Piano Chord Inversions Explained! Since piano chord inversions can feel super confusing, I made this video to clearly and simply explain how to think about it and how to practice it. You will learn the correct fingerings to use in both the right and left hands and I will show you a simple method to practice your chord inversions on piano.
This is part of my Piano for Singers series, where I teach the basics of piano playing so that you can create great accompaniments for yourself and your students. Enjoy!
Piano Chord Inversions Explained
When we rearrange the notes in a chord, we call these inversions. To invert the chord means to flip it around so that there is a different note on the bottom. I like to think of inverting chords a bit like the game Jenga – “take a block from the bottom and put it on top…”.
Since a triad has three notes, there are three different possibilities:
- Chord is in its natural state.
- Root on the bottom, 3rd in the middle, 5th on top.
- The lower interval is a major third (4 half steps), and the top interval is a minor 3rd (3 half steps).
- The root of the chord has been moved to the top of the chord.
- 3rd on the bottom, 5th in the middle, root on top.
- The lower interval is a minor 3rd (3 half steps), the top interval is a perfect fourth (5 half steps).
- The 3rd of the chord has been moved to the top of the chord.
- 5th on the bottom, root in the middle, 5th on top.
- The lower interval is a perfect fourth (5 half steps), the top interval is a major third (4 half steps)
Fingerings for Chord Inversions
The fingerings will be the same in every key. It’s worth investing some time in getting the fingerings correct, as it will help with your accuracy and will lead to less fatigue in your hand.
Notice that we use the 1-3-5 fingering in the RH and 5-3-1 fingering for 75% of the inversions. The only exception? The 1st inversion in the right hand and the 2nd inversion in the left hand.
Why? Because in each of these examples, there is an interval of a fourth. By using the second finger, we can play with more accuracy and less strain to the hand.
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How to practice your chord inversions
Practice your inversions in the key of C, until you play play them with ease. Once you have mastered the key of C, then choose 1-2 keys per day until you master them. Adding 5 minutes of inversion practice to your daily routine will ensure that you learn them securely and efficiently!
Practice each exercise
- Right hand alone
- Left hand alone
- Right hand play the chord, left hand play the bass line.
Want to improve your piano technique and ear training skills but don't have hours every day??
In Piano Technique and Ear Training, I have captured all of the technical requirements that pianists need into a practice routine that only takes 10 minutes a day.
Seriously! A short, to-the-point routine that you can get through in 10 minutes and then move on to whatever else you need to practice.
Every week we tackle a new key until you are able to play in all 12 major and all 12 minor keys with ease.