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Piano Fingering for the Left Hand

Learn How to Play Piano Chords and Scales With the Left Hand


How to play bass piano scales.

The A minor scale on the bass staff.

Image © Brandy Kraemer

Left Hand Piano Fingering

Piano fingering for the left hand is similar to right hand fingering, as you can see from the basic rules:

  1. Fingers are numbered 1-5; the thumb is always 1, and the little finger is 5.

  2. Fingers 1 and 5 should be kept off accidentals whenever possible.

  3. After playing black keys, aim to land on a white key with your thumb or pinky. This technique goes for both ascending and descending scales, played by either hand.

Left Hand Piano Scale Fingering

The left hand often plays rhythm in piano music; but you will play many left-handed melodies and arpeggios. Practice the following finger techniques to target dexterity in the left hand:

  • In ascending scales, the 3rd or 4th finger crosses over the thumb. Look at picture #1, above: This happens between the E and F in the first measure.

  • In descending scales, the thumb crosses under the 3rd or 4th finger. You can see this in the third measure between the G and the F.

Try It: Practice the fingering for the A minor scale above (view full scale).

Left Hand Piano Chord Fingering

Fingering for piano bass chords is just like fingering for treble chords, except the numbers are inverted:

  • Triads (three-note chords) are formed using fingers 5-3-1.

    There are exceptions: The formation 5-2-1 is used when a chord demands a wide finger span. This can be seen in an A minor chord in the second inversion.

    Another exception involves accidentals. Just like in scales, fingers 2-3-4 are best for black keys. Therefore, if a triad began with an accidental, it would also begin with the 4th finger: A D major triad in the first inversion – whose notes are F#-A-D – is played with the fingering 4-2-1.

  • Tetrads (four-note chords) are formed using fingers 5-3-2-1.

    Tetrad chords follow the same rules (and exceptions) as triads; and, like with triads, you should adjust tetrad fingering for the sake of efficiency. For example, if you need finger 3 for another note, use the 5-4-2-1 position instead.

Continue This Lesson:

Right Hand Piano Fingering    | ► Essential Scale & Chord Fingering
                                                   | ► Beginner Practice Scales With Fingering

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