play on a piano. Guitar is opposite. Grabbing three major/minor 2nds gives you a lot of trouble (though every kid can do it on a piano). At contrary 4 octave chord is so easy (F-shape) on a guitar and is quite uncomfortable on a piano.

Different instruments, different feelings.