I have read that:

In elementary piano, the left hand (lower notes) typically plays chords, while the right hand plays the melody. If you're playing pop or rock and singing, you might want to play the chords with the right hand and the bass note of each chord with the left hand.

1-So if you play the chords with the right hand, there needs to be someone else to play the melody? i.e. are you actually the bassist of the band in this situation?

2- I have seen sheet musics that have notes in both treble and bass clefs and also chord symbols above the treble clef. Are those only for bands? Cause you can't play a chord when you are using your both hands.


  • 1
    I've asked the keyboard guy to move it up an octave because his left hand was frequency-blocking me. Jul 27, 2014 at 23:20
  • @DaveJacoby that is a convenient option and I think it is good to listen to what sounds best. The guy could also move it up more than an octave by using chord translations. The piano player should not in any case play very low notes in a band because the bassist and guitarist take care of those (like you said).
    – jeppoo1
    Dec 31, 2019 at 15:46

4 Answers 4

  1. If you're playing the chords with the right hand and your left hand is playing the bass line, you have a couple options. The book suggests that you sing to it, but somebody else can play the melody using another piano, sing, or even play it on instruments like the harmonica, violin, or saxophone, which can closely mimic the human voice.

  2. Piano sheet music with chords on top can be used when the piano is accompanied by a guitar or another piano. Lazy musicians like me use the chords when learning a song quickly because chords are easier to play instantly than proper music. They can also be used in improvisation at more advanced levels because they give you an idea of what the music sounds like so that you can invent a melody line that goes with it.

Also, usually the left hand in a song plays music that resembles chords in some way (either through split chords, arpeggios, thirds, etc) so the actual chord names are just extras.


re 1)

I think what the text might mean is ..

If the melody is the sung melody, you probably don't want to play it while you're singing it. You'd just be playing over your own singing. Normally this doesn't work too well.


In fact it is possible to play chords with both hands and a melody at the same time. The trick is to play the melody as the brightest tone, and add one or two chord tones below it in the right hand. The left hand can play the entire chord or just the bas tone (maybe doubled in two octaves). - It is a bit tricky to teach the brain to automatically add chord tones to the melody, but it's worth the effort!

  • This should also be an accepted answer. This is how I play contemporary music or improvise on the piano.
    – jeppoo1
    Dec 31, 2019 at 15:48

If your local TV system has the "Play Piano in a Flash" infomercials, that sounds like it's right where you are developmentally. I'm not suggesting you buy the course, just that you watch the show. You can see a lot just by observing. Learning to play from lead sheets/fake books, which is what you're looking at, is of enormous benefit and very enjoyable. I'm talking fun! In spite of all the mistakes you'll make. :)

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