Piano Chord Fingering – Which Fingers to Use When Playing Chords

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Piano Chord Fingering: How do you choose which fingers to use when playing a specific chord?

I was asked this question (on piano chord fingering) in one of my piano courses by a beginner.

Student Question: How do you choose which fingers to use when playing a specific chord?

My response:

Thanks for your question, (student name).

As a beginner, you can start by playing most three note chords with fingers 1, 3 and 5. Some piano chords can be more comfortably played with fingers 1, 2 and 4 or 1, 2 and 5. For chords that require a wider finger span, you can use fingers 1, 2 and 5 on the right and 5, 2 and 1 on the left hand.

Every hand is different, and some people have longer/shorter fingers than others. A child’s fingers for instance are much shorter. Unless it’s specified, you should play what feels most comfortable. But be sure to start the chord (especially those that start with white keys) with your thumb, and use 1-3-5, 1-2-4, and 1-2-5 fingerings as a guide.

As you progress, a lot changes. There is no specific rule as to what fingers go where. Strictly speaking, there is no right and wrong way to finger chords. It depends on various factors, like what chord comes before the chord you are playing and what chord comes after.

The chord, C major can be played with fingers 1, 3 and 5. But as you progress and you need to add notes to that chord and play more advanced chords, you will find yourself playing the C major chord with fingers, 1, 2 and 3, thus freeing up your other fingers to play additional notes. For example, a more advanced chord like a C7 chord which consists of the notes, C-E-G-Bb may be played with fingers 1, 2, 3 and 4, while a C major 7th chord which consists of the notes C-E-G-B may be played with fingers 1, 2, 3 and 5 since this feels more comfortable.

Piano chord fingering isn’t written in stone.

(End of answer)

Just in case you’re new to all of this and don’t know how your fingers are numbered, here’s a short video I made for you.

Piano Finger Numbers – Left and Right Hand 

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