Tips on Playing Wide Piano Chords
Most of the basic major and minor chords used on piano do not require much
stretching to play. However, chords like the dominant seventh require playing notes across almost an entire
octave of keys.
Some chord shapes might even include octave notes, making them even wider. Playing wide piano chords can be
difficult for newer players that haven’t developed the same degree of dexterity a more experienced pianist has.
The main tip on playing wide piano chords to keep in mind is that it does get easier with practice.
Building the dexterity required to press down wide piano chords takes time to develop. Even if your hand can
stretch wide enough to hit all the keys for the chord, you might not physically have enough strength to press down
evenly on all the keys.
You can build up to playing wider chords gradually, rather than trying to start immediately with a chord like
the dominant seventh chord on piano. For example, start with a basic major or
minor chord shape. Keep the thumb in the same place, but move the middle finger and pinky over one key.
Press down on all the keys. You need to ensure all the notes are playing evenly and you can comfortably hit all
the keys. When you are comfortable playing this wider chord, move the middle finger and pinky one key further from
the thumb. Repeat the same process until you are comfortable with this shape. After that, move the middle finger
and pinky over one more key.
The thumb and pinky are now on keys for the same note, but in different octaves. This is the widest of a chord
most pianists encounter. Once you are comfortable with this stretch, you should be able to attempt most of the
wider piano chords with little difficulty.
The pinky gives some piano players trouble when trying to play wider
chords. The pinky is shorter and weaker than the other fingers. Most wide chords require using the pinky, and
you need to press all the keys in the chord down evenly. Without significant training, the pinky also might
not move completely independently.
Instead, the pinky and ring finger might, to a minor extent, move together, even if you are only consciously
trying to move one of those fingers. It takes time to strengthen your pinky. Even when you can comfortably make the
full stretch, you may not be able to press the chord down evenly without additional practice.
One tip on playing wide piano chords to keep in mind
is that the fingers you choose for the center notes of the chord can be important to how difficult it is to play.
Many common piano chords use the thumb, middle finger and pinky to play.
Generally, the thumb and pinky need to be used in wide chords because they allow the widest stretch for the
outside notes. However, the middle finger might not always be the best choice. Try using the index finger or ring
finger instead if the thumb and pinky are comfortable, but you are having trouble holding the chord. Just changing
the way you hold the center notes can help.
No matter how much you practice and follow tips on playing wide piano chords, it does take time to develop this
ability. Do not expect to practice a couple days and immediately be able to use the wider chords. Most pianists
need to increase the dexterity and strength in their hands to hold these chords, which can potentially take a