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I am a beginner keyboardist and I am facing some issues when I play the first inversion E major chord:

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With my right hand I play the chord using the thumb (finger number 1) for the G♯, finger n. 2 for B and n. 5 for E (the circles represent approximately where each finger hits each key).

The problem is that very often instead of hitting B, I hit the black key B♭/A♯, and more rarely I hit D♯ instead of E.

Is there a proper way to play this chord so that I decrease the chances of hitting A♯ and/or D♯. What am I doing wrong? Maybe I'm not hitting each key where I should? Or maybe the position of my hand is not correct?

How do you guys deal with this chord?

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Chances are that you will someday encounter music requiring the right hand to play the larger chord E G# B E. Any fingering but 1 2 3 5 for that chord would be very unusual regardless of hand size and shape. There's your clue: try 2 3 5 here.

You could also encounter the larger chord G# B E G#. Here the normal fingering would be 1 2 4 5. That means 1 2 4 is also possible, and if you can play B and E with 2 and 4, you can also play them with 2 and 5.

Trying these larger chords might help to point you in the right direction by forcing your hand into a position that works. Programming the spacings of chords into your hand is essential but takes time.

  • I disagree that G#BEG# should be played 1245. I believe it should be 1235. The stretch from 4-5 in the first is too big and over time will cause injury. – Heather S. Mar 30 '18 at 1:35
  • For me, 1235 is almost unplayable: B and E with 2 and 3 is a large stretch. However 1245 is effortless for me. It's the same old adage: we all have hands of different shapes and sizes, and it's seldom that one fingering fits all. – user48353 Mar 30 '18 at 4:56
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It's not always possible to avoid using thumb on a black key, but try to do so if you can. The thumb is way shorter than the other digits, so you'll have to push the whole hand further into the keys. This then puts the fingers 2, 3, 4 and 5 too far, making them press between the black keys to play the white ones.

Or, you can turn the whole hand sideways - again, not ideal.

You can probably play E G# B and the next E in one go, using 1, 2, 3 and 5 with r.h. Stick with it, and play the first inversion with 2, 3 and 5.

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1,2,5 is a very commonly-used fingering for this chord, and the contact points you mark on your diagram are about right. Yes, there are circumstances where 2,3,5 would be appropriate, but you need to be able to cope with fingering this chord shape 1,2,5 as a basic piano-playing skill, even if it DOES put the thumb on a black note.

If you're hitting Bb instead of B, your hand is positioned wrong. You are not placing your fingers over the right notes. Correct it.

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Most likely the position of your ARM is not correct. These are things you need to work on with your teacher because they need to see if you are doing something wrong or not doing something right. So, don't try any of this on your own since they are isolated movements which MUST be coalesced with all the others simultaneously. Isolate them and you can run into trouble. This is presuming your teacher knows what they are doing. If not, get a new teacher because they will cripple you in years to come. Here is a quick video to give you ideas:

  • Thank you very much for the video and for your explanation and care! When you play the chord fast, e.g. quarter notes, do you use 2, 3 and 5 like the others suggested, or do you use 1, 2 and 5? – tonix Mar 29 '18 at 20:12
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    I don't lock in fingering. Fingering is contingent upon where you are coming from and where you are going. Whenever possible I group notes or patters together to get a physical shape to the phrase. Since this is a stand alone phrase, I would want to minimize stretching as much as possible and 2 to 5 is a much smaller stretch than 3 to 5. Again, it would depend on what notes lead up to this phrase and where the arm is going after. – Malcolm Kogut Mar 31 '18 at 11:24
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I just tried playing this on the piano. The only way I can get my thumb in that far on this inversion is if I turn my wrist, which is not something that should be done. Make sure your wrist is completely straight then kind of "insert" your fingers forward onto the keys. Pay careful attention to what your fingers are doing (really look at the side of your hand where the pinky is) and make sure it is not tilting down toward the wrist.

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