Chord charts an an easily accessible way to play songs. You don’t need to be able to read music to do it! A chord chart is also known as a lyrics and chords sheet and consists of only that: the lyrics and the chords. In this tutorial, I’m going to teach you how to read a chord chart on piano – super easy and lots of fun!
What is a chord chart?
On the chord chart, the chords are usually written where they are played based on the lyrics. This makes it very easy to figure out when to play the chords as you sing.
Here is an exerpt of Here, There and Everywhere by The Beatles in lyrics and chord format
The chord chart is an accessible form of sheet music, because it doesn’t require you to know how to read sheet music. You just need to know how to play basic chords in major and minor. Each chord is written where it is played in relationship to the lyrics. As long as you know how the song goes, you’ll be ready to play!
Need to learn how to play major and minor chords? Check out this tutorial!
Where to find chord charts
To find lyrics and chords, your best bet is to type in the name of the song followed by lyrics and chords. You’ll usually find a ton of options. One thing to be careful about is to make sure that the song is in the same key as the original recording. A lot of these lyrics and chords sites are intended for avocational guitar players, which means there is often a capo involved. You’ll want to make sure that the song is in the right key and isn’t in a lower key intended for a capo to play.
Step #1: Play through the chords
You want to make sure that you are able to play the chords as easily as possible. If you aren’t secure in your major and minor triads, you’ll want to check out this tutorial, where you can also download a custom cheat sheet to help you with your chords.
I recommend that you get in the habit of playing the chord in the right hand and the root of the chord in the left hand, as it is a great way of replicating a full band sound. In this case your left hand is acting as the bass player and your right hand is acting as the guitarist or pianist.
Want to learn how to accompany yourself on piano? Check out this tutorial!
Step #2: Play the chords and SING
This part can be a bit tricky at first. Often times you’ll start playing the chords and won’t have any idea how to actually find how the melody sounds. You can tackle this in two ways:
- Play the original recording of the song and sing along for a few seconds to find where the melody sits.
- Figure out the first note or first few notes of the song and write them down on your sheet music. This will give you the chance to just play those notes before you start singing.
Step #3: Play and sing in time
Now it’s time to get your song performance ready, by working on improving your time feel. You can do this by practicing with a metronome or a band-in-a-box drum machine like the iReal Pro or Drum Genius. Feel free to start at a slower tempo until you are confident and then move it up to a faster tempol
Step #4: Play and sing along with the original recording
Once you have worked the tempo up, you are ready to jam with your favorite band. This is so fun to do!
Want to start developing your own arrangements of your favorite songs? Check out this article and tutorial, where I teach you several great an not-too-hard methods to accompany yourself on piano.
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