How To Play Gospel for Beginners


If you're looking to learn how to play gospel for beginners on piano, here you'll find an outline of the basics or essential information you need to learn to get playing.

We're going to start out with the bare minimum that you need to know so that you can play for yourself, others singing with you, or for church. 

Essential Information You Need To Know to Play Gospel (Video)


The First Thing You Need To Know:
Piano Chords

The basic thing you need to know to learn how to play gospel for beginners is piano chords. This also applies to those who have learned to read music but not read piano chords

If you know chords, you can really get away with not knowing much else. It's a bit like playing guitar, you can accompany yourself or others. 

(If you're not sure what piano chords are, check out the What Are Piano Chords page.)

Generally, gospel music comes to us in two ways, a chord or lead sheet or written music - this is especially true for hymns. 

Nearly everything however, can be written out as a chord or lead sheet. You can often find hymns written for piano with a melody line and chords above this. 

The First Chords You Need To Learn

In the beginning, you need to learn two types of chords, major and minor chords. 

With these types of chords, you can make your way through nearly anything. Even if you're supposed to play a different type of chord, you can start with these as they are the foundations of most of the other chords. 

For any chord that has a "m", play a minor chord (just in the beginning). For the others, you can play a major chord. 

The only ones this really won't work for is diminished (dim) and augmented (aug). Just skip past those, they are quite rare anyway. (You can play the chord you were playing before it.)

You can check out the chord chart page here which lists all the major and minor.

After the majors and the minors, you can next learn suspended and 7th (as in dominant 7th, ex C7) and then go on from there. 

Skills To Begin To Learn

Playing By Ear

Playing by ear is a great skill to learn to pick up. You may think this comes naturally to people and they just have a gift, but really this is something you learn, the same as everything else in piano. 

There are two main things you learn here. 

1. Learning to hear different types of chords, playing the chords within a key and even learning to learn to hear chord progressions is great!

2. Learning to pick out melody to add in with chords and create intros is really handy - especially if you want to play with anyone who sings. 

Learning to play by ear is really a great thing for piano beginners to practice. 

Learning To Read Music - At Least Treble Clef

Learning to read music or at least the treble clef, is really handy.

You don't need to do this, but it's ideal. Lots of times you can get chord sheets with a melody written out and the chords on top. (Check out Song Select by CCLI.) This helps you both learn the rhythm and melody of a song. It also can make it sound nice. 

Using written music for your intros and outros can be handy also - especially if you need to play for church. 

If you want to play hymns, I'd highly recommend learning to read music. It can really work much better as they are written as music first rather than written as chords first. They are more complex. 

Learning Key Signatures

Learning key signatures is another important thing to learn for beginners wanting to play gospel. 

You don't need to learn it right away but they are important. 

Key signatures will:

  • give context to your chords
  • help you to know which chords to play together
  • let you know which black notes to play when playing melody or embellishing
  • help you to take chords from one key to another (and have it still sound right).

If you want to learn more about key signatures, you can start here

Next Steps

The next step you need to take to learn to play gospel is up to you as it depends on what you know already. 

If you haven't gotten my Utlimate Chord Cheat Sheet (it's free), you can get that just below. I've created a little group by email also who are getting emails for this gospel piano topic. (You'll be able to join that by getting the cheat sheet). 

Free Download:

Ultimate Chord Cheat Sheet

Ultimate Chord Cheat Sheet

Subscribe below and get free access to the (printable) Ultimate Chord Cheat Sheet.

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    Free Download:

    Ultimate Chord Cheat Sheet

    Ultimate Chord Cheat Sheet

    Subscribe below and get free access to the (printable) Ultimate Chord Cheat Sheet.

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