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The first time I ever saw a chord chart was when I played worship songs on the piano for church.

The worship leader knew I played piano, but I had only ever played classical music. Still, I got assigned to the piano, and it was super daunting at first!

But I soon learned how easy playing from chord charts is. And that it’s super fun.

This lesson is designed to give you confidence to play piano at church. We’ll walk through three popular worship songs:

  1. “Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone)” by Chris Tomlin
  2. “10,000 Reasons” by Matt Redman
  3. “Great Are You Lord” by All Sons & Daughters

But first, a quick note about chords…

Church piano players often play in a band, which is great because you’re not pressured to carry ALL the music. You also learn how to collaborate with other musicians, which is a very important skill. (Photo by Robert Bye on Unsplash)

Chords are king! 👑

This lesson will assume you know a little bit about chording, while still taking things slow.

If you’re brand new to playing chords, make sure you watch this lesson first to learn how to play a major or minor chord in any key.

Or, to get an even more in-depth understanding of chords and why they’re so great, sign up for our FREE Chord Hacks series.

With that out of the way, let’s dive into our first song.


1. “Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone)” by Chris Tomlin

Those are called slash chords, and they look more daunting than they are.

Let’s use F/C as an example.

The letter on the left of the slash tells you what chord to play with your right-hand. So in this case, you’ll play an F chord.

The letter on the right tells you what note to play with your left-hand. In this case, a C.

So you’ll play an F chord in your right hand with a C note in the left:

This rule is true for ALL slash chords.

Just remember: left letter = right hand chord; right letter = left hand note.

2. “10,000 Reasons” by Matt Redman

<<Download the 10,000 Reasons chord chart>>

This is one of the most requested worship songs I get, which is awesome because it’s also a great song for beginners.

Straight away you’ll notice that there’s a slash chord, but that’s ok! You know how to play them now 🙂

But there’s another funny-looking chord here, one that is quite common in worship music: that Dsus4.

And while you can play a normal D chord here, sus chords are easy to learn and they add more character to your sound.

“Sus” is short for suspended. And all sus4 means is we swap the third note with the fourth note.

See, a D chord has the notes D-F#-A. The D is the root note — the first note of the D major scale. The F# is the third note, and the A is the fifth.

So, we swap out F# for G because G is the fourth note of the D major scale.

It sounds really unfinished, which is why most sus chords resolve to the major chord immediately after. This happens in “10,000 Reasons” because the chord immediately after our Dsus4 is a D.

3. “Great Are You Lord” by All Sons & Daughters

<<Grab your download of Great Are You Lord here>>

The final song for this lesson is a classic, but it can be a bit tricky because of the time signature. It’s in 6/8, which means it has a little swing to it.

What I recommend is to listen to this song first and get a really good sense of the rhythm.

You’ll also notice that we have one more new chord to learn: a minor 7th chord!

While you can easily play a normal B minor chord in place of the 7th, the Bm7 adds color.

Basically, a seventh chord means you add the seventh note of the scale to the chord. In Bm7, that seventh note is A. Therefore, our Bm7 chord is B-D-F#-A.

But you don’t need to play all these notes in that exact order. In fact, prefer to put the 7th note below the root note and play A-B-D-F#. Like this:

It’s a lot more comfortable for me and my small hands!

Play around with the other chords in this song. There are only three, which makes it ideal to experiment with 🙂

Summary

As you can see, it only takes a little bit of chord knowledge (and bravery) to play piano in church!

Modern worship songs are not complicated, and the most common chord types you can expect to find are the ones we’ve covered in this lesson.

If you’d like to explore worship piano more, we have an entire course designed to teach you how to play piano in church. It’s a 10-lesson, step-by-step course that will walk you through all the skills you’ll need, so you can feel confident joining a worship team.

Happy practicing!


Lisa Witt

Lisa Witt has been teaching piano for 18 years and in that time has helped hundreds of students learn to play the songs they love. Lisa received classical piano training through the Royal Conservatory of Music, but she has since embraced popular music and playing by ear in order to accompany herself and others.



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