Fingering Chords



Below you'll find descriptions of the best way for fingering chords on the piano keyboard. These finger patterns work for all triads, whether using white or black keys. These chord fingerings are good to know because they are "standard" fingerings and are used in chord positions and in melodies.

We'll show you the best way for playing triads in root position, first inversion, second inversion and octave chords.



Fingering Chords in Root Position

Fingering Chords in Root Position diagram

When playing triads in root position, the left hand finger #5 (pinky) plays the root, the #3 finger plays the 3rd, and #1 plays the fifth of the triad. In the "C" triad above, 5 plays "C," 3 plays "E," and 1 plays "G."

In the right hand, finger #1 (thumb) plays the root, the 3rd finger plays the third of the chord, and the 5th finger plays the fifth. In the "C" triad above, 1 plays "C," 3 plays "E," and 5 plays "G."

These fingerings are valid for major and minor triads.


Fingering Chords in First Inversion

Fingering Chords in First Inversion Diagram

A triad in first inversion has the order of notes changed so that the root of the chord has moved to the top. The third of the triad is now the lowest note, and the fifth is in the middle.

In the left hand, finger #5 plays the third of the chord, #3 plays the fifth and #1 plays the root.

In the right hand, finger #1 plays the third of the chord, #2 plays the fifth and #5 plays the root.

Again, these fingerings are valid for major and minor triads.


Fingering Chords in Second Inversion

Fingering Chords in Second Inversion Diagram

A triad in second inversion has the order of notes changed so that the third of the chord has moved to the top. The fifth of the triad is now the lowest note, and the root is in the middle.

In the left hand, finger #5 plays the fifth of the chord, #2 plays the root and #1 plays the third.

In the right hand, finger #1 plays the fifth of the chord, #3 plays the root and #5 plays the third.

And once more, these fingerings are valid for major and minor triads.



Fingering Octave Chords

C Chord Octave Fingering diagram

Octave chords are often used to make chords sound "bigger," and melodies often have notes following the octave chord up or down. Above is a C major octave triad in root position.

The left hand #5 plays the root, #4 plays the third, #2 plays the fifth, and #1 plays the octave.

The right hand #1 plays the root, #2 plays the third, #3 plays the fifth, and #5 plays the octave.


More About Inversions

If you haven't already read this page about chord inversions, you should check it out!
More About Chord Inversions


Return from Fingering Chords to How to Play Piano





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