How To Play 4 Different Major Jazz Piano Chords

major piano chordsAre you sick and tired of playing generic piano chords?

Do you find yourself playing chords the same old way whenever they come up in a chord chart?

If so, then this jazz piano lesson was designed for you!

In today’s lesson we’re going to take a look at 4 unique ways of playing major jazz piano chords. (video lesson, notation, and tips below.)

Let’s get starting learning! (Start by watching the video below that I’ve created for you. Then, scroll down for extra tips and notation.) 

6 Tips To Help You Learn These Piano Chords

1. Each of these chords are built by starting with 3 fundamental chord tones. (Root, 3rd, & 7th).

Then we add 1 or 2 “color note” or “extensions”. These would be either the 9th, the #11, or the 13th of a chord.

2. Make sure you pay close attention to what the top note is of each chord. Although, these chords will work in most musical situations there are times when they may interfere with the melody of a song.

3. The best way to learn any new chord you learn is to immediately apply it to a song or a chord progression you love.  Don’t wait…do it right now. 🙂

jazz piano lessons onlineThat’s exactly why we explore hundreds of awesome chords & apply them to real songs in the Premium Jazz Lessons Elite Membership Course.

4. It’s important that you learn these chords in all your keys. You’ll want access to them in all kinds of different songs. I promise this will help. You’ll thank me later! 🙂

5.Each chord has it’s own unique color and sound to it. So, it’s always best to use your ear as a guide in regards to when is an appropriate time to play them. 

6. If you’re more of a beginner and looking for some simpler chords than check out this easy jazz piano chords lesson.

Why You Should Learn These Piano Chords

By adding these chords into your bag of tricks you’ll be able to express yourself much better and bring a whole new layer of interest to your music.

Also, the great news is you’ll be able to use these jazz piano chords for songs in a variety of other music styles as well (not just jazz).

Notation For This Jazz Piano Lesson

Piano Chords

(click to expand)

More Jazz Piano Chord Resources

If you enjoy the sounds of these chords then you’ll absolutely love this Bill Evans chord lessonthis lesson on how to play Autumn Leaves chordsthis jazz blues piano chord lesson, and this minor jazz chords lesson as well..

Update On Why You Play Jazz

I’d like to thank all the readers who took the time to responded to our last article Why do you play jazz?

The answers so far have been simply amazing! We’ve had over 32 people respond and comment so far on this one! Unreal. 🙂

If you haven’t read the article yet I strongly encourage you to. Have a great day! 🙂


– If you this lesson has helped you please leave a comment below and share it with your friends! 

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  • Dan

    OK, I have been following (and LEARNING from) your videos for a while now. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate and enjoy your lessons. 
    So I guess I am just being curious here. What motivates you to do all this work without any tangible compensation – financial or otherwise – in return? I mean, in very short time you have become one of my true heroes, but I would still like to know where you find your a) inspiration; b) energy;  and c) what is your main goal/purpose in doing all this “pro bono” work? 

    It’s really not important… I just woke up one day with these questions on my mind! 

    • Thanks for your kind words Dan! I’m humbled!
      My inspiration and motivation comes from helping people and sharing music. It’s fun man.
      I try to contribute to the world the best way I know how.

      I’m a jazz musician, I like to teach, I like building communities, and I’m an internet geek. So, in a nutshell I think the universe has required me to create this site 🙂

  • Frank

    Great lesson as always keeping it simpleand easy to understand.Thank you Steve.

  • Jazzmeup1st

    I am just blown away by the simplicity in understanding the concepts you introduce with each lesson. Jazz language has always been one difficult to understand, let alone express musically. You have given us a way to comprehend and start speaking this language in a way that captures what we’ve all been yearning to do for a loooong time.

  • Angel Palmeras

    Hi Steve,

    I’m very much interested in your role as a music educator, how do you carry this?  What does it consist of?  Could you give us a link to these activities?

