How to Play Piano - Scales & Chords

by David Pavlicko

You don't have to spend years taking lessons to learn to play piano. I'll have you playing scales & chords in 5 minutes.


  • Piano or keyboard
  • Instructions

    Step 1

    A piano can look intimidating because of all the keys- but it's really just the same pattern over and over...

    Step 2

    The major scale is made up of only 8 notes across 12 keys. Pick any note, then count each key and follow this pattern: R-2-2-1-2-2-2-1(r), repeat all the way up.

    Step 3

    In case you're wondering, the white notes shown here are C-D-E-F-G-A-B-C. We'll cover the black keys next. This is the C major scale.

    Step 4

    Hey, look! It's the exact same pattern. It's just the notes that are different. They are : Db-Eb-F-Gb-Ab-Bb-C-Db. (the b means 'flat') ...Db major scale

    Step 5

    Follow that scale pattern until you're familiar with all 12 major scales. It'll make it super easy to figure out the next part....Chords.

    Step 6

    The major chord is simply the 1st,3rd and 5th note of any major scale. Here, that would be C-E-G. The C major chord

    Step 7

    Or, you can follow this pattern - root note, count up 4 keys (notes), then count up 3 more keys. The major chord name is whatever ROOT note you start with.

    Step 8

    A minor chord is just like a major chord, but the middle note moves down one step. The pattern is: Root note, up 3 notes, then up 4 notes. This is a C minor chord.

    Step 9

    You can now figure out a song by looking at any lead sheet or chord chart- for example, try playing these chords: C- Am (a minor)- F- G. Happy music making!