How To Read Chord Charts On Piano

Lisa Witt  /  Technique / Nov 20

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Chord charts are an awesome tool for learning to play songs using chords and your ear. They allow you to view the song with chords only, leaving the rest up to you. This is a great opportunity for you to play things YOUR way.

It’s important to keep in mind that they won’t tell you everything you need to know in order to be able to play a song. They just give you chord names and the rest is up to you!

Here are some of the most common chord symbols you will find in chord charts. For the sake of this article we will use G for all the examples but you can encounter these symbols in any key.

G Maj7  – This means to play a major 7th chord. Major triad with a major 7th on top.

G min7 – This means to play a minor triad with the 7th of the minor scale on the top

G7 – This is a dominant 7th. It is a G triad with a flat 7 on the top

Gsus4 – Play a G chord but swap the 3rd for the 4th note of the scale

Gsus2 – Same as a sus4 but swap the 2nd for the 3rd this time

G+ – A stack of major 3rds

G dim – A stack of minor 3rds

Those are some of the most common chord symbols. Want to know more? Feel free to send us your questions. We always love to hear from you!

Lisa Witt

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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