Broken Piano Chords – Yoga For Your Fingers

Seeing piano chords on a piece of sheet music can be quite daunting. A piano chord on a piece of music is quite simply multiple (three or more notes) that are required to be played together. That means that each of your three or more fingers should place equal pressure on each note at exactly the same time.

Having your fingers and hand in the correct shape will make chords a lot easier to play, so ensure that you have your hand shaped as if it is holding a ball, with all your fingers nicely curved and the ends of your finger tips resting on the keys.

The first chord most beginners learn is C Major. To create this with your right hand place your thumb (1st finger) on Middle C, then your third finger on E and your fifth finger on the G, play these three notes together, and you have C Major Chord. It is the same in the left hand, but it is finger five on the C one octave below middle C, then third finger on E and first finger on G.

Play this first as a chord then as three notes. This is the start of our broken chord exercise. Playing each note of a chord separately like this is called a broken chord.

With all chords you can add the next the note one octave higher to the chord, in this case C. Below is a diagram showing the notes from the C Major chord across two octaves.

C Major

To start the exercise, simply play C, E, G, then swing your thumb up to the E to play E with it, play G with your second finger and then C (an octave higher) with your fifth finger.

Continue to swing your thumb under, this time to the G, the C with your third finger and pinkie on E and so on. When you reach the same C Major chord but an octave higher, play the chord in the same way, then the G again and come back down.

The order expressed in notes and fingering is:

Up C, E, G E, G, C G, C, E C, E, G

1, 3, 5 1, 2, 5 1, 3, 5 1, 3, 5


Down G, E, C E, C, G C, G, E, G, E, C

5, 3, 1 5, 3, 1 5, 2, 1 5, 3, 1

This broken piano chord exercise can be adapted for any chord. Ask your teacher to show you and help with your fingering for each.

When you master three finger broken chords you can tackle the challenge of four finger chords, which will stretch and develop your piano skill even further.

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