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Piano Finger Techniques

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Playing Simple Piano Chords
Piano chords on the staff.

The first chord is seen with an arpeggio.

Image © Brandy Kraemer

Piano Chord Fingering


Chords won’t always be fingered, but there are some standard hand formations to use when playing them. A chord’s fingering will almost always be the same for either hand, only reversed (more on left hand piano fingering).

How to Play Simple Piano Chords

  1. Triad chords in root position are most often formed with fingers 1-3-5.

  2. Tetrad (4-note) chords are formed with fingers 1-2-3-5, but the formation 1-2-4-5 is also acceptable.

  3. Larger chords test the flexibility of your fingers, so hand formation is ultimately up to you. Use discretion; consider the notes or chords that follow, and make sure you’ll be able to strike them efficiently.

Play the above song slowly, using these fingering guidelines. Take your time, and practice until you are comfortable playing it with a steady tempo.

  • Tip: A 3/4 time signature holds 3 quarter-note beats per measure. To get the rhythm down, count one-two-three, one-two-three.

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