  • Stephen

    Hi Steve! Great lessons man! Thanks for sharing you knowledge. I am a trumpet player and I wanted understand chords better so this lesson and others like are great, I would like to know about the fingering of chords? In this lesson you use the left hand for the root and invert the rest of the spelling. Is this the basic way to fingering chord voicing?

  • number9

    Thanks .I’m new to this site any i find it one of the best on the net.L.c smith /Vancouver B.c

  • Juan Alfredo Jacobson

    Thanks for your time and experience. From Mexico with my best wishes.

  • Bharat

    My 1st online learning , a great surprise. As I have started learning piano 6 months back after 25 years of professional Indian music rhythm programming. I must say one thing that the real enjoyment has just started. Up till now was only one section, rhythm. Hope to explore more and more.
    Thank you so much for all your affords.

    • Hi Bharat,
      Glad to hear you’re enjoying the lessons. I think many of these chords would sound excellent if you mixed together Indian rhythms with them. What a cool concept 🙂

  • goldenbuddha

    hi, steve. my name is buddha from beijing china. I’m sorry my english in not good. but I know u r good teacher. i like u r Lesson.

    • Thank you for your kind words and nice to meet you Buddha. Thanks for saying hi. Welcome to the community we have here!

  • Wouter

    Hi Steve,

    Thankyou for your introductionary video about major chords.

    I am somewhat stuck however.

    I’m wondering as I try to recreate your Maj7#11 chords in differend keys where I go wrong.

    Cmaj7#11 = C + F# and B and E ( Fis is the 11th, I get that)…..check

    Fmaj7#11 = F + B and E and A ( B is the 11th but shouldn’t it be raised with half a note to #11th like in Cmaj7#11?)

    Esmaj7#11 = Es + A and D and G (A is the 11th but shouldn’t it be raised to A# like in previous example?)
    Could you tell me what I’m doing wrong?

    • Hi Wouter. You wrote Es for your chord symbol which doesn’t really exist in the US. So, I’m not 100% sure I understand what you’re asking. I think I can help anyway. If you’re referring to Emaj7 than the notes would be A#, D# and G#. If your’e referring to Ebmaj7 than the nots would be A, D, G. Hope that helps!

      • Wouter

        Hi Steve, sorry about the confusion. I meant Ebmaj7#11. Still not sure why the 11th should be A.
        Counting half steps from Eb to A gets me to the 11th but why shouldn’t the A be raised another half step to become #11?

        I am trying to use your first example Cmaj7#11 for my reasoning to get the 11th: C to F# is 3 and a half step, right?

        Hope I’m making some sense. Thanx in advance for replying.

  • Commenting from near Sydney, Australia <3 Thanks for the great site – going to sit and work out some chords! xx

    • Awesome Sandy! Have fun exploring. Hope you’re enjoying Sydney.

      • I was honestly very encouraged. Ended up finally finishing and mastering my newest single. So thank you! I was able to add some beautiful piano trills and passagios into the mix. If you’d like to hear it I can give you the url xx Thanks again and keep up the good work! You inspired a tired Muso down under 🙂

        • That’s what we’re trying to do here. That’s great to hear and I’m glad you were able to finish your song. A nice feeling when that happens for sure.

  • Assis Souza

    Hi, Steve! I love music, especially bossa nova and jazz. Thanks a lot for your free lessons. Your help is simply invaluable to him who wants to learn piano.

    • Hi Assis . Thank you for your kind words and happy to hear the lessons are useful for you. Welcome to the community.

  • Philippe Bouthemy

    Great lesson, I’m working it using the circle of fifth in order to know these voicings well. Is it a good method? By the way, Maj 6-9, Maj 7-13, Maj 7-11#, has a common point. It all uses triads of 4th, starting from the 7 th (Maj 7-13), the third (Maj 6-9), and the 11# (Maj 7-11#)! Nice tip on my opinion to help us to remember it…

    • Yes, that will work Philippe for a practice routine. Thanks for sharing your tip as well!

      Steve Nixon

      * *

  • Sir Baby De Porky

    Do you do short vids to show certain specifics , I guess on a hired
    basis ( unless you like to barter ?!? )