Chord Inversions For Piano – Simple Video Tutorial

chord inversionsWant to learn how to play chord inversions? You’ve come to the right place!

In today’s video lesson I’m going to show you how to play this critical chord technique.

You’ll see these chord inversions being used all over the place in music. Rock, country, gospel, classical, R&B, you name it. Incredibly important!

Essentially what we are going to do is we are going to take basic chords that a lot of people already know, and we are going to rebuild them using new note orders.

This will get you all kinds of cool color and texture out of them. I think you’re going to really enjoy this lesson.

All right, enough introduction, let’s head over to the piano and let’s have some fun.

Chord Inversions Video Tutorial

All right, welcome to the piano. Let’s learn how to play chord inversions. Okay, so check this out, very easy stuff. As you see in the video I’m just playing a basic C chord in the beginning.

Root Position Basics

Most people know a basic C chord. It’s just the notes C, E, G. This is what’s called root position. Write that down in your notebook, root position.

Now, there are going to be two additional ways that we can play these same three notes.

1st Inversion Basics

chord inversionsTo get our first first chord inversion, we are just going to reorder the notes a little bit.

For the 1st inversion, we’re going to take the bottom C note, we are going to first remove it. Then, we’re going to pop that same C note and move it to the top of the chord instead. This is still a C chord but this is what’s called first inversion.

Okay, so write that term down in your notebook, first inversion. It’s also important!

So, first inversion is, we have the third of the chord on the bottom, the 5th of the chord in the middle, and the root of the chord on top. and then the root on top.

2nd Inversion Basics

chord inversionsNow, variation number two. Second inversion. This chord inversion is also very easy.

To get our second inversion, we are just going to reorder the same notes a little bit again.

To break down how to find the 2nd inversion, lets start with our regular root position chord again. C-E-G.

For the 2nd inversion, we’re going to first take the top G note and we are going to  remove it.

Then, we’re going to pop that same G note and place it on the bottom of the chord instead. This is still a C chord but now that we have the 5th (or the G in this chord) on the bottom we call it 2nd inversion.

Okay, so write that term down in your notebook, 2nd inversion. It’s also super important!

So, 2nd inversion is, we have the fifth of the chord on the bottom, the root of the chord in the middle, and the 3rd of the chord on top.

Arpeggiation Helps Chord Inversions Shine

Another technique I used to decorate chords in this lesson is arpeggiation.

This is just a simple technique where you break up the chords.  It’s a great way to create a little bit of a different sound texture. So, you’re not constantly playing block chords the whole time.

Block chords are cool but sometimes it’s nice to arpeggiate as well.

Subtle Sound Shifts Make Your Decisions Easier

chord inversionsAnother important concept to take in mind when you’re learning chord inversions is the sound of reordering the notes.

Can you hear how the root position has 1 particular sound or emotional feel?

Can you hear how when you play the 1st inversion it has a slightly different sound?

How about the 2nd inversion, can you hear the subtle difference of how a 2nd inversion sounds? Listen to this C chord, it’s got a particular sound, right. What about in second inversion, okay.

It still has that familiar feeling to this one, but it’s a little different. They all have a little bit of a different emotional color or texture to it.

Keeping Your Hand & Fingerings Efficient Is Huge

chord inversionsAnother important reason we may choose 1 inversion over another is efficiency, fingering, and hand motion.

We usually want to stay close when we move from 1 chord into the next.

For example, if you were to play a root position F chord (F-A-C) then a root position C chord (C-E-G), it would be a big jump.

The more efficient motion is to play 2nd inversion F chord (C -F-A) and then smoothly move to the root position C chord (C-E-G).

You barely have to move that way and it sounds really smooth as well!

You’re just moving 2 fingers as opposed to having to move your whole entire hand position. You always want to be as efficient as possible at the keyboard.

So, there is sound, there is physically staying close. There are more cool reasons too but we’ll have to cover more in future piano lessons soon.

In the meantime, have fun exploring these chord inversions now you understand how to play them. Pretty easy to understand, right?

More Piano Lessons To Explore

chord inversionsIf you want to learn more about simple piano chords I highly recommend you check out this Hallelujah piano tutorial. You can also check out this John Lennon Imagine piano lesson.

We have some other cool free videos that feature 2nd inversions. If you’re up for a fun challenge you can also check out this The Way It Is piano lesson and this Margaritaville piano lesson.

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Our mission is to build an amazing community of people who love piano just like you.  Thanks for watching and reading and if you have questions feel free to leave a comment below. Thanks!


  1. Boy on March 16, 2017 at 6:15 am

    Hi MR steve, I can see where Iam going now. You are a professional piano teacher I ever met.the way you teach it is clear and professional and I really enjoying all the best you give in teaching piano. If I met you before I could be far away in playing piano today. Iam very grateful to you and I will keep on learning all you are giving to me.

    • Steve Nixon on March 19, 2017 at 5:24 am

      Thank you so much for the kind words Boy and look forward to sharing music with you further!

  2. Mark on April 7, 2018 at 2:28 am

    Hi Steve: I am pushing 70 and returning to the keyboard, (Hammond SK-2) after a 6 year plus hiatis. I am amazed at how much I have forgotten, how difficult it is to get to the level of playing I was at and retention. I played rock music on the Hammond A100 and B-3 adequately for years but couldn’t seem to make the breakthrough. Your tutorials are very helpful and have provided focus and clarity for me at this stage of the game in getting back to it. Not looking to be a jazz musician, but a solid Rock and Blues keyboard musician. Thanks for your videos.

    • Karlene white on February 29, 2020 at 1:36 pm

      Hi Steve. I’m interested in playing souls . I love souls music. The one I would like to play is she’s like the wind . Patrick swyze

  3. Kahoa Meimuli Corbett on October 2, 2021 at 7:40 am

    Are your all your lessons free? This is amazing that you don’t charged like most of the people online are.. Do you teach everyday as am very interested in getting better at playing the Piano. Please let me know xx

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