How to play Amazing Grace on the piano keyboard


How to play Amazing Grace on the piano keyboard - mastering songs

Following our popular Christmas carol piano tutorials we’re now taking a look at some other classic pieces of music that will sound great on the piano or keyboard, regardless of your skill level.

So, dive in and learn how to play Amazing Grace.

Amazing Grace: Introduction

Amazing Grace is an iconic hymn that nearly everyone knows. It’s not particularly difficult to play, and the wonderful thing is that it’s open to a lot of interpretation and creativity once you get the basic chord structure right.

We’ll look at:

  • the main melody line
  • a version with a very simple bass line
  • the basic chord structure (and a variation)
  • a few styles to whet your appetite at the creative possibilities

Amazing Grace: Main Melody

All of our examples are played in the key of F major [find out about major and minor chords]. This means one flat — B flat — to watch out for.

You might not feel as comfortable playing in F major as you do in, say, G major or C major. However, I’ve chosen this key as it makes the pitch for singing quite reasonable.

If you end up playing with other musicians, you could be asked to play in another key. If so, it’s definitely worth learning not just the actual chords and notes in this piece, but how they relate to one another. That way, it’s not such a wrench if having to transpose up and down a key or two.

(You may find our article How To Play Piano Using Chord Symbols useful if presented with a lead sheet (just the chords))

Here’s the melody written out in the treble clef in standard musical notation:

Amazing Grace sheet music melody score

Click the image for the full size version, or download a printable PDF version

Here’s how it sounds. (Your browser should play these MP3 files directly, or possibly software such as iTunes or Windows Media Player may handle it instead.)

Amazing-Grace-Single.mp3

Amazing Grace: Simple Bass Line

To add very basic harmony without making the piece much more complicated, we add a single bass note — one per bar — to be played with the left hand.

Here’s how it looks:

Amazing Grace sheet music bass line

Click here for the PDF

Here’s how it sounds: Amazing-Grace-single-bass.mp3

Amazing Grace: Right Hand Chords

Playing chords instead of melody (or possibly with other fill-in notes) is useful if you are singing or accompanying the melody, because it is less common to play a melody line that one or more vocalists are singing.

I’ve used fairly simple chords, and also ones that don’t require a great deal of movement in the right hand. It’s worth noting that this version includes a G major chord in first inversion (bar 7). This means a B natural note.

Amazing Grace sheet music chords score

Continued below...

(Click for the PDF)

Here’s what it sounds like: Amazing-Grace-right-hand-chords.mp3

Amazing Grace: Alternative Chords

Well, in fact just one alternative chord that gives a slightly different feel thanks to a new harmony. It’s that chord in bar 11. It’s changed from a repeated F major chord to an A diminished chord.

Amazing Grace sheet music chords score

Click here for PDF

Amazing-Grace-alt-right-hand-chords.mp3

Amazing Grace: Style Alternatives

OK, here’s where we have some fun. That chord structure and the simple melody is ripe for improvisation and playing around.

Here are three examples that I’ve put together. They’re not technically wonderful, and I’m sure you can do better, but they give you an idea of some things you can do.

Amazing Grace Variation 1

Amazing Grace sheet music variation 1

Click here for PDF

Amazing-Grace-variation-1-audio.mp3

Amazing Grace Variation 2

Amazing Grace sheet music variation 2

Click here for PDF

Amazing-Grace-variation-2-audio.mp3

Amazing Grace Variation 3

Amazing Grace sheet music variation 3

Click here for PDF

Amazing-Grace-variation-3-audio.mp3

Conclusion

There you go. A very basic introduction to playing Amazing Grace. Play it, learn it by heart, transpose it, play it the way you want to.

Most importantly, enjoy it.

If you find yourself needing to play Amazing Grace — or any other piece of music — as an accompaniment to a singer, you may find our article How to accompany a singer on piano: 15 tips useful.