Hoffman Academy Blog

How To Play Easy I-IV-V Piano Chords


There are thousands of pop, blues, and rock songs you can play using the One Chord, Four Chord, and Five Chord – commonly referred to as I-IV-V. Let’s take a look at one of the easiest ways to play these three chords on piano in the key of C (C Major, F Major, G Major).

Chord Inversions

I’m defining “easiest” as the way to play these chords that requires you to move your hand the least. In order to keep the notes close together, we’re going to use chord inversions. This means that for some of these chords, we’ll be playing the notes in an order that might be new to you.

One Chord

Let’s start with a C major triad. This is our One Chord. On the right hand, you have C with the thumb, E with the middle finger and G with the pinky. 

Four Chord

Next, we’ll transition to our Four Chord. Keeping your thumb in place on the C, move both your middle finger and your pinky up one white key, so that you end up with your middle finger on F, and your pinky on A. Once you know the move, practice the transition back and forth between C Major and F Major.

Five Chord

Keeping your hand in place on the F chord, let’s look at the transition from our Four Chord to our Five Chord. Take the chord shape you’ve got and move each of your fingers, thumb, middle, and pinky, up a whole step (or one white key) so you end up with your thumb on D, your middle finger on G, and your pinky on B. Once you’ve found the G chord, practice moving between F Major and G Major.

When you’re feeling comfortable with each shape, try moving through the progressions slowly playing whole notes – C Major, F Major, G Major, and back to C Major.

I-IV-V With the Left Hand

And what about the left hand? I like to start with root notes on the left hand – you can play this progression without moving your left hand at all.

Put your left thumb on C. Your pinky is going to fall on F, and your ring finger is on the note G. Practice with whole notes first, C, F, G, and back to C.

Playing Piano With Both Hands

After you’ve practiced each hand separately, match your left hand root notes to your right hand chords. Again, start with whole notes C Major, F Major, G Major, and back to C Major. As always, take your time, be patient, and have fun practicing!

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