There are thousands of pop, blues, and rock songs you can play using the One, Four, and Five Chords – commonly referred to as I-IV-V. Let’s take a look at one of the easiest ways to play these chords on piano in the key of C.
Chords & Inversions
I’m defining “easiest” as the way 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 (I) Chord
Let’s start with a C major triad. This is our One (I) Chord. On the right hand, you have C with the thumb, E with the middle finger and G with the pinky.
Four (IV) Chord
Next, we’ll transition to our Four (IV) Chord. Keeping your thumb on C, move both your middle finger and your pinky up one white key. You’ll 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 I and IV.
Five (V) 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). You’ll end up with your thumb on D, your middle finger on G, and your pinky on B. That’s the G chord, our V! Once you’ve found the G chord, practice moving between IV and V. When you’re feeling comfortable with each shape, try moving through the progression using whole notes (4 beats each): C Major (I), F Major (IV), G Major (V), and back to C Major (I).
I-IV-V With the Left Hand
And what about the left hand? I like to start with root notes on the left hand (the notes that give the chords their names). 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! If you want to keep up to date on the latest video lessons and tutorials from Hoffman Academy, create a free account to join our mailing list.