young beginner piano student learning major and minor chords

Easy Piano chords for beginners

If you’re interested in playing your favorite songs on the piano or keyboard, knowing how to play chords is essential! Stick around to learn more about chords and how to play them.
Click a link below to jump to what you’re looking for:

  1. what is a piano chord?
  2. common piano chords
  3. how to make a major chord
  4. major chords chart
  5. how to make a minor chord
  6. minor chord charts
  7. step-by-step video lesson

1. what is a piano chord?

Piano chords are created by playing more than 1 note at the same time! There are many different kinds of chords, but in this post we will look at Triads. A Triad is a type of chord made up of 3 notes. A great way to remember what Triad means is to think of a tricycle - just like a tricycle has 3 wheels, a Triad has 3 notes!

The way we play a Triad Chord on the piano is by pressing 3 keys at once. These chords can be made up of white keys, black keys, or a combination of both. If you want to learn more about the notes on the keyboard, check out Easy Way to Find Piano Notes!

2. common piano chords

Here is a quick list of the most commonly used triad chords in pop music. Notice each chord has a symbol, a name, and 3 notes which make up that triad chord. The bold symbol is what you will usually see on chord charts while playing your favorite songs!

  • C  - C Major:  C - E - G

  • Cm - C minor:  C - Eb - G

  • D - D Major:  D - F# - A

  • Dm - D minor:  D - F - A

  • E - E Major:  E - G# - B

  • Em - E minor:  E - G - B

  • F - F Major:  F - A - C

  • Fm - F minor:  F - Ab - C

  • G - G Major:  G - B - D

  • Gm - G minor:  G - Bb - D

  • A - A Major:  A - C# - E

  • Am - A minor:  A - C - E

piano chords chart for beginners
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3. how to make a major chord

Major triad chords are made up of 3 notes stacked on top of each other. The notes we use to make up a Major chord are important. What’s even more important is the distance between the notes in the chord. The distance from one note to another note is called an interval. 

Major chords are made when the distance between note 1 and note 2 of the chord is a Major 3rd (4 half steps,) and when the distance between note 2 and note 3 of the chord is a minor 3rd (3 half steps.) Let’s take a look at this C Major chord on the keyboard below:

major piano chord shape

As you can see, the C, E, and G notes make up the C Major chord. The distance between the C note and the E note is 4 half steps. The distance between the E note and the G note is 3 half steps.

Half steps are counted by moving between 2 notes directly next to each other. This includes both white and black keys. So, the distance between the C key and the black key directly to the right (C#) is a half step. The distance between that same black key (C#) and the D key is also a half step.

Using this system, we can count the 4 half steps between the 1st note of the chord and the 2nd note of the chord which are C and E:

This creates an interval called a Major 3rd between the first 2 notes of the chord. A standard Major triad chord will always have a Major 3rd as the interval between its first 2 notes.

And we can count 3 half steps between the 2nd note of the chord and the 3rd note of the chord which are E and G:

With this simple system, you can create a major chord anywhere on the keyboard!

4. major chords chart

full chart of major piano chords
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5. how to make a minor chord

Minor triad chords are also made up of 3 notes stacked on top of each other. When creating a minor chord, we want to pay close attention to the distance between each note of the chord. Remember, the distance from one note to another note is called an interval.

Minor chords are made when the distance between note 1 and note 2 of the chord is a minor 3rd (3 half steps,) and when the distance between note 2 and note 3 of the chord is a Major 3rd (4 half steps.) This is the exact opposite of how we make a Major chord! Let’s take a look at this C minor chord on the keyboard below:  

minor piano chord shape

As you can see, the C, D# / Eb, and G notes make up the C minor chord. D# and Eb are the same note - but for different chords we will use one name or the other! When talking about a C minor chord, we’d more likely refer to this black key as Eb. The distance between the C note and the Eb note is 3 half steps. The distance between the Eb note and the G note is 4 half steps.

Half steps are counted by moving between 2 notes directly next to each other. This includes both white and black keys. So, the distance between the C key and the black key directly to the right (C#) is a half step. The distance between that same black key (C#) and the D key is also a half step.

Using this system, we can count the 3 half steps between the 1st note of the chord and the 2nd note of the chord which are C and Eb:

This creates an interval called a minor 3rd between the first 2 notes of the chord. A standard minor triad chord will always have a minor 3rd as the interval between its first 2 notes.

We can also count 4 half steps between the 2nd note of the chord and the 3rd note of the chord which are Eb and G:

With this simple system, you can create a major chord anywhere on the keyboard! 

6. minor chords chart

full chart of minor piano chords
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7. step-by-step video tutorial

Join Ms. Emily as she leads you through a step-by-step lesson to play all of your chords in the Key of C. This is the perfect mini-lesson for beginner piano students!

intro lesson for kids to play piano chords in the key of C

Having fun learning your piano chords, but looking for more to practice?

3 NEXT STEPS: Check out these options to help you get started!

  1. learn more about kidzKeys-Piano club
  2. join an online class
  3. take private lessons

don't have a keyboard at home?

We use the Casio SA-76 in all of our classes. The SA-76 has lots of fun sounds to choose from and it’s tough enough to stand up to your young energetic musician!

Casio SA-76 keyboard for kids in group piano lessons

HELLO AND WELCOME TO FINEARTSMATTER!

I'm Emily, from our Home Office in Atlanta, GA, and I love teaching students how to play the piano, sing, and be creative! I hope this resource helps you on your musical journey.

Thank you!

Please check your email now to download your Piano Chords Chart!

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