This is our second article on piano fingering. If you have not read the first article on this topic, then we suggest you start here: Piano fingering.

Piano fingering is important in becoming a skilled piano player. While there is no wide consensus on the “correct” fingering method, few instructors will deny that bad fingering will lead to playing that is awkward, so learning good fingering techniques is important for those who wish to improve their playing no matter which school of thought they are in.

Some instructors advocate a “strict” and “correct” fingering pattern that follows some general fingering rules, whereas others will recommend a more “free flowing” approach, whereby the piano player moves their fingers in a manner that is natural to them and unhidden by the burden of getting everything absolutely perfect. Neither one of these approaches is better than the other. New players would probably do well to learn some of the generally accepted “rules” (which are not in any way set in stone). As a player increases their skill he or she can then “break the rules” and play in a manner that is less restrictive.

For now we will consider that you are relatively new and still learning and so offer a couple more tips on fingering. This is far from exhaustive and is simply to present some ideas. It should supplement a more structured lesson plan like the Pianoforall course, which takes your through fingering techniques over a series of lessons.

It is important to keep in mind that the “correct” fingering may vary from composition to composition. In many classical pieces, a slight change in fingering can cause a major disruption to the whole phrasing of the piece. On the other hand for pieces that are less strict that have more scope for improvisation, fingering is far less critical. In fact many top piano players use different fingering depending on their mood at the time when they play improvisations within a piece of music. The mood of the song and the pace of rhythm can also have a bearing on the finger combinations used on the piano.

Another thing you may notice in sheet music is that different editors will have different fingering arrangements (where it is included) for similar pieces of music, or for the same song, so “correct” or “proper” fingering can usually be considered arbitrary. While some music editors prefer the second finger more often, others have a tendency toward the third, so in summary, if you are improvising to music, the correct fingering is not so critical. You should still learn the rules, like those mentioned in the other article, which ensure a smooth flow in a piece of music for the most part, but you do not need to be 100% rigid in sticking to these rules. Too much rigidity will cause you to over-think which can lead to bad sounding music. It is the final sound that you produce that is important after all!

Piano playing can become over complicated when you are trying to balance too much, playing with both of your hands, pedal timing, while thinking about rhythm and finger position. While it is good to learn good technique, the end result should be to get to a level where you don’t have to think too hard. Otherwise making music will be no fun at all!

 

One of the easiest way to get started for those who wish to learn how to play piano is to practice playing piano chords to songs. Most sheet music you are likely to have seen will print the chords, usually above the melody line. There are literally hundreds of possible chord combinations that can be played on piano, but most songs are made up of a main group of important chords.

If you’re looking for a quick piano chord reference, then feel free to check out our chord charts that we offer for free:

You can either learn chords as part of a structured piano course like the Pianoforall course which builds up your knowledge of chords over a structured series of exercises, or you can find some sheet music to a song you like and play the chords along with the song. We’ve provided some examples of songs for beginners on our page of easy songs to learn on pian and we will add fresh new piano songs that are easy to play to the category of the same name, found here from time to time, but you can basically play along to any sheet music you like that has the chords printed on it.

Some of the main chords are major, minor, diminished and augmented chords and there are useful chord inversions to wrap your head around too. It is quite possible that you are overwhelmed by all the possible chord combinations to learn, but just because there are so many should not discourage you from getting started on them right away.

Learning the major chords is the easiest place for most beginners to start. Chords are based on scales and so the major chords are all based on major scales. C-Major is arguably the easiest of the majors because all of the C-Scale notes are white keys. The major scale pattern (use Piano Chords and Scales Explained as a reference for scales) is W-W-H-W-W-W-W-H (where W = whole step and H = half step). A major chord can have more than three notes in it, but most of the time only three notes are played in chords. The root position for C-major is then: C (root=thumb), E (middle=third), G (end=fifth). You play the beginning note, which is “C”, skip a step and play the next step, skip a half step and play the next step.

While the “inverted” version of this chord may be a bit advanced if you are a beginner,I will briefly explain it for clarity. It is possible to play the C-major chord differently to this. You could say start with E, play the note G with your 3rd and the note C, the next octave up with your fifth finger. Chord inversions are convenient for chord transitions where it’s desirable for your hand to be close to the previous chord. They will sound slightly different, but will “work” just as well as the chord played in the root position in a song. This is why it is useful to learn and practice chord inversions for all the major chords, but don’t worry about that yet. Just stick to the basics for now.

It is possible to make up chords from any scale. If you know the sequence of the notes in the scale then you can easily make up a corresponding chord. Two other major chords that use all white keys are F and G. They are easy like the C Major chord using the one-three-five sequence.

Chords D, E and A are also fairly straight forward if you remember that your middle (3rd) finger plays a black key on the keyboard. The root (1st) and 5th play white notes like C, F and G. The next three major chords are opposite to the previous group. The Db, Eb and Ab chords require you to put your fingers on black keys for the 1st and 5th positions, while the 3rd is a white note. The chords Gb (or F#) is a chord that is played using only black keys, while the B major and Bb major are a bit trickier. B is white for its root, black for the 3rd and black for it’s 5th. Bb is the exact opposite, it’s root is black, while it’s 3rd and 5th are white.

The next most important group of chords are the minors. These are gloomier sounding chords, which are played the same way as major chords except the middle note played a half-step down. So for C minor you play C-Eb-G instead of C-E-G. If you know the minor scale you can derive this chord pattern from the scale. When counting steps and half steps, you need to remember that for a minor scale, the third step is a half step lower, so the chord is: the beginning note, W, H, W, W, W for the first five notes.

It will likely take you a long time before you have mastered all of the important chords on the piano, but by expanding your chord repetoir you will be able to add additional material to the list of songs you have the ability to play. It becomes much easier the more you learn too, so don’t be put off if it all seems too overwhelming at first.