Kaitlyn’s First Piano Chord Progression

Lisa Witt  /  Chord Theory / Feb 28

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Getting better at the piano takes two things…

Practice, and time.

Regular practice is the best way to see improvement. But even with daily practice, it will still take a little bit of time to see the results.

Kaitlyn is back for another lesson and to check in on her progress. At the time of filming this lesson she had been learning for about 2 months and had already held a Christmas concert!!

If you haven’t been following Kaitlyn’s progress you can catch up with her very first lesson, and then how she prepared for her concert.

Learning a single song for a concert is a great way to stay motivated, but it’s time for Kaitlyn to branch out and expand her knowledge a bit, so now she’s going to learn something that can be applied much more broadly…

Kaitlyn’s First Chord Progression

All popular songs are just chord progressions with a melody over the top. So today Kaitlyn is going to learn one of (if not the) most popular chord progressions of all time.

The 1-4-5 progression.

If you don’t know what those numbers mean (don’t worry!) you can learn all about the Number System in this lesson.

Here’s how it works. We’ll be using the C scale because it’s nice and easy and there are only white notes. This is the C scale:

Each note of the C scale has a number. C is 1, D is 2, E is 3, etc.

So our 1-4-5 chord progression will use chords build on C, F, and G.

Kaitlyn has already learned how to play these chords using “The Claw” technique from Pianote Foundations, she just hasn’t learned how to put chords together to form progressions.

The Chords

So let’s look at the chords. The 1 chord is a C chord and it looks like this:

Remember what the 4 chord is? Count 4 steps up from C and you’ll find it. It’s F and it looks like this:

And then the last chord is the 5 chord, which is G:

And those are all the chords you need!

🎹 Hack Into Chords 👊

Understanding how chords work will give you a BIG leg up in learning how to play the piano. Knowing just a handful of chords will unlock hundreds, if not thousands of pop songs. To get started today, check out our free Chord Hacks course, or read How to Play Piano Chords.


Putting them together (and making it sound good)

Now we know the chords, it’s time to play them together (in a progression) and make it sound like music. This is where rhythm and patterns can come in.

To start with, play the C chord for a measure, then the F chord. Then back to C, followed by the G chord and finally C again.

You can experiment with changing the order of the chords, the length of time that you spend on one chord before changing to another, and even the rhythms of the chords themselves.

These chords have been used in hundreds of popular songs over the years. Can you name a few?

As always, have fun!

Lisa Witt has been teaching piano for 19 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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