Hello to all the music fraternity, mentors and experts. I am struggling long time now with the problem of playing the chords correctly at the required places while playing any song or melody. I am confident of the chords / melody when played separately, but when I play songs & chords together, if I focus on melody, the chords or their timing go wrong and if I focus on chords, sometimes the melody goes wrong. By chords going wrong, I mean, by the time I look and hit the chords, the required beat / note has already gone ahead. Most of the times, it is the timing that goes wrong(either I tend to miss the timing or play it before the required note. For eg: If I am playing a I – V – vi – IV, I know those chords very well, I also know the melody where that progression fits very well, but when I am trying to put those chords to the melody/song, I simply miss to play (or incorrectly play) the chords at the exact timings/notes as defined in the music notes /sheets. Although, later, I get it then with tons of practice.

While I am all in to work extremely hard to get things right, I am also concerned whether I am putting my efforts in the right place, whether I am putting my huge efforts in the right way of practice? What is the right way to practice together the melody/songs, the chords and primarily "the timing to hit the chords" so that I don't get the above problem? I tried to google this issue a lot but couldn't find a good solution/assurance? what if I keep on practicing tons of songs by simply matching/coordinating the timing, the chords and the melody to eventually get the song right but only to discover later that in the same efforts, I could have done more songs, covered more grounds if I had practiced some other way?

I am aware that there are threads [like these (Learn piano one hand at a time or simultaneously?) and (How to practice for piano with chord in one hand and lead in another?)] that answer a part of that question, my concern is more about timing the chords.

some additional info that may help is I am using yamaha arranger keyboard and use the left side accompaniment section to play the chords & rhythm. Also, to have more space to play, have limited the area to play the chords to left most octave i.e the first octave only. Hence, many a times, i use inversions to play the chords. However, even if I don't use the inversions and don't limit the chords to first octave, the earlier described problem still exists.

Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thankyou in advance.

  • 1
    I highly recommend "Fundamentals of Piano Practice" by Chuan C. Chang.
    – Pyromonk
    Commented Jul 14, 2020 at 13:28
  • Why do you play in the chord and rhythm mode? Commented Jul 15, 2020 at 4:15
  • 1
    Thankyou @Pyromonk . I will certainly read through and apply what I get from this book
    – Bodhi
    Commented Jul 15, 2020 at 6:35

3 Answers 3


Probably not what you want to hear, but tons of practice is the correct answer, and this goes for almost anything with music.

From my experiences playing any instrument (and really anything in life that requires practice), you start slow and don't speed up until you can play it perfectly at a slow tempo. In the case of piano, I personally would section up the music into phrases and practice the left and right hand independently from each other, and then once I can play those well I will put them together at a slow tempo. After I complete 2 phrases I'll try to join them and sightread the next phrase.

I play trumpet, and I had practiced a lot with bad habits which resulted in slower learning. I put in more effort for less results because my fundamentals were off. The only way to know if you're wasting time with lots of practice is getting someone else to critique your technique. Unfortunately, we can't do that here, but I would say if you are concerned, it is well worth your money.

It takes lots of time... we all know that, we just don't like accepting it ;)


  • thankyou @EricNie. I will get someone to critique my play. As I said in my post, I have no issues working loads of time for getting it right. I just want to make sure, I am practicing right
    – Bodhi
    Commented Jul 15, 2020 at 6:39

Don‘t use the chord and rhythm mode. You’re a human and not a computer. The latter is over- exactly. May be this the problem, as you say you know the chords well.

  • Thankyou Albrecht, I need to use the rhythm because I am playing the songs and they sound very good with rhythm / styles on keyboards
    – Bodhi
    Commented Jul 15, 2020 at 6:41

Sounds to me like you don't know your chords well enough. Sorry to have to say, but without hearing/seeing you play, this is guesswork. You say you can't get to chords in time, or accurately. So that tells me you need to stop learning new songs for a while, and try to understand relationships between chords.

I have this sneaky suspicion that a lot of people who learn song after song simply learn the sequence of chords for each song, and rarely, if ever, understand how certain chords go with other certain chords, in many many songs. For example, after a C major chord, probably the most common next would be either F or G. Even that bit of information will help, as you ought to be able to change between C F and G without looking at your hand. By being able to change between certain chords, that will become automatic, and solve at least one problem.

That last paragraph illustrates the importance of knowing 'chord families' - those 3 majors and 3 minors that make up most of any diatonic songs. For instance, in key G, say, I'd expect G, C, D, Em, Am and Bm to be the chords i'd play most. I certainly wouldn't expect, say, A♭ or C♯ to suddenly occur. So being able to play any of those chords, in any order, will set you up for no-need-to-search-for-notes!

There could be - and probably are - a few other hiccups in the way you play, but I only want to hone in on this factor.

  • thankyou @Tim. you have given me a clue to check if I am following progressions. I am going to go and check in the all the songs that I am playing whether the chords written there are following the rules of progressions.However, I checked on some simple progressions that occur naturally in the diatonic scale for eg: C - I IV - vi - V, as long as tempo is slow, I am able to play this, when the tempo becomes medium to fast, my fingers seem to pause for few milliseconds before the beat the required beat, in that process the beat is lost. :( ,I just want to find the right way to correct that
    – Bodhi
    Commented Jul 15, 2020 at 7:13
  • If you are late with a chord, it's too late! The music and rhythm carry on, so you must as well. Be late - no, miss out this one - yes. The music won't wait for you, so you must keep up; missing out sometimes is o.k. for now.
    – Tim
    Commented Jul 15, 2020 at 7:26
  • great. Its feeling good to know that is how I am doing now. but my heart bites me when I miss it, I know internally that I missed it. I m sure, many in the audience will also catch that. How should I practice to prevent that (other than practicing million times, yes I am doing that. I must ensure that there is no better way than doing what I am currently doing) Thankyou tim.
    – Bodhi
    Commented Jul 15, 2020 at 7:46

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