discovering the secrets of piano chords!
"If you want to understand how music works
and experience the highest
level of enjoyment from playing the piano, then you need to learn chords!"
Learning piano minor chords should be your second chord study if you've never played chords using chord symbols or you're completely new to the piano.
The exercise below will help you learn the Am, Dm and E Minor Chords in root position.
What Is Root Position?
Every chord has a root note. For example, the root note of an A minor chord is an A. The root note of a D minor chord is a D. The root note of an E minor chord is an E, and so on.
When the root note is the lowest note in the chord, then the chord is in root position. You can play chords in different positions, but major and minor triads (3-note chords) in root position are the easiest to learn and play.
If you look at the example below, notice that the bottom note of each A minor chord is an A, which means that every chord is in root position.
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The most common fingering for piano minor chords in root position played with your left hand is 5 - 3 - 1, which means that your 5th finger should be placed on the A, your 3rd finger on the C and your 1st finger (your thumb) on the E.
The most common fingering for most major and minor chords in root position played with your right hand is 1 - 3 - 5, which means that your 1st finger should be placed on the A, your 3rd finger on the C and your 5th finger on the E.
Every lesson and article that you read on this website will be focused on two main elements:
The reason for this is simple. These are the two most sought after musical skills. They're also the two skills that are rarely taught in traditional piano lessons.
You'll probably read this more than once on this website, but it bears repeating...major and minor chords are the foundation for every other chord and they're the easiest chords to learn.
When I started teaching myself how to learn songs by ear thirty years ago, I had no idea how to figure out chords. Learning the melody to a song was fairly easy, depending on the level of difficulty, however, for someone trying to learn a song by ear for the first time, hearing one note at a time is a whole lot easier than trying to hear 3 or more notes played together at the same time.
This is why it's so important to have a starting point. If you know the key of the song, then you can easily figure out the 6 most important chords in that key.
The chords shown above are the 6 most common chords in the key of C major. The first song that I tried to learn by ear 30 years ago was "Hey Jude" by the Beatles. I had no idea what key "Hey Jude" was written in, therefore, I had no idea what the 6 most common chords were.
If I had known the key of "Hey Jude" way back then, I would have been able to figure out the 3 major chords in F major, which are F, Bb and C -- and I would have been able to figure the 3 minor keys in F major, which are Dm, Gm and Am -- and with that information I would have already known 95% of the chords used in Hey Jude.
As I mentioned earlier, "it's nice to have a starting point", and knowing the 6 most common chords in any key is a great starting point.
If you'd like to learn more about chords and playing piano by ear, feel free to explore the "Piano Lessons By Ear" lessons in the Navigation Bar in the upper right-hand side of this page. Enjoy!