Do you want to start learning how to play keyboard in a band, jam along to the Eagles at home, or write your own rock songs? This guide will help you get started.
If you want to fast-track your success and start playing with a real rock band faster than you thought possible, give Soundcheck Rock Academy a call. We teach piano lessons in Columbia, MD, guitar lessons, drum lessons, and provide a full rock band experience for our students.
Learn Popular Rock Chords
You don’t necessarily need to be able to read music on the treble and bass clefs to play rock music (although it’s always good to learn), but you will need to know some chords. If you see a C Major chord on the sheet music, you’ll need to know how to play the notes: C, E, and G. You’ll also need to know how to play these chords in inversions, or in other words, a different order.
For instance, the C Major chord is built by stacking C, E, and G. Now if the notation wants you to play the C chord with an E on the bottom, it will be notated as such: C/E. That slash tells you to place that particular note in the bass.
Slash chords can also be a bit more complicated. You can create interesting sounds and add more color to a tune by adding bass notes that aren’t in the original chord.
Try playing a C major chord, with the triad in the right hand, and the bass note (a C) in the left hand. It’s a pretty simple sound.
But if the notation was written as C / D, you would change the left hand bass note to a D, making the overall chord D (left hand), C, E, and G (right hand).
Side Question: What is the Root of a Chord?
You’ll see lots of talk about “roots” in rock chord instruction videos. The root of a chord is the note upon which the chord is built – the root of a G chord is G, for example. If a chord is in “root position,” it is stacked in a simple triad (G, B, and D). If the chord is in its first inversion, the B comes first.
Start Learning Chord Progressions
All rock songs are built on chord progressions. Perhaps the most basic chord progression is I-IV-V, meaning you start with the I (root) chord, proceed to the IV, then the V chord, then back to the I. These chords are built on notes in the scale of a given key.
Let’s revisit C Major. The scale goes: C, D, E, F, G, A, B, C.
C is the root chord (I), F is the fourth scale degree (IV), and G is the fifth scale degree (V). So the I-IV-V progression is:
I (root) chord: C-E-G
Other popular chord progressions include I-V-vi-IV-I, ii-I-V, and much, much more.
Do You Need a Teacher to Learn Rock Piano?
If you can already read notes, read chord notation, or have already played rock guitar for a period of time, you can probably teach yourself the basics of rock piano on your own. You will understand how to interpret instructional videos, how to digest blogs, or how to work through a music method book on your own.
However, if you have no musical background whatsoever, you will save so much time working with a knowledgeable music teacher. We can’t recommend it enough.
To be a competent rock musician, you will need to learn basic music theory, keyboard technique, more advanced things like fills, slides, and improvisation on the blues scale, and so much more. You will probably spend more time figuring out what you need to learn as much as you spend practicing these concepts.
Contact Soundcheck Rock Academy to get started with our rock band experience – we offer singing lessons in Columbia, MD and many other music lessons to kids and adults.