When I was a private piano teacher and vocal coach, I had many students who wanted to learn the piano well enough so they could accompany themselves, but they didn't want to spend a lot of time and effort really learning the instrument.
So this lesson will teach you what you need to know to be able to play chords that you can sing to -- and you'll learn it in less than 5 minutes.
Now I need to stress that these are BASIC chords. There's nothing fancy here. We'll be making chord shells -- so you don't have to worry about major or minor. These will work with both.
I mention in the lesson that we have other lessons on chording. If you want to learn more -- I REALLY recommend checking out our free Chord Hacks series: www.pianote.com/chord-hacks
Reading A Chord Chart
The easiest way to play the piano while you're singing is to use a chord chart. Chord charts show the lyrics of the song, and then above the words, there are letters. These letters represent chords. They look like this:
Finding The Root
So now we know what chord to play -- how do we find it? To do this we need to learn the 'Musical Alphabet'. That just means learning the names of the notes on the keyboard. This is super simple because there are only seven of them! They look like this:
As you can see -- to the left of every group of 2 black keys is the note C. This is true for the entire keyboard. It just repeats.
So if our first chord is C, we put our thumb on the C. The other note we play in the chord is the note that naturally rests under our pinky finger. In this case that's a G. We always want to play the note that is five steps up from the root note.
And that's our C chord!
To make it sound fuller, we can also play a C with our left hand further down the piano.
Try to figure out what notes you would play for each chord in the chord chart example above!
The final thing we'll need to do is add a bit of rhythm to make it sound more 'musical'. This just means playing the chord more than once. We could play the chord on every beat, or every second beat -- it's really up to you!
And that's the very basic way you can play the piano well enough to sing over! Of course, there is more to learn, but this is a great start -- and it took less than 5 minutes :)
I'd love to hear what you think, or if you have any questions. And don't forget to check out our other lessons when you're ready to build more complicated-sounding chords.