• Mastering The 12 Major Chords On The Keyboard Has Never Been This Easy For Beginners

    in Beginners,Chords & Progressions,General Music,Piano,Playing By Ear

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    Mastering the 12 major chords on the keyboard can be overwhelming and I know that because I’ve been there.

    At the earliest stage of my musicianship, one of the things that challenged me most was the fact that I had to learn things in dozens. If you learn anything — note, scale, interval, chord, progression, song, etc —  you have to learn it in a dozen keys.

    So, I’ve been thinking about how I can help beginners like you master a dozen major chords the easiest way possible so I came up with the easiest way to go about it and it’s been helping a lot of beginners.

    Attention: I’m sorry if you’re not a beginner. This lesson is for beginners by the way.

    But before I share it with you, let’s quickly do a review on the major chord.

    A Short Note On The Major Chord

    The major chord is a collection of three related notes played or heard together.

    Attention: These notes are said to be related because they come from the same major scale. So, if you don’t know your major scales, you will neither understand nor appreciate the relationship between these notes.

    If you know the C major scale:

    …you can form the C major chord if you can single the following notes out:

    The first tone (C):

    The third tone (E):

    The fifth tone (G):

    If you put those tones together, you should have C+E+G and that’s the C major chord:

    Now, there are a dozen major chords on the keyboard (twelve of them.)

    If you want to learn and master them, you’ll have to know the corresponding major scales and probably go through the process of singling out the first, third, and fifth tones of the scale.

    Well, the scale process of forming major chords is great but it’s not very easy and while I recommend that you do that because you’ll find it valuable when you do so, I’m here, today, to show you how to get the major chords under your belt — twelve of them.

    If you’re ready, let’s do this in the next segment!

    How To Master The 12 Major Chords On The Keyboard

    Anyone who knows what white and black colors are and can do the following:

    1. Change black to white
    2. Change white to black

    …can master the twelve major chords on the keyboard.

    Submission: I know you’re wondering what black and white has to do with the chords on the keyboard.

    The Black And White Notes

    It doesn’t take more than black and white notes to form chords. All chords on the piano are either:

    All white or a combination of white and black notes

    All black or a combination of white and black notes

    So, if you pay attention to white and black notes, you’ll find major chords easier to learn.

    The C major chord (we reviewed in the last segment):

    …consists of all white notes:

    C is white:

    E is white:

    G is white:

    “Here’s The D Major Chord Template…”

    Learning the D major chord:

    …and how it’s a combination of “white-black-white” notes:

    D is white:

    F# is black:

    A is white:

    …gives us a template to learn other major chords with.

    D major:

    …is NOT the only major chord that has the “white-black-white” template. We have the following chords:

    E major:

    A major:

    Technically, if you can play the D major chord (using the “white-black-white” template), you can can also play the E major and A major chord.

    I want you to tell me if these “D-template” chords really look different:

    D major:

    E major:

    A major:

    Trust me, it takes the same hand position to play these chords and they are so related that you can find their alphabet letters between the 2 o’clock and 4 o’clock position of the music circle:

    “Did We Forget The C Major Template?”

    The “white-white-white” notes of the C major chord:

    C is white:

    E is white:

    G is white:

    …provide us with a template that we can play two other major chords with:

    F major:

    G major:

    So, if you have the “white-white-white” template in mind, you can play the following chords:

    C major:

    F major:

    G major:

    …and the root note of these chords are so related that they are found as neighbors on the music circle:

    …precisely between the 11 o’clock and 1 o’clock position.

    “We Have Six Out Of Twelve Major Chords Under Our Belt…”

    Using the C-template:

    C major:

    F major:

    G major:

    …and the D template:

    D major:

    E major:

    A major:

    …we’ve covered six out of the twelve major scales on the keyboard. What an easy way to learn and master chords!

    Alright, let’s keep going.

    “Here’s The Db Major Template…”

    Using the chords in the D major template:

    D major:

    E major:

    A major:

    We can create a new template by doing one thing:

    Changing black to white

    Changing white to black

    Attention: Remember that I told you this in the beginning. Now, let’s see how changing black to white and vice-versa can help us master more chords.

    So, the D major chord:

    …is “white-black-white” in color and if we change white to black and black to white, we’ll have a new template:


    …that produces the Db major chord:

    So, switching from the D major chord to the Db major chord:

    D major chord:

    Db major chord:

    …is as easy as going from one color template to its opposite; changing the black notes to white and the white notes to black.

    This “black-white-black” template is not unique to the Db major chord:

    …it works for three major chords:

    Db major chord:

    Eb major chord:

    Ab major chord:

    …and once you have this template mastered using the Db major chord, you can play the Eb and Ab major chords with it as well.

    “Here’s The B Major Template…”

    If you know the B major chord:

    …you know the Bb major chord:

    It’s the same change of color template from white to black and vice-versa.

    If we take the B major chord:

    …that is “white-black-black”:

    B is white:

    D# is black:

    F# is black:

    …and change the colors, we’ll have the Bb major chord:

    …that is “black-white-white”:

    Bb is black:

    D is white:

    F is white:

    “The Final Chord On Our List…”

    We have just one chord to go on our list and that’s the Gb major chord:

    …and when you look at the G major chord:

    …you’ll clearly see where it’s coming from.

    If you take all the white notes in the G major chord:

    G is white:

    B is white:

    D is white:

    …and you change them to black notes, you’ll have a “black-black-black” chord (the Gb major chord):

    Gb is black:

    Bb is black:

    Db is black:

    …an entirely new color template that we don’t have to memorize.

    Final Words

    Thank you for reading today’s lesson. I’m very certain that you’ve seen how you can easily get a dozen major chords under your belt using color templates.

    I specially appreciate my mentor and role-model, Jermaine Griggs, for the opportunity given to me to share this concept with you. My gratitude knows no bounds.

    If you have any question, contribution, suggestion, etc., kindly reply using the comment section below and I’ll be happy to respond.

    See you in the next lesson!

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    Onyemachi "Onye" Chuku is a Nigerian musicologist, pianist, and author. Inspired by his role model (Jermaine Griggs) who has become his mentor, what he started off as teaching musicians in his Aba-Nigeria neighborhood in April 2005 eventually morphed into an international career that has helped hundreds of thousands of musicians all around the world. Onye lives in Dubai and is currently the Head of Education at HearandPlay Music Group and the music consultant of the Gospel Music Training Center, all in California, USA.

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