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Welcome to our latest bootcamp/lesson on how to play beautiful broken chords on the piano! This lesson should be both fun and useful: you will develop strength and dexterity, practice moving smoothly between piano chords, and learn chord patterns to make your left-hand accompaniment and right-hand melodies sound more unique.

We’ll work in the key of F major today and move through a series of basic pop chords on the piano. We have two sets of chords for you, but the chord patterns for each are pretty similar.

Get warmed up and ready—this is a play-along lesson so get ready to play WITH me!

The First Chord Set

To create a beautiful, delicate sound, we’ll play in a higher octave today. You may want to scooch to the right side of your bench so you don’t have to wiggle to reach for notes.

Here are our first set of chords and their fingering.

These are simple piano chords for beginners, but done in different inversions, they can sound beautiful and refreshing.

Practice moving through these chords in their solid form until you’re comfortable with the shapes. Practice with one hand, and then the other.

And check your posture—make sure you’re nice and relaxed!

The First Pattern

Onto our first pretty chord pattern! We’ll do the work on our right hand first, so play the chord progression broken twice like this:

F major: root position
F-A-C-A, F-A-C-A
Right hand: 1-3-5-3, 1-3-5-3

C major: 1st inversion
E-G-C-G, E-G-C-G
Right hand: 1-2-5-2, 1-2-5-2

D minor: 1st inversion
F-A-D-A, F-A-D-A
Right hand: 1-2-5-2, 1-2-5-2

Bb major: 2nd inversion
F-Bb-D-Bb, F-Bb-D-Bb
Right hand: 1-3-5-3, 1-3-5-3

Play along with me and repeat the pattern a few times. Get very comfortable with it.

Once you’re comfortable, pair your right hand with the root notes on your left hand. The root note progression is:

F-C-D-Bb

If you want, you can press down the sustain pedal for an even prettier, floatier feel. Before long, you’ll be sounding like a music box!

This chord progression is very common in pop music. In fact, I can play an Adele hit right over these chords! So understanding these broken chord progressions does come in handy.

The Second Pattern

Now let’s add a little more to our patterns. We’ll linger a little longer on the middle and top notes of these chords. Practice setting up your hand on top of the next chord’s notes.

F major: root position
F-A-C-A-C-A-C-A
Right hand: 1-3-5-3-5-3-5-3
Left hand: 5-3-1-3-1-3-1-3

C major: 1st inversion
E-G-C-G-C-G-C-G
Right hand: 1-2-5-2-5-2-5-2
Left hand: 5-3-1-3-1-3-1-3

D minor: 1st inversion
F-A-D-A-D-A-D-A
Right hand: 1-2-5-2-5-2-5-2
Left hand: 5-3-1-3-1-3-1-3

Bb major: 2nd inversion
F-Bb-D-Bb-D-Bb-D-Bb
Right hand: 1-3-5-3-5-3-5-3
Left hand: 5-2-1-2-1-2-1-2

Once your right hand is familiar with the chords, add the root notes in your left hand for some accompaniment. Remember to relax your arm and shoulders if you start to feel some wrist fatigue.

Then, mirror the pattern by playing the broken pattern on your left hand and the root notes in your right hand.

Pay attention to how your left hand feels in comparison to your right hand. I definitely hold more tension in my left hand. So, if you’re right-handed, don’t feel afraid to spend a little extra time getting your left hand comfortable.

Once you’ve mastered this, see if you can speed it up!

The Third Pattern

Now let’s go one step further and add even more to these broken chord patterns! This time, we’ll go bottom > middle > top > middle > top > middle > bottom > middle.

Written out, the notes and fingering look like this:

F major: root position
F-A-C-A-C-A-F-A
Right hand: 1-3-5-3-5-3-1-3
Left hand: 5-3-1-3-1-3-5-3

C major: 1st inversion
E-G-C-G-C-G-E-G
Right hand: 1-2-5-2-5-2-1-2
Left hand: 5-3-1-3-1-3-5-3

D minor: 1st inversion
F-A-D-A-D-A-F-A
Right hand: 1-2-5-2-5-2-1-2
Left hand: 5-3-1-3-1-3-5-3

Bb major: 2nd inversion
F-Bb-D-Bb-D-Bb-F-Bb
Right hand: 1-3-5-3-5-3-1-3
Left hand: 5-2-1-2-1-2-5-2

This makes a lot more sense when you hear it, so feel welcome to rewind the video a few times to get used to the sound.

