In this post I’m going to walk you through a super-streamlined way to learn pop songs, even if you don’t yet know how to play piano (yet).
You might feel a bit daunted looking at a piano and imagining yourself playing a song, especially if you don’t know where to start. That’s why I’m here – to demystify the process so you can make progress and discover how to piano fast. Let’s jump right in! Click here for video.
Step 1: The Keys You Need to Know
The very first thing for you to understand is that your keyboard or piano only has twelve keys you need to know. The whole keyboard is just those twelve keys, repeating themselves over and over. You’ll have to memorize them, but again, that’s only twelve keys – you’ve got this.
The white keys get their names from the first twelve letters of the alphabet, so they run from A to G. Go ahead and find a key to the left of two black keys. That’s a C no matter where you are on your instrument. The one at the center is called middle C, and you can use that as a reference point moving forward.
The white key on the right of any C is called D, the next is E, and so on through to G. Now once you get to G, you start over at the note of A, then B, and so on – all the way to G again.
No matter what part of the keyboard you are on, there are only 12 possible notes you can play on the white keys. Let’s move on to black keys!
The notes for black keys are called flats and sharps. A black key just to the left of a white key is a flat, and a black key just to the right of a white key is a sharp. A simple way to memorize that is to remember that both the words “flat” and “left” both have the letters “F”, “L”, and “T” in them – so flat is left and sharp is right.
Step 2: The Most Important Chord Types, for Pop Songs & More
There are two main types of chords that you need to understand in order to learn how to play the piano, and most pop songs have both.
First, we have the major chords – “happy” sounding and bright! Music with upbeat themes or sounds usually incorporates mostly major chords.
Then we have the minor chords – the ones that can sound a bit more serious and emotional, or even sad. These are the chords you will hear a lot in ballads, in breakup songs, really across every genre – not just pop songs.
Since these two types of chords sound quite different from each other, you’ll be surprised how easy it is to move back and forth between playing them. In fact, all you have to do is move one finger to the left or right!
Step 3: Chord Formulas & Practice
If you’ve made it this far, you’re well on your way to knowing how to play the piano! Let’s go through and learn how to form major and minor chords:
With major chords, all you have to do is remember the 4-3 formula. Put your first finger on the note that is named after whichever major chord you want to play.
So for example, let’s say you want to play a C major chord. Put your first finger on C. Place your second finger 4 keys to the right (make sure you count the black keys!). Add your third finger 3 keys to the right of that (don’t forget those black keys!). Congratulations – you just played a C major chord.
Got that? Good – let’s move on to minor chords. The formula for minors is 3-4.
For a C minor, do the same thing you did before but just reverse the formula.
First, place your first finger on C again. Now put your second finger 3 keys to the right, and your third finger 4 keys to the right from that. There you have it! You’re playing a C minor chord.
That wasn’t so bad, was it? Now you can practice applying what you’ve learned for any chord you want to play. All you have to do is place your first finger on whichever key you want to play a chord for, and count upwards from there to find where to place your other two fingers.
Go ahead, try out a few more chords and practice changing them back and forth from major to minor.
Step 4: How to Find Chords for Pop Songs
Once you’ve gotten comfortable using the two chord formulas, you’ll want to move on to playing actual songs. After all, that’s why you’re here, right?
Now you might have been wondering how you are going to know what chords to use for different songs. It’s easy – all you have to do is choose a song and do a quick online search for the chords.
In my video, I chose “Let It Be”, a classic pop song by the Beatles. I found the chords by searching “let it be chords” in Google search. One of the top results was from www.ultimate-guitar.com, which is a website I recommend a lot for anyone looking for chords.
As you saw in the video, when I clicked on the link the words and chord notations loaded – with the chords appearing right over the places in the song where they need to be played. Whenever you have a particular song you want to play, go ahead and do an online search of your own. Usually, the top several results are going to be the most reliable.
Step 5: Getting Started With a Pop Song
Once you have a song and its chords pulled up (in my case, “Let it Be”), take some time and practice slowly going through the song.
Each time you see a chord change, don’t panic! Just find the chord the same way you did before: put your first finger on the note that chord is named after and count upwards using the major or minor formula to determine placement for your other two fingers.
After you’ve gone through and gotten a hang of the chord changes, you can begin to play along with the rhythm just like I showed in the video. Obviously, you’ll need some practice, but there’s no time like the present to get started!
How to Play Piano – Bringing It All Together
Learn the notes on your keyboard, find chords using the simple major and minor formulas I’ve explained, and bring it all together by practicing along with chord notations you can easily access online. That’s all you need to do to be well on your way to playing your favorite pop songs!
A great way to further build your knowledge is with my free 5-day workbook. In it, I walk you through all the steps in this post, with plenty of examples on how to practice and expand your newfound piano-playing skills.
