Piano Fingering for the Left Hand

How to Play Bass Piano Scales & Chords

How to play bass piano scales.
The A minor scale on the bass staff. Image © Brandy Kraemer

Left Hand Piano Fingering

Piano fingering for the left hand is similar to right hand fingering, as you can see from the basic rules:

  1. Fingers are numbered 1-5; the thumb is always 1, and the little finger is 5.
  2. Fingers 1 and 5 should be kept off accidentals whenever possible.
  3. After playing black keys, aim to land on a white key with your thumb or pinky. This technique goes for both ascending and descending scales, played by either hand.

     

    Left Hand Piano Scale Fingering

    The left hand often plays rhythm in piano music; but you will play many left-handed melodies and arpeggios. Practice the following finger techniques to target dexterity in the left hand:

    • In ascending scales, the 3rd or 4th finger crosses over the thumb. Look at scale #1, above: This happens between the E and F in the first measure.
    • In descending scales, the thumb crosses under the 3rd or 4th finger. You can see this in the third measure between the G and the F.

     

    Try It: Practice the fingering for the A minor scale above (view full scale).

     

    Left Hand Piano Chord Fingering

    Fingering for piano bass chords is just like fingering for treble chords, except the numbers are inverted:

    • Triads (three-note chords) are formed using fingers 5-3-1.

      There are exceptions: The formation 5-2-1 is used when a chord demands a wide finger span. This can be seen in an A minor chord in the second inversion.

      Another exception involves accidentals. Just like in scales, fingers 2-3-4 are best for black keys. Therefore, if a triad began with an accidental, it would also begin with the 4th finger: A D major triad in the first inversion – whose notes are F#-A-D – is played with the fingering 4-2-1.

       

      • Tetrads (four-note chords) are formed using fingers 5-3-2-1.

        Tetrad chords follow the same rules (and exceptions) as triads; and, like with triads, you should adjust tetrad fingering for the sake of efficiency. For example, if you need finger 3 for another note, use the 5-4-2-1 position instead.

       


      Continue This Lesson:

      Right Hand Piano Fingering    | ► Essential Scale & Chord Fingering
                                                           | ► Bass Piano Chord Library

       

      Reading Piano Music

       ▪  Sheet Music Symbol Library
       ▪  How to Read Piano Notation
       ▪  Illustrated Piano Chords
       ▪  Tempo Commands Organized By Speed
       

      Beginner Piano Lessons

       ▪  Notes of the Piano Keys
       ▪  Finding Middle C on the Piano
       ▪  Comparing Major & Minor Chords
       ▪  How to Count Triplets
       ▪  Musical Quizzes & Tests
       

      Getting Started on Keyboard Instruments

       ▪  Playing Piano vs. Electric Keyboard
       ▪  How to Sit at the Piano
       ▪  Buying a Used Piano
       

      Format
      mla apa chicago
      Your Citation
      Kraemer, Brandy. "Piano Fingering for the Left Hand." ThoughtCo, Jun. 19, 2017, thoughtco.com/piano-fingering-for-the-left-hand-2701362. Kraemer, Brandy. (2017, June 19). Piano Fingering for the Left Hand. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/piano-fingering-for-the-left-hand-2701362 Kraemer, Brandy. "Piano Fingering for the Left Hand." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/piano-fingering-for-the-left-hand-2701362 (accessed November 24, 2017).