How to Play a Minor Chord on the Piano or Keyboard

By Holly Day, Jerry Kovarksy, Blake Neely, David Pearl, Michael Pilhofer

Piano and keyboard players need to know how to build a minor chord. Like the major chord, a minor chord is a triad comprised of a root note, a third interval, and a fifth interval. Written as a chord symbol, minor chords get the suffix m, or sometimes min. Songs in minor keys give you lots of opportunities to play minor chords.

Don’t be fooled by the name “minor.” These chords are no smaller or any less important than major chords. They’re simply built on minor scales, rather than on major scales.

You can make a minor chord two different ways:

  • Play the root note, and add the third and fifth notes of the minor scale on top. For example, play A as the root note, and add the third note (C) and fifth note (E) of the A minor scale.

  • Play a major chord and lower the middle note, or third interval, by one half step. For example, a C major chord has the notes C-E-G. To play a C minor chord, lower the E to E flat.

Check out these minor chords. Play them to hear how they sound.

Just like playing major chords, use fingers 1, 3, and 5 for minor chords. For left-hand minor chords, play the root note with LH 5; for right-hand chords, play the root note with RH 1.


Try playing “Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child,” a song in a minor key with lots of minor chords.