Practice the broken chords in one hand with the root notes in the other, then switch it up. Mimic the fingering I’m using here (such as using left finger 2 on Bb) for the most efficient way to play.

Sometimes people ask whether it’s okay to look at your hands—the answer is YES! It is absolutely okay to watch your hands when you learn something new!

The Second Chord Set

That’s it with our first set! But if you’re looking for more, we have a second set of chords for you to explore.

These are essentially the same chords as before, but in different inversions.

The transition and fingering change between F major and C major can be tricky, so do practice moving between these two chords. You’ll get it in no time!

The First Pattern

Now let’s practice the first broken chord pattern with these inversions. Pair the following patterns with the root note in your left hand.

When you’re done, switch it up so you’re playing broken chords on your left hand and the root note in your right.

F major: 1st inversion
A-C-F-C, A-C-F-C
Right hand: 1-2-5-2, 1-2-5-2
Left hand: 5-3-1-3, 5-3-1-3

C major: 2nd inversion
G-C-E-C, G-C-E-C
Right hand: 1-3-5-3, 1-3-5-3
Left hand: 5-2-1-2, 5-2-1-2

D minor: 2nd inversion
A-D-F-D, A-D-F-D
Right hand: 1-3-5-3, 1-3-5-3
Left hand: 5-2-1-2, 5-2-1-2

Bb major: root position
Bb-D-F-D, Bb-D-F-D
Right hand: 1-3-5-3, 1-3-5-3
Left hand: 5-3-1-3, 5-3-1-3

By the way: if you mix up your inversions on occasion, that’s okay! Just reset your hands and start again.

Eventually, we hope you’ll add your own creative touch to these patterns, so do improvise, experiment, and make these patterns your own.

The Second Pattern

Just like the previous set, let’s build out our chords. Written out, the second pattern looks like this:

F major: 1st inversion
A-C-F-C-F-C-F-C
Right hand: 1-2-5-2-5-2-5-2
Left hand: 5-3-1-3-1-3-1-3

C major: 2nd inversion
G-C-E-C-E-C-E-C
Right hand: 1-3-5-3-5-3-5-3
Left hand: 5-2-1-2-1-2-1-2

D minor: 2nd inversion
A-D-F-D-F-D-F-D
Right hand: 1-3-5-3-5-3-5-3
Left hand: 5-2-1-2-1-2-1-2

Bb major: root position
Bb-D-F-D-F-D-F-D
Right hand: 1-3-5-3-5-3-5-3
Left hand: 5-3-1-3-1-3-1-3

Once you’ve mastered this one, go to our third and final pattern!

The Third Pattern

The third pattern of the second set looks like this:

F major: 1st inversion
A-C-F-C-F-C-A-C
Right hand: 1-2-5-2-5-2-1-2
Left hand: 5-3-1-3-1-3-5-3

C major: 2nd inversion
G-C-E-C-E-C-G-C
Right hand: 1-3-5-3-5-3-1-3
Left hand: 5-2-1-2-1-2-5-2

D minor: 2nd inversion
A-D-F-D-F-D-A-D
Right hand: 1-3-5-3-5-3-1-3
Left hand: 5-2-1-2-1-2-5-2

Bb major: root position
Bb-D-F-D-F-D-Bb-D
Right hand: 1-3-5-3-5-3-1-3
Left hand: 5-3-1-3-1-3-5-3

Once again, pair the broken chords on one hand with the root notes on the other hand. When you’re more comfortable, ramp up your speed!

If you make a mistake, just keep going. Mistakes are not the end of the world, and it happens to the best of us. In fact, knowing how to keep moving after a mistake is a great skill to learn.

Why Learn Broken Chord Patterns

Broken chords on the piano (or piano arpeggios if you want to sound fancy!) are both very useful chord patterns and a way to practice technique and hand independence.

If you want to dive deeper into chording, check out our free chording resources to master chords on the piano.

Have fun with these broken progressions—they’ll form the basis of many songs to come!


Lisa Witt

Lisa Witt has been teaching piano for 18 years and in that time has helped hundreds of students learn to play the songs they love. Lisa received classical piano training through the Royal Conservatory of Music, but she has since embraced popular music and playing by ear in order to accompany herself and others.

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