I am learning a song on piano which has the following notes played simultaneously with the right hand: C Eb G C (my fingering: 1 2 3 5)

If it was E instead of Eb I could pull it off without a problem, but the way it is now I am unable to play either of C or Eb. When I take it very, very slowly and bend my wrist I can do it. I figure out it's a matter of my fingers being untrained in handling this - I tried to change the fingering and it wasn't better.

What exercises can I do to make it easier/possible for me to play chords like this?

  • 1
    For a beginner, i'd do that 1 2 3 5, not 1 2 4 5. 1 2 & 3 are more flexible than 4 or 5 when you're just learning. That should allow your 2 to more easily play any of D, D# or E.
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Oct 19, 2015 at 18:05
  • @Tetsujin Bah. I had to walk to the piano to check and I was actually going 1 2 3 5, I just didn't have the keyboard handy when writing the post and remembered it wrong.
    – Maurycy
    Commented Oct 19, 2015 at 18:19
  • 4
    I bet anything that D# is really an Eb...
    – Tim
    Commented Oct 19, 2015 at 19:33
  • @Tim Yep, it is. I used D# because I didn't know how to express the Eb without special characters, heh.
    – Maurycy
    Commented Oct 19, 2015 at 20:33
  • aparente001 brings up a good question in the comments: how big are your hands, Maurycy? How much can they comfortably span? For example, I can barely hit a ninth if both notes are on white keys, but then I also hit adjacent notes. I can comfortably hit octaves in both hands, but I have trouble playing five notes with each hand while spanning an octave each. I think that's due to my small hand size.
    – Dekkadeci
    Commented Aug 26, 2017 at 13:31

3 Answers 3


The most likely problem is your hand position. A one-octave C-major chord should not require twisting or bending the wrist. (This answer deals with twisting, but the same solutios/ideas apply to a bend wrist, which should be kept neutral -- the way it would be if your arm was hanging relaxed at your side.)

Fingers over-curled

It's possible that you are playing too much on the tips of your fingers. This will force a wider stretch between fingers 2 and 3. (See Photo #1 and #2, below)

Flatten out your hand so you can take advantage of the length of finger 2 to help read the Eb.

Hand too close to the edge of the keys

When playing white-keys only, it's good to play close to the edge of the keys, because it afford better leverage/control. However, when playing black keys, the best strategy is to shift the hand toward the back of the keyboard (away from the body) to bring the fingers closer to the black keys. (See photo #2, below)

Don't twist

Twisting the hand should be avoided to the greatest degree possible. It leads to inefficient movement and is a common cause of injury to pianists. Leaving aside the rare exceptional case, use in/out movement, not twisting.

Correct hand position

See photo #3 below. Keep the hand more flat, shift toward the back of the keys, and keep your write neutral.


Photo #1: over-curled fingers create difficulty reaching black keys.

Over-curled fingers side view

Photo #2: over-curling also increases the angle (stretch) between fingers.

Over-curled fingers top view

Photo #3: flatter hand in forward position allows for no twist and least stretch between fingers.

Flat-hand example


so your thumb and pinky can't reach an octave?

might just be that you'll have to roll chords like that if your hand span just ain't too wide.

hit the first 3 with the hold pedal down and get to the top c as quick as you can.

  • They can reach the octave, I can easily pull An octave +1 note if it's just thumb and pinky. Because of the index finger being too much to the left though my fingers: a) have almost no strength so when I push down onto the keys they move b) I have hard time not accidentally pressing the neighboring keys with my thumb and pinky. I can almost make it, I just feel like I need to build up strength and agility in the fingers.
    – Maurycy
    Commented Oct 19, 2015 at 19:34
  • @Maurycy, I tried your chord. I have to stretch and put my hand in some uncomfortable tension to play it. Unfortunately a lot of piano music is written for people with big hands. Commented Oct 22, 2015 at 6:12

I'd recommend starting to practice the chords as arpeggios. Here are some exercises that can help getting familiar with chord fingerings using an octave.

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As long as you practice these with only white keys I recommend playing those exercises in different modes by moving up or down one step.

As soon as you start getting pretty fluent change the E to E♭ as asked in your question. I'm pretty sure that once you are practicing this you will come up with other variations. Just make sure that if you start swapping hands and practice the arpeggios with the left hand I'd recommend a fingering 5-4-3-1 as suggested in the left hand of Nr.4.


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