Learn Amazing Grace Chords
Let’s learn how to play “Amazing Grace” using chords.
But first, get your chord chart copies below in the keys of C, G, D, A and E major:
What Is a Chord Chart?
People use chord charts to play chords instead of notated music on the musical staff. Chord charts are really fun to play, because they leave so much room for creativity!
Here’s how a chord chart looks in the key of C:
Title & Authors
The title and author(s) are at the top.
The key of the song is in the right-hand corner. (“Keys” are groups of notes used to write songs. Songs written in the “Key of C” used the notes of the C major scale to write the song.)
The verses are labeled next. This song doesn’t have a chorus or bridge, but if it did, those would also be labeled.
Next are the lyrics, with the chord symbols above them. Chord symbols indicate which chords to play.
How to Play a Chord Chart
There are different types of chord symbols to indicate different types of chords.
An upper-case letter indicates a major chord.
An upper-case letter followed by a lower-case “m” indicates a minor chord.
There are other types of chord symbols, but for this song, the only other chord is the “6” chord. The 6 chord means to play a major chord, adding the sixth note of the matching major scale.
Chord charts don’t show the individual notes of a song or the timing. They just show chords lined up with lyrics. This can seem intimidating, but it can be a lot of fun once you get the hang of it.
Chord symbols are played at the point where they line up with the lyric of the song. You’ll need to be familiar with the song so you could sing along, either aloud or in your head, lining up the chord with that particular part of the lyric.
It may be helpful to use a metronome at first. Chords are generally played on the beat (meaning the chord is played at the same time the metronome “clicks”).
Bringing it Together
Since chord charts don’t show the melody, you’re not usually playing the melody with a chord chart (though it can be added in by ear). Chord charts work great for providing support for vocalists, or for leaving lots of room for improvisational solo piano.
The simplest way to start playing a chord chart is to play the chords in their root positions with the right hand, and to play the matching octave with the left hand (a “C” octave would be two “C’s” at the same time).
So if your right hand is playing a C major chord, the left hand can play a C octave at the same time. You can repeat the chords/octaves on the beat, as you choose, until the symbol changes.
Once you’re comfortable playing the chords in their root positions, matching the octave with the left hand, you can start playing inversions with your right hand. This is where the music starts to take on new life! You can play these inversions both on and off the beat (“off the beat” means “between” beats – you can use a metronome to help you at first).
After you get good at that, you can start playing both block and broken chords.
Block chords are when the notes of a chord are played all at the same time.
Broken chords are when the notes of a chord are played separately. You can break up a chord in many different ways. You could play the first two notes of the chord, then the third note. Or you could play the first note of the chord, then the last two. Or you could play each note separately.
If you really want to get advanced, take your inversions, and play them using both block and broken chord patterns with your right hand!
The left hand can continue playing octaves, or it can play something simple, like the upper and lower note of the matching chord.
It’s really fun to experiment with these different options, and the more you practice, the easier it gets!
I hope you enjoy using these chord charts to play this wonderful song! There’s so much room for personal expression and creativity in a chord chart.