How to Play a Major Chord on the Piano or Keyboard

By Holly Day, Jerry Kovarksy, Blake Neely, David Pearl, Michael Pilhofer

Major chords are the most frequently used in piano or keyboard playing. They are the most familiar, and easiest triads to play. It’s a good bet that most folk and popular songs you know have one or two major chords.

You make major chords with the notes and intervals of a major scale. You build a major chord by starting out with a root note and then adding other notes from the desired chord’s scale. For example, suppose you want to build a G major chord.

Play the root note G and add the third and fifth notes (or third and fifth intervals) from the G major scale on top of the root note.

Major chords are so common that musicians treat them as the norm. These chords are named by just the root, and musicians rarely say “major.” Instead, they just say the name of the chord and use a chord symbol written above the staff to indicate the name of the chord.


Use fingers 1, 3, and 5 to play major chords. If you’re playing left-hand chords, start with LH 5 on the root note. For right-hand chords, play the root note with RH 1.


To play a song with left-hand major chords, try “Down by the Station.”