So what are you waiting for? Grab a copy of the workbook for yourself and take advantage of my resources – so that you can learn to play your favorite songs, fast.
Ready to get started? Grab your copy of Jacques’ Free Workbook Today!
Video Transcript – How to Play Piano – Learn Pop Songs on the Piano in 5 Minutes
Have you always wanted to play those pop songs you hear on the radio? Adele, Bruno Mars, the Beatles – but you always heard piano was hard, didn’t you? Just give me the next five minutes and I’ll show you how you can almost instantly be playing all your favorite songs on the piano even if you’ve never even touched a piano before.
Jacques Hopkins here, with Piano In 21 Days: where I’ve taught thousands just like you to learn piano in the least possible amount of time. In this video, I’ve included some of my best tips and tricks to get you playing your favorite pop songs on the piano in just five minutes. So let’s go ahead, start our timer, and begin.
How to Play Piano – The Keys
A standard piano has 88 total keys. Some are black, some are white, but don’t let it be complicated! They’re all just keys, and the only reason for having black and white keys is so you know where you are on the piano.
Now you don’t need to memorize all 88 keys. Each section of 12 keys just repeats itself over and over again across the entire piano. So here we go with the keys.
The white key just to the left of two black keys is C, next is D, then we have E just to the right of these two black keys. Next is F to the left of the three black keys, then G.
After G the alphabet starts over in music. So this is not H but it’s A, and from G we go to A. And finally we have B which is just to the right of the three black keys.
Now the black notes are called flats and sharps. A black key just to the left of a white key is a flat, and the black key just to the right of a white key is a sharp. To remember that, just remember that flat is on the left. Both have the letters “F”, “L”, and “T” in them. So flat is left, and sharp is right.
Major and Minor Chords
Now that you know all the keys on the piano, let’s talk about how you can play your favorite pop songs. You see, any pop song can be broken down into chords, which are just multiple notes played at the same time. And there are a lot of chords out there – but the majority of them fall into 1 of 2 categories: either major chords or minor chords.
The major chords are the one that sounds all happy and cheery, kind of like this… And the minor chords sound a little more sad and dreary like this…
Formulas and Practice
So here’s all you need to know in order to play all the major and minor chords on the piano. For major chords, just remember 4, 3 and for minor chords just remember 3, 4. Let me show you what I mean: let’s say you want to play C-major. Start at C and we’ll go up the very next 4 keys, 1 – 2 – 3 – 4 and then 3, 1, 2, 3, and there’s our C major chord.
Now instead [if] we want to play C minor, we will just reverse the formula to 3, 4. So we’ll go 1 – 2 – 3, 1 – 2 – 3 – 4, and there’s our C minor. In the left hand we’re just going to play 2 C’s. So again with the left hand, C major like this and the left hand for C minor is the same.
So now let’s try a couple more, let’s do F sharp minor. We’ll find our F key, it’s sharp so that’s to the right, so it’s a black note. It’s a minor chord, so we’ll use the formula 3, 4. We’ll go 1 – 2 – 3, 1 – 2 – 3 – 4. We’ll do our 2 F sharps on the left hand, and there’s our F sharp minor.
Let’s try B flat major next. So here’s our B key, it’s flat, [so] think left. Okay, and then it’s major, so let’s do 4 and 3, 1 – 2 – 3 – 4, 1 – 2 – 3, 2 B flats in the left hand. And there we go!
So now you know every major and minor chord on the higher [part of the] piano. But the next question is, how do you know what chords to play for your favorite songs?
Jump on over to Google and type in the name of the song that you want to learn how to play, followed by the word “chords”. In this example, I want to learn how to play “Let it Be” by the Beatles. So I’m just going to type in “Let It Be chords” and search on for that.
The first result will almost always be the best one, so click on that and there you have the chords to that song.
Going Through “Let it Be”
So this song starts out with our C major chord, next we move to G major then a minor. So it’s a minor – 3-4-1-2-3-4 in F major. Then C major, G major, F major.
Now here’s a tricky one with the slash. That just means you’re playing a different one in your right than in your left hand. So this C/E would be a C in your right hand and an E in your left hand.
Then we have D minor and C major, so it sounds something like this…
How to Play Piano – Adding in Advanced Techniques
Now that is obviously a very basic version of the song, but there are a lot of advanced techniques we can throw in there to spice it up a bit. For example, we could play our pointer finger in our left hand – we can do something called an inversion.
So for example, our C major chord could be played with the same notes but just in a different order. Eventually, it could sound a little something like this…
It’s Your Turn
So it looks like we hit our time of just five minutes! Go ahead and try this method out with some of your favorite pop songs, and when you’re ready to learn some of the more advanced techniques I’ve got a free ebook waiting for you at PianoIn21Days.com. Just click on the link in the description below.
Ready to get started? Grab your copy of Jacques’ Free Workbook Today!