How to Play Chords on a Keyboard or Organ

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Being able to play chords on a keyboard or organ is a fundamental skill that you will need if you plan to accompany a soloist, ensemble or choir. Chords are combinations of notes that blend together to make a harmonious sound. Since keyboards and organs are very similar in structure, playing chords on either instrument involves a very similar technique. With a little practice, you will be able to play many different chords on the instrument of your choice.

Things You'll Need

  • Keyboard
  • Organ

Keyboard Chords

  • Look at the notes on the keyboard. The white notes span the musical alphabet of A, B, C, D, E, F, and G. The black notes are called sharps (#) or flats (b). A black key that lies to the left of a white key is the white key's flat, whereas a black key that lies to the right of a white key is the white key's sharp. The entire musical span including the black keys consists of A, A#(Bb), B, C, C#(Db), D, D#(Eb), E, F, F# (Gb), G, G#(Ab).

  • Place your right thumb on a C note. C notes are the white notes located just to the left of any set of two black keys.

  • Place your middle finger on the next E note. E is four half steps to the right of the C. Count each black and white key as a half step (C#, D, D#, E).

  • Place your fifth finger on the next G note. G is three half steps to the right of E.

  • Place C (the root of the chord), E (a third) and G (a fifth) simultaneously to play a C chord.

  • Use this pattern of the root note, plus four half steps to the right, plus another three steps to the right in order to play any chord. For instance, an A chord would be A, C# and E. You can play these chords with your left hand as well by using your left fifth finger, left third finger and left thumb.

  • Play minor chords by playing the root note, three steps to the right (a diminished third) and then four half steps to the right (a fifth).

  • Play inverted chords by beginning with the third or the fifth of the chord rather than the root. For instance, the first inversion of a C chord would be E, G and C, and a second inversion of a C chord would be G, C and E.

Organ Chords

  • Finger the chords on an organ the same way you would on a keyboard.

  • Add bass notes with your feet. A base note that would correspond with a chord would be the root of the chord. For instance, a D chord would have a D in the bass.

  • Use the heel of your foot to play white bass notes. If your organ's pedals aren't colored black and white, the white notes would be the long pedals.

  • Use the toe of your foot to play the black bass notes (or short pedals).

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References

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