Star Shopping Piano Letters
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If you’re learning how to play the piano, this is a beautiful piece that’s both beginner-friendly and challenging enough to be rewarding. It’s in C major, so you don’t have to worry about sharps and flats. It sounds authentic even at a slower tempo. Last but not least, an iconic ballad penned by one of pop music’s greatest songwriters.
Star Shopping Piano Letters
On your left, play C and F two octaves below middle C. These notes act as anchor notes. Your right hand will play an octave below middle C. We have written these notes in bass clef to make it easier to visualize.
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In the first step, you may notice that we are mainly playing a C major triad (C-E-G). But we alternate between the top two notes (E and G) and the root note C.
Then, we move to an F chord. On our left, we’ll play the bass note, F. On the right side, we will oscillate between F-A and C.
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In the pre-chorus section, we continue to use the same rocking motion, but the chords become a little more complex. Here’s the progress:
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If this sounds daunting and complicated, don’t worry! For starters, you already know the F chord. It played a little differently in the right hand. The top notes are A-C and the bottom note is F.
Am/E and Am/C are slash chords. A slash chord is when you play the chord before the slash in your right hand and the note after the slash in your left hand.
For Am/E, this means we play E in the left hand and oscillate between A-C and E in the right hand.
“F/C” is actually a typo (oops!) – this chord should be Am/C. That means we play C with the left hand and oscillate between A-C and E with the right.
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Now, what about the Dm7 chord in between? Dm7 is a seventh chord – a jazzy type of chord that contains the notes D-F-A-C. On your left, you’ll play D. On your right, you’ll alternate between F-C and D.
🔥🎹 HOT TIP! Learning slash chords and inversions will expand your chord vocabulary and allow you to play even basic songs with unique timbres.
Then, close the part with two G chords, one in second inversion and one in root position. that’s all!
You may notice that your left hand is playing a descending scale. Don’t be afraid to isolate this section, practice it slowly several times before moving on – the chord changes in this section are a little fast, so it may require some extra practice.
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The chorus begins with a very simple F chord followed by a G chord. Notice how the right hand goes from F-A to A-C on the F chord.
The G chord is a basic G triad: G on the left, alternating between B-D and G on the right.
Then, we move to a C major chord, and there’s a short turn at the end, where we add a B. Give it some extra practice to make it easier. Slow down the tempo if you want.
This segues us nicely into an E major chord. E Major contains the notes E-G#-B, so watch out for that G sharp!
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The following is an E7 chord. An E7 chord is E-G#-B-D. That extra D (the seventh note in the E major scale) gives the song an extra touch of color. It’s a testament to John Lennon’s talent as a songwriter.
Then, this measurement repeats itself! Note the natural sign (♮) of the next G – this means that this G is not sharpened.
🔥🎹 HOT TIP! Once you understand your basic triads, it’s time to learn seventh chords. Seventh chords add color, depth and an extra kick to music and are widely used in pop and jazz.
Although it’s a slow, steady tune, iconic moments — like that chromatic ascent — give it plenty of intrigue.
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Practice a lot to make this song sound tight, and you’ll gain an important life skill as a piano player.
Remember: There’s no shame in taking things slow! You can use a metronome, set it to a slow tempo, and then gradually increase the speed.
If you struggle with certain transitions, isolate those sections and practice them. Don’t practice the song from beginning to end over and over again. Being specific about what you are practicing is more efficient and effective.
You can also use a recording of the track as a reference. This will help your ear training, the more you know a song, the easier it will be to practice.
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The piano John Lennon used to write “Imagine” on display at the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix, AZ. (Source: Dave Fay via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY 2.0)
Finally, here is a video of me (Jordan) playing the song in its entirety. Remember, just because a song sounds simple doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot to learn. Happy practicing!
Jordan Leibel is passionate about songwriting, improvisation and helping you become a creative musician! He has worked as a composer for film, commercial and theater projects, as well as a session musician and producer for recording work.
Charmaine Li / Chording Chording 101: Everything You Need to Know About Piano Chords Chords are where it’s at! By understanding piano chords, you’ll unlock hundreds, if not thousands, of songs.
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