Basic Chord Practice For The Piano
By: Jerry A. Greene
Question: Could you give me some ideas for how to learn and practice basic chords on the piano?
Answer: Practicing your basic chord structures on the piano is not overly difficult, when you use the visualization techniques described below.
Root Position Chords
The basic chords should first be learned in the root position. This means that the letter name of the chord is the bottom key being played. For example, a C Major chord has the notes C E G. Being played in this order gives you root position. The notes in this order:
The 3 Flat Chords
Now when I say "flat", I don't mean flat as in sharp, or flat, but instead mean chords that have all white keys. They all feel the same to your hand. This concept makes more sense as you read the rest of this article. The visualization you can use for this is a straight line, or something laying flat. The chords that are played this way are:
The 3 Triangle Chords
These chords have your two outer fingers on a white key, but with the middle finger up on a sharp. Visualize a triangle:
The 3 Upside-Down Triangle Chords
These chords feel like the opposite of the 3 triangle chords that we learned in the last example. They have the two outer fingers on sharps, but with the middle finger down on a white key. Visualize this as an upside-down triangle:
The 2 Tilted Chords
These two chords are sort of the oddballs of the group. In the first one: Bb Major, the bottom finger is up on the Bb with the other two fingers down on the white keys. The opposite is true for the B Major, where the bottom finger is down on the B and the other two are up on the Sharps:
The 1 All-Black Keys Chord
The one major chord that uses all black keys is the F# Major chord: Similar to the "flat" chords above, it feels like a straight line, but lifted up. Matter of fact, if you practice this one while going from the F Major Chord, to the F# Major and finally the G Major chord, you'll feel it is very easy to do, since the hand stays in the same "shape".
Practicing Your Basic Piano Chords
The first step is to learn each group of chords through the visualizations. Once you have them down, you will want to try these three exercises: