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Learn Piano Online Piano Worship Chords

Piano Worship Chords
The study of piano worship chords will serve you well in at least a couple of valuable ways. Of course, the reading and playing of hymns will become easier to you, since the chord structures used in one are often used in others. Therefore, the more you expose yourself to these structures, the more skillful you become at recognizing them and playing them. Also, the study of how many of the piano worship chords are "voiced" is conducive to your being a more creative pianist, since a developing piano stylist has great reason for learning the art of piano chord voicings, ultimately leading to a personal style of his or her own.

In this lesson, we will take a look at an excerpt from Jesus Loves Me by William B. Bradbury. The version of this hymn that we are taking a look at here is in the key of C Major...

Like many others, this hymn consists of only three chords. They are the primary chords in the key of C Major:

C Major

F Major

G Major

I should point out that a basic knowledge of piano triads will be helpful as you engage these lessons. Piano Chords 101 will provide you with a quick and easy way to familiarize yourself with the four basic chord types. In addition, if you would like to take yourself through the recommended steps of learning the primary chords for yourself, actually going through the motions of creating them as opposed to having them in front of you in chart form (a highly recommended step that provides value), consider the guidebook How To Play Piano By Ear In All 12 Keys Without Knowing How To Read A Note Of Music. That manual provides you with the formula for constructing all the primary triads in all 12 major keys. Remember, learning formulas and taking the actions of actually finding these chords has far more value than reading any chord charts.

A .pdf version of the entire hymn Jesus Loves Me can be downloaded here*
You can listen to a midi audio file of Jesus Loves Me here*

Let's take a look at just the first four measures:

Piano Worship Chords Jesus Loves Me Measures 1-4

As you can clearly see, there are no chord symbols provided, as is the case in much of piano worship music that you will encounter. However, as your chord familiarity increases, you will be able to more easily recognize these chords at first glance if this is not the case for you at this time. For example: I happen to know that I can expect to see the three primary chords when taking a look at most hymns. Since I know what the primary chords are in the key of C Major, my "mental chord antennae" immediately goes on a search for these chords... and finds them with little challenge at all. The same can be true for you.

Let us look at this same four measures with the piano chord symbols above the chords where they occur. Remember that if a chord exists with no chord symbol above it, that simply means we are looking at the same chord shown in the previous symbol (in other words, the same chord prevails until a new symbol occurs).

Piano Worship Chords Jesus Loves Me Measures 1-4
It would be appropriate to make mention of the chord symbols at this point. Notice that only letter names are used above. This is perfectly acceptable when referring to basic MAJOR triads only. However, other major chord symbols that you can expect to see in your music for the same chords (using "C" as our example) are: Cmaj or CM (notice that the "M" is upper case!)

Okay, if you know your basic chords in Root position, (which is how you will learn to play them in Piano Chords 101 mentioned above), then you will be familiar with a C Major triad being spelled out like this (from bottom to top, or left to right):


Notice that playing the C Major triad in this fashion results in the notes of the chord (or chord tones) being played as close to each other as they can be played. Because this is the case, the chord is said to be in closed position. Also, it should be noted that Root position refers to when the NAME OF THE CHORD (C, in this case) is at the bottom of the chord structure (or furthest to the left on the piano keyboard).

Now, if you take a look at the first C Major chord structure (or piano chord voicing) above, you'll notice that the chord tones are arranged:


Also, take a look at the second C Major chord voicing. You'll notice that the chord tones are arranged:



What happened here?

Well, we are still playing the chord in Root position, because the C is still at the bottom. However, a couple of changes have taken place:

For one, the G (the 5th of the chord) is being played twice in the first chord voicing and the C is being played twice in the second chord voicing.
This is quite common and acceptable.

The C and G in the bass clef are being played with the left hand and the E and G in the treble clef are being played with the right hand in the first position and the C and E are being played with the right hand in the second position.

Notice that we are no longer playing the E in between C an G in that bass clef. There is still an E in between them, of course, but it is not being played. Instead, we are playing that E one octave higher in the treble clef with the right hand. So, it is quite accurate to say that the chord tones are no longer being played as close to each other as they can be played. Instead, the chord has been opened. This resulting chord structure, or chord voicing, is said to be in open position.

Piano Worship Chords Jesus Loves Me Measures 1-4

An important point here is that, with both voicings, the melody is served by keeping it at the top of the structure!

Two notes of interest here:

1) This C Major triad chord is theoretically complete when each chord tone is only being played once. However, to preserve the idea of playing 4 part harmony, certain tones are doubled. Considering the performance of a hymn by a choir, each of four parts is preserved here... and duplicated on the piano keyboard.

2) The note that is doubled is determined by the melody note, which is the note most prominantly heard. The first melody note is G, which makes it understandable that the G would be doubled if the lower two tones are to remain where they are. The second melody note is E, which makes it impossible to play that same G again if the melody note E is to remain on top. Therefore, the next lower available chord tone is C.

We are going to continue this study, so please be sure to visit PianoAmore.net often to stay updated by clicking on "Hymn Music" in our menu. That will take you to the page where updates to this lesson will be posted.

In the meantime, consider looking at those other piano chord positions that follow... are they in closed position? Open? Which ones are which?

By the way, many of those familiar piano worship chord sounds are very easy to play and you can even come up with many of them on your own. Click here for an inexpensive resource that can get you started making some of these discoveries,  within the context of the very popular Amazing Grace. It's likely to get your ears (and eyes) to open a bit : )







Dave Longo is the creator and owner of PianoAmore.net, a site devoted to showing the
adult piano student how to unleash "The Creative Genius Within." Reach your musical
potential by taking advantage of the many piano learning tools at the site.

Click here to learn more about gospel piano chords and chord progressions

* I would like to express my personal thanks to HymnSite.com for providing both the .midi audio file and the .pdf format of this popular hymn for our use and for providing a very valuable resource for the enjoyment of all.

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