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I am a newbie and learning to play piano. I am currently learning chords from my teacher and his website. He has written an elaborated tutorial about chords. But everything is comfortable about this tutorial except my hands are not sitting properly on the keys.

c major chord

I tend to hit the C Major with my Index, Middle & Ring fingers. I just am not comfortable to use the little finger and thumb!! :(

Is it a strict rule to use only those 3 particular fingers, or I should go with whats most comfortable to me?

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To some extent, it'll rely on the anatomy of your hands/fingers. But there's a bigger picture. No-one is going to play just one chord in isolation in the middle of a piece. Imaging your CEG (Cmaj) chord is followed by an F chord. You may want to keep the C at the bottom, and play the F and A instead of E and G. With thumb on the common note C, it's simple to change. Or, maybe there's Gmaj. next. Now, you could leave your ring finger on G, and move the C and E down to B and D. Possibly easier with pinky on G?

As a bottom line, it's pretty important to be as good with every digit, so relying on 2 3 and 4 cuts your army down to 60%. Not a good reduction! You need as a piano player, to find your own fingerings for everything you do. True, lots of sheets have suggested fingerings, some may or may not be best for you, or another player. But, part of the fun and planning towards being a good player is to examine your own fingering for whatever you do - critically. And get all those digits working for you.

I have a student with incredibly long fingers, who plays just about everything in a way that I think wouldn't work, but it does for him, so it's unproductive to keep saying "but the book says do it this way".

You will also find that there will be at least a couple of different fingerings for chords (the same chords exactly) that you eventually use, depending on where you've come from and where you're going. Open mind !

  • I gave an example of C Major, because thats the first chord i was taught. I realized that I am not at all comfortable with using the little finger at all. – Andy Jones May 30 '18 at 16:34
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Actually, the style of fingering you are using was "normal" on the first keyboard instruments (about 400 years ago!) because the keys were then much shorter than on modern pianos. Back then, the "standard" fingering for a 2 octaves of a C major scale (right hand) was 2 3 2 3 2 3 4 2 3 2 3 2 3 4 5, not 1 2 3 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 1 2 3 4 5.

But unless only want to play old keyboard music on the original instruments, you really need to get used to the modern hand position on the piano, and from what you wrote, your hand position is fundamentally "wrong" (or if you don't like the judgmental word "wrong", change it to "unconventional").

Your way of playing chords may work for you when playing triads as in your example, but many piano chords contain notes that span an octave (or even a 9th or 10th) and you won't be able to play those without using your thumb and all your fingers. In fact you will eventually need to use your thumb on the black keys, as well as the white ones, if you want to play music in any key.

A good way to get the "correct" hand position is to practice scales which include a lot of black keys, like B major. You don't need to worry about reading music with 5 sharps in the key signature just to play the scale. The natural way to play scales like that is with your hand further forward so your fingers sit naturally on the black keys, and your thumb and pinky finger are on top of the white keys, not poking at the end of the key which is probably what you are currently doing.

  • The keys were shorter? In C that wouldn't make any difference. It would if they were narrower. – Tim May 30 '18 at 14:55
  • Shorter by a lot. The length of the white key heads on a modern piano is around 50mm. The 18th century "standard" was around 37mm. Some early keyboards were even shorter front to back. Key widths have not changed much - in fact some early keyboards were a bit wider than a modern piano. – user19146 May 31 '18 at 10:18
  • The traditional hand position for the harpsichord has the fingers bent much more than for modern piano. Playing white keys C D E F G, the thumb and pinky will be almost straight, and the other fingers bent so the finger tips press down vertically, along a straight line joining where the thumb and pinky press the keys. – user19146 May 31 '18 at 10:22
  • Thus making all five digits effectively the same length, I guess. And from your fingering - that's just what it was - no thumbs used anyway? – Tim May 31 '18 at 10:37
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The other answers are already excellent, but I would just like to add another point of view.

Since you're a newbie, I think you should go with recommended fingerings (by the book, or by a teacher), because I don't think you can judge by yourself yet. When you are a better player and comfortably using all your fingers, you can start to critically analyze, like @Tim said, and figure out your own fingerings.

Also it's not only comfort that matters. You should be able to play the songs with correct tempo and interpretation, and for this you might want to give up a little comfort, right? So following a certain fingering is important to achieve this (see @Tim 's chord examples).

2 3 4 for a C major may seem like it's best for you at first, but I doubt you will agree with this one year from now.

  • Thanks for the answer, it was helpful. I will go by the book! Won't try to be analytical of my playing style just yet. – Andy Jones May 30 '18 at 16:35

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