Just started teaching myself to play the keyboard. I'm trying to use one-finger chords now, but not sure how long I am supposed to play the chord for. Is it over the whole bar or bars of music or just the first note the chord letter (say C or G) is mentioned at the beginning of the bar?

I'm assuming it is over the whole bar but not sure.

  • Could you clarify what you mean by "one finger chord"? A chord, by definition, contains multiple notes, which is impossible with only one finger.
    – WillRoss1
    Oct 26, 2019 at 15:17
  • 2
    @WillRoss1 - entirely possible on a lot of keyboards. Just press the 'one finger chord' button.
    – Tim
    Oct 26, 2019 at 15:52
  • @Tim Oh, you mean that setting that I accidentally turned on when I was 12 and thought me keyboard was broken? XD
    – WillRoss1
    Oct 26, 2019 at 16:15
  • 1
    @StephenKelly May I ask why you are learning to play this way? It is only applicable to specific keyboards, is significantly limited in what it can do (no dim chords, sus chords, inversions, extensions, etc.) and won't help you advance to the next level at all (may even make it far more difficult). Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying there is not a valid reason, but as a classically trained pianist this just doesn't make any sense to me. Hence why I'm asking :) I'd really love to know the benefits of this. Thanks!
    – WillRoss1
    Oct 26, 2019 at 16:21
  • WillRoss1 you can play a lot of chords with the function. It's similar to the buttons on accordions. May 26, 2020 at 20:26

3 Answers 3


There seems to be some confusion based on the comments under the question. The term keyboard in this case is a synthesizer, that means an instrument with lots of sounds, often several hundreds of sounds and lots of different styles for the rhythm box.

On such a keyboard the "one finger chords" is a standard option. You start the drum machine and then you press a key with one finger on the left side of the instrument and the chord is played. Like press C and you get a C major chord played in the style you have chosen.

Now the question is about whether the chord should be continued the whole bar. Yes, the normal thing is that the chord is continued until a new chord is indicated. You don't need to keep pressing the key, the chord will continue until a new key (for the next chord) is pressed.

It is called "one finger chords", but as soon as you want other types of chords you need to press more than one key, like C7 is C and B pressed at the same time. But as long as you stick to plain major chords you only need to use one finger.


When reading from music like this...

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...piano staff with chord symbols.

Or, like this...

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...a lead sheet with only melody and chord symbols, the convention is to play the chord until a new chord symbol is given. Often the chord changes are one or two per bar. Sometimes you may see the note N.C. meaning no chord.

Sustain the chord while moving through the notes of the melody. Some of the melody notes will be chord tones and others will be non-chord tones. That melodic flow in and out of chord tones is very common.


I started that way too, for me it depends on the style you are playing. I would try learning chords and try to fit them with your preferred style. The beat helps you decide how long of a measure it should be played.

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