Apps Software

What’s the best app for learning piano chords?

person playing piano
Hands on: Chordify lets you play along with almost any song you can name

If you’re learning piano and struggling to work out what to do with your left hand, you might be looking for an app to help learn piano chords. I’ve spent the past couple of years trying various apps to help me learn the piano, including Skoove, Musicnotes and others. However, the best app for learning piano chords that I’ve discovered so far is Chordify on iPad. Here’s why.

How Chordify works

The Chordify concept is brilliant. It takes pretty much any song you can find on YouTube and automatically creates the chord patterns for it. This is an entirely automated process – if you come across a song that hasn’t yet been ‘Chordified’, you can request that the chords are transposed and it does so, normally within a minute.

It’s not perfect. Chords are occasionally wrong, although they’re normally only slightly out and mistakes are usually easy to spot. The software sometimes struggles to spot the difference between an F and an F Minor chord, for example, which only differs by one key. However, if the chord has been F all the way through the song and it’s suddenly switched to F Minor, you can normally work it out. Chordify has a facility for reporting wrong chords, but you can’t correct scores yourself, unfortunately.

The other problem you’ll come across is songs being out of key, because the YouTube video is slightly too fast/slow. However, most popular songs have numerous versions on YouTube, so you can normally find one that works.

Chordify doesn’t only reveal the chords for each song, it shows you the fingering as you’re playing. A small thumbnail of the YouTube video appears in the bottom-right corner of the screen and the current chord is print large in the middle, showing novices like me where to place their fingers. You can pause, rewind or slow down the tempo of the song to practice the fingering.

You’ll find yourself picking up the chords incredibly quickly, because you’re bashing along to your favourite songs. I barely knew a chord six months ago, when I first subscribed (more on this below). Now, there’s barely a chord I don’t know how to play from memory when it appears in a song. Don’t get me wrong – I’m a long way for perfect on most songs, and Chordify only gives you the chords, not the right-hand melody. But I can now load up pretty much any song on Chordify and play along first time. I can’t tell you how enjoyable that is. My family might disagree.

Is it worth subscribing to Chordify?

You can use Chordify for free – and I strongly suggest new users do that – but you only get three songs per day. If you want unlimited access to songs, you’ll need to cough up an entirely reasonable £14.99 per year on the iPad.

That unlocks some other cracking features, such as the ability to export scores to PDF and print them off. Again, these scores aren’t always perfect and you only get the chords, but considering apps such as Musicnotes will cheerfully charge you a fiver or more for a PDF (that you can only print once or twice officially!), this is great value. And with the scores printed out, it’s pretty easy to correct small mistakes by hand.

Chordify subscribers can also export to MIDI, allowing you to import the MIDI files into software such as Cubase, Ableton or Logic and fiddle with them there. You can also import those MIDI files into GarageBand on the Mac, although seemingly not into the iPad app, which is a tad frustrating.

Subscribers also get the ability to play songs in offline mode, which is handy if your piano is out of Wi-Fi reach.

Overall, I absolutely love Chordify. It’s probably the best £15 I’ve spent this year and has given me hours of pleasure. Now I need something to teach me what to do with the right hand!

What is 8D music?

About the author

Barry Collins

Barry has scribbled about tech for almost 20 years for The Sunday Times, PC Pro, WebUser, Which? and many others. He was once Deputy Editor of Mail Online and remains in therapy to this day. Email Barry at barry@bigtechquestion.com.

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  • Hi! Chordify developer here. We are pleased to read such a positive opinion, thanks! Our website has a chord editor, you can fix wrong chords there. Just go to https://chordify.net and log in with the same email address you use on the iPad. Changes you make on web are then also visible on your iPad.

    • Thanks for the correction, although I can’t log in on the main site with my iPad email address, as that’s a relay address created by Apple. I have no account password for Chordify itself.

  • I was wrong about the chord edits. Chord edits from web are currently not shown in the apps.
    Indeed, accounts that use Apple sign-in only work with the iOS app.

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