Piano Chord Inversions:
and the best way to learn them


4 Steps to Learning How to Play Any Song on the Piano

1. Determining the melody - Melodies determine what chords will be played. If you can use your ear to figure out what notes are being played in the melody, you are 1/4 on your way to learning a song! More resources on learning how to determine melodies

2.Harmonizing the melody - Once you have figured out the melody (using some of my techniques on the resource page), it is time to harmonize it. This is simply choosing various chords to accompany the melody. There are several techniques and tricks to doing this. More resources on learning how to harmonize melodies

3. Altering Chords - This is the best part! Now that you have strategically figured out the melody to a song and have harmonized it, altering your chords to produce certain sounds is the next step. If you were playing gospel music, you would alter your chords differently than if you were playing classical or country music. More resources on altering chords

4. Listening - After you have determined the melody, harmonized the melody, and altered some of your chords, there are various techniques you can use to make sure that your song sounds right. More resources on listening techniques

I personally recommend "The Secrets to Playing Piano By Ear" 300-pg Course and through my relationship with Jermaine (the author of this course), I've been able to get him to throw in a few bonus items (3 additional piano software programs). He has taught literally thousands of musicians how to play the piano by ear. If you understood just half of what he discussed above, you'll definitely benefit from his 300-pg course. Click here to learn the secrets to playing absolutely any song on the piano in virtually minutes! I highly recommend it.

In this lesson on piano chord inversions we will learn about what a chord inversion is, why they are important to learn and most importantly how we can take this valuable knowledge and transfer it to our fingers in the easiest way possible.

I have to give credit to one of our readers for sending in this question on a contact form.

Her name is Dee and she wrote:

"Hi, I'm a beginner adult piano student who found your website in hopes of learning a method for memorizing chord inversions. How do i begin? I'm determined to learn this but sometimes it's overwhelming. Should it take a long time to accomplish? Any help would be appreciated.  Thank you."

First, the definition of invert is: 

Put upside down or in the opposite position, order, or arrangement.

That is the dictionary definition and it fits well because when we invert a piano chord we simply take the bottom of the chord ( lowest note) and make it the top (highest note).

In the two examples below you will see how the inverted C major chords looks both on the staff and on the keyboard.

Notice that in each example the lowest note is taken from the bottom and moved to the top both on the keyboard and on the staff.

Now that you know the theory or definition of chord inversions the question becomes for Dee and the rest of us, What is the best way to go about learning these inversions on the keyboard and how long should it take?

I can relate to the feeling of being overwhelmed as there are literally hundreds of possible chords and inversions. 

If you are determined to do it I applaud you because I know that someday you will be glad you took the time to learn piano chord inversions as your playing will become more and more fluid and more automatic.

Helpful Hints.

If you are an ear player I can give you some suggestions on how to get these exercises under your fingers and avoid that overwhelmed feeling.

Perhaps the biggest helpful suggestion is for you to look for the patterns on the piano keyboard.

You would do well to play the above exercise and extend it over the entire keyboard with both hands. Start in the lower octave and move up and down the keyboard playing each inversion in sequence.

If I wrote all the inversions out I would be doing you a disservice by not allowing you to figure them out and see and feel the similarities.

Besides it would take forever and be a real pain in the neck!

You will notice notice patterns that happen as you start to play these exercised and quickly realize that certain chords and their inversions will look and feel the same.

For instance this exercise will look and feel the same in terms of fingering for all white note triads, C, Dm, Em, F, G, Am and B dim.

D maj, E maj, and A maj triads will also look and feel the same as will Db maj, Eb maj, and Ab maj.

The odd ones will be F# maj and B maj that will feel different and unique.

I spent 10 or 15 minutes every time I sat at the piano while in school and eventually went through all my three and four note chords.

It was a bit tedious to do them all and I can say that a lot of the inversions I hardly ever use in performance, but still the amount of finger dexterity gained from the exercise has served me well.

I suggest at least that you run through all the inversions that your are playing in the songs you already know or are learning.

The video below should be helpful as well

Contact me

If you have any questions, suggestions, or ideas for future lessons feel free to Contact Me.

From piano chord inversions to Piano Chords

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