Let me paint you a scenario: you’re about to take piano lessons, or have just started, and you’re excited to learn more. You think you can do this. You have this really amazing song you want to learn how to play on the piano, but unfortunately, it uses a Bb chord.
And you have no idea what that is, let alone how to play it.
No worries! We’ve all started somewhere. In this article, I’m going to provide you step-by-step instructions (and images) to not only help learn how to play a B flat piano chord, but also understand what it is and exactly how it works.
Bb Piano Chord – Right Hand
To learn how to play a B flat (Bb) chord on the piano, everyone is going to start with their right hand, and then we’ll move on to the left.
Fingering is an important part of learning the piano, and it gives you a strong foundation for learning harder pieces. It’s possible to play pieces well with the incorrect fingering, but it makes it harder as you progress.
Fingering starts with assigning each finger a number; the numbers are the same on both hands, though this diagram is for the right hand only. The thumb will be 1, the pointer finger 2, and so on, as seen below.
Let’s look at a keyboard to figure out where everything goes. The keyboard below has the keys labeled for you with each note that we saw on the staff to give you an idea of how they connect:
Some of you may have noticed that one of the black keys (above) is labeled. Since it’s the only one we’ll need today, we’ll save the theory behind sharps and flats for another day. For now, all you need to know is that to flat a note (in this case, B), it’s going to make it one black or white key back. Since B is on a white key, most of the time, the key to the left is going to be black: that’s B flat (Bb), the root of the chord we’re learning today.
To play a Bb chord, you’ll need fingers 1, 3, and 5. Your thumb, finger number 1, is going to go on B flat, which is the black key labeled below. Your middle finger (3) is going to go on D, which is the third white key to the right of Bb, and your pinkie finger (5) is going to go on F, two white keys to the right of D.
Here’s a diagram to help:
If you have a keyboard or a piano in front of you, go ahead and try arranging your fingers and playing the chord.
Now, you may be wondering (or have wondered in the past): what’s the difference between a chord vs note? Well, the key concept behind a chord versus a note is that all three of these notes are played together instead of one at a time.
Go ahead and arrange your hand with fingers one, three, and five resting on their designated notes; you can let two and four hover in the air, away from the keys, since you won’t need them.
Now that you’re in position, press down on all three fingers touching the keys at once.
Did you hear it? If so, great job!
Feel free to practice it a few more times before we move on to the left hand.
Bb Piano Chord – Left Hand
Now that you know how to play with the right hand, we simply just apply the same knowledge on different fingers for the left hand!
Now, depending on which hand is your dominant, using your non-dominant hand may take a bit of extra practice. I’m right-handed, and it took me a lot longer to play even chords in my left hand than it did my right, because I didn’t practice with my left as much growing up.
As I mentioned earlier, the fingering is the same on both hands: the thumb is always going to be 1, the pointer finger is always going to be 2, and so on. Because of this, the fingering on the keyboard is going to look backwards:
You’re still playing the same notes, but it’s going to look backwards from your right hand. Your pinkie will be resting on Bb, your pointer finger on D, and your thumb on F.
Go ahead and practice it the same way you did the right hand and press all the notes together— especially if you’re right hand-dominant. Try to get a feel for it, as it may be uncomfortable at first.
- You also might enjoy: 7 Best Piano Finger Exercises for Beginners
Practice with Both Hands Now
Pianos use repeating segments of notes that sound higher as they go to the right and lower as they go to the left. Put your lower hand on a Bb, D, and F combination on the left side of the keyboard (it doesn’t matter which) and your right hand on a Bb, D, and F combination on the right side of the keyboard.
Here’s an extended diagram to help you:
Now try to play them both at the same time.
Did you do it? It’s a pretty full sound, isn’t it? There you go! You can officially play a Bb chord on both hands. You’re one step further along in your piano learning journey!
How To Read a Bb Chord in Music
To play a Bb chord, you need to know which notes go where on a keyboard, and how to read them on a staff. If the piece of music you have just gives you instructions to play a B flat chord, you’re all set! If it’s actually written in the music on a staff, here’s a quick lesson to help you out.
For those of you just starting out, it’s quite possible that you don’t know much about music or piano theory. That’s totally fine, but it’s a good idea to have a basic understanding of some things before you start playing chords; this will make things a lot easier when you go to start reading and learning more complicated pieces.
Let’s start with the basics: you read music by looking at notes on a staff. A staff is made of five lines and four spaces, and each represents a note. Notes, which are given names, let you know what key to press on a piano or what note to play on any other instrument. It looks like this:
This helps keep all the notes in line, so they’re easier to read. Let’s forget about rhythms for a second and use whole notes as an example (whole notes are the notes with no stem that are open in the middle).
Here’s what it looks like with notes on a staff:
See how each note is on one line or in one space? That tells you which note to play. Notes are symbols representing a musical sound, and are labeled by the letters of the alphabet A through G. Once you go all the way through those, it loops back around to A, and repeats; the same is true for going backwards.
Below is a new graphic with labeled notes, so you see what I mean:
You can go up past the top of the staff forever on a loop, or down past the bottom forever on a loop, and the sound keeps getting higher or lower.
Now let’s look and see what a chord might look like.
Chords are different because, as I mentioned earlier, they use multiple notes (usually three or more) together instead of playing one note at a time. Here’s a diagram (below) to show you what a Bb chord may look like on a treble clef (which is what we’ve been using in the above diagrams) and a bass clef:
The treble clef is the “swirly thing” (for lack of a better word) right at the beginning (far left), and the bass clef is the backwards C with the dots next to it. Now a clef helps you know what notes go where on the staff. You can tell that this is a Bb chord because the notes are stacked on top of each other in their basic form, rather than spread out.
The little b next to the B note makes the note flat, or a little lower than a normal B.
Don’t Become Overwhelmed
It’s okay if this doesn’t make sense right away. I’ve given you a lot of information—it’s okay if you don’t remember it all!
This is just to give you a bit of a foundation to learn some basic music theory. Remember that we all learn at our own pace, and repetition is extremely helpful in reinforcing newly learned ideas.
So, while practice won’t make you perfect, it will make you better.
While you’ve been given a lot of information today, I hope you’re able to walk away from this article with a much better understanding of how to play a B flat piano chord. Chords are some of the most important parts of music—they add the foundation for the melody and a “fullness” to the sound. Plus, they’re just so fun to play—well, once you get the hang of it!
If this is the first chord you’ve ever learned, or the second, or fifth, you’re well on your way to learning how to play harder music on the piano.
Don’t get discouraged. Just get more curious!
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