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I am a complete beginner in piano, can read notes at a very basic level; came across this method of learning to play popular songs by using guitar chords so plan to do that, the problem is I do not know which chords to learn since there are so many of them; additionally there are inversions and other methods whose group name I do not know, can anyone please tell me the name of those arrangements?

Additionally I would like to hear your opinion on this method, does it make sense? If yes than what else and what all should i do to keep in mind.

I just want to learn for fun, not for being a seasoned professional.

  • where did you find this method, can you provide some details? chords aren't specific to an instrument though some voicings will be easier to play on one instrument or another, while some will be impossible on some instruments. – b3ko Oct 1 '18 at 19:15
  • Hi Anirudh, welcome to the site. It's hard to know exactly what you mean by "using guitar chords", unless you mean playing them on the guitar. Do you mean you will just play a chord progression by ear rather than reading each note from a score? – topo Reinstate Monica Oct 1 '18 at 19:22
  • Get a piano teacher or find lessons on Udemy. What you've been told is bizarre. Start with the basics. – r lo Oct 1 '18 at 19:22
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    I don't think this is bizarre! What I think you are asking is 'How do I start to play from a lead sheet or a fake book?' – Tim H Oct 2 '18 at 7:35
  • The more you learn the more you can play. This question, sadly, has no answer. – Carl Witthoft Oct 2 '18 at 13:52
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My reading of the question is, you want to take a piece of sheet music which has the piano score, plus guitar chords above it. You want to play the music using the guitar chords rather than the notes.

If that's how you want to play, then it isn't 'bizarre'. It's a valid way of learning to make music rapidly. You should spend some time learning to read music, of course, but playing keyboards using just chord names is fine. Not always accurate, but fine enough for casual playing.

Start with a I–V–vi–IV progression. In the key of C, this will mean learning the C, G, Am and F chords. That'll cover many songs, and as you play them, you'll learn other chords as well - but start with these. No black keys needed :p

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    Also, if learning guitar songs in particular, it will probably be a good idea to learn that set in G. G, C, D, Em, and perhaps Bm will cover lots of folk/rock written for guitar... – Luke Sawczak Oct 2 '18 at 15:32
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    This is a good answer, but I would caution about C major. The all white keys makes it seem easy, but it actually can be the source of difficulty. Key (signatures) with one or two black keys are actually easier, because the black keys give some visual and tactile reference points to help position your hand. It's easy to get lost in only while keys. – Michael Curtis Oct 2 '18 at 15:39
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I imagine you are coming from a guitar perspective where the basic chords are E, A, D, G, C, and then the minor form Em, Am, and Dm. Then you may have add in the dominant 7 forms of those chords. Basically the CAGED system. It's popular on guitar, because it exploits the open strings. Keep the open strings part in mind when switching to piano.

Piano doesn't have any open strings so we don't have that as a way to think of easy or beginner chords. But, on the piano we have the black and white keys. Those are important in regard to fingering and especially the placement of the thumb when playing scales.

If you want to start playing basic chords on the piano you can ignore the issue of the thumb and the black key (temporarily, but you should learn about it and playing scales eventually.) A very simple approach can be play the chord root with the left hand in the bass and play full chord in the right hand.

In the right hand use chord "voicings" or "voice leading" which moves to the next chord with the shortest stepping of the chord tones. Usually this will be movements of whole or half steps. Like this...

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...of course it will depend on exactly what the chord changes are in the music, but the main point is use small steps.

Start out with simple chord changes in the basic keys. Stuff like I-IV-V-I or I-vi-IV-V in keys like C, G, and F. Maybe try minor in Gm or Em.

Getting back to comparing piano to guitar. As you learn your piano chords you will notice there are chord "shapes" on the piano. For example, A major, D major, and E major chords all have the same shape: two white keys with one black key in the middle. When you examine these shapes you will notice there are only 8 shapes for the basic major chords. Same thing for minor chords, there are 8 shapes. Look for these shapes as you learn more chords. These shapes and the way your hands fit into the black and white keys are a way to gain an understanding of the keyboard. To me this keyboard understanding is similar to understanding open position chords on the guitar.

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