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How to Play: A Major Piano Chord with Inversions (A, A/C#, A/E)

How to Play: A Major Piano Chord

Want to learn how to play the A major chord on the piano? If you’re just getting started with your chord journey, you will love these easy keyboard diagrams of the A chord (along with lots of tips & tricks on inversions, fingerings, and more!)

A major is kind of one of those “in between” keys, you know? It’s not the chord beginners usually start with – that’s C and G. But then, it’s also not the hardest, like B or the flat keys.

The amazing thing about the A chord is that though the key contains 3 sharps, the major chord contains only 1. This chord will be grouped together with D and E, because they all have the same type structure – a white key, a black key in the middle, and then another white key.

In fact, grouping chords together in this way can greatly help when you’re trying memorize all your piano chords. (Check out this article for more tips on that!)

But anyway, an A chord is not hard to learn. So let’s jump right in!

What is the A chord?

First of all, what is an A chord anyway? Basically, it is a chord in the family of major chords, made up of 3 notes in what’s called a triad. It is formed the same as any other major chord – by building a major third and then a minor third on top of that. If that sounds tricky, don’t worry. The diagrams and tips I’ll give you will make it very easy!

How do you play an A chord on piano?

You will play an A major chord simply by pressing down the 3 notes in the triad simultaneously. See below for a diagram on which notes are included.

Notes in an A Chord


In it’s simplest form (root position) the A chord includes 3 notes: A, C#, and E. The A is the root of the chord, the C# the major third, and the E the perfect fifth. Below you can see A major on the keyboard!

A Major Piano Chord - Keyboard Diagram

Let’s talk more about finding these notes on the piano if you’re a complete beginner.

First of all, remember that it will be easiest to find the root of the chord first – in this case, the A note. A can be found directly below the third black note (in any group of 3 black notes). It can be easy to get confused between G and A, because they look very similar! So just remember that A will always be above G. You can also count 2 white notes down from any C to find an A!

Next, you’ll need to find C#. Simply go two white notes up from A to find C (this shouldn’t be too hard!) C# will be the black note right above C. (New to sharps and flats? Watch this quick video for a quick explanation!)

To find the last note, E, simply move up two white notes from C#. E will always be above D and below F.

A Chord piano Finger Position

The next thing we have to talk about when it comes to the A chord is FINGERING! That’s right, your finger position is always going to be important when you play the piano, and chords are no exception. I know it can seem tedious in the beginning, but practicing fingerings now will help you in the future!

The nice thing is that the fingerings for major chords are always the same.

Right hand fingering: 1 – 3 – 5
Left hand fingering: 5 – 3 – 1

Don’t forget that finger 1 is your thumb, finger 3 your middle finger, and finger 5 your pinky.

Learn More Piano Chords

A Chord Piano Inversions

Now that you know the simplest form of the A chord, you can start learning inversions. If that term scares you, don’t let it! Inversions are very simple – just the same notes, but mixed up into different orders. These types of chords are formed by taking the bottom note of the chord and putting it on the top. It is really not as hard as people make it out to be!

A/C# – First Inversion A Chord


A first inversion is also known as “A/C#” – the reason for this is the C# is on the bottom. As you can see below, you’ll flip the A from the bottom onto the top for first inversion.

A/C# Chord Piano - A First Inversion

Right Hand fingering: 1 – 2 – 5
Left hand fingering: 5 – 3 – 1

A/E – Second Inversion A Chord

A second inversion is also known as A/E, for the same reason as the previous inversion. In this chord, E is on the bottom rather than A or C#.

Just take C# from first inversion and place it on the top to form second inversion!

A/E Chord Piano - A Second Inversion

Right hand fingering: 1 – 3 – 5
Left hand fingering: 1 – 2 – 5

Playing the A chord in the left hand

After you learn the A chord and its inversions, you might begin to wonder how it can be played in the left hand.

See, if you take what you just learned and try playing it on the low end of the piano, you might notice it doesn’t sound the best. It sounds kind of “thick”. You can’t hear the notes as clearly as up high.

So instead of just playing the chords in the left hand, I recommend experimenting with different voicings of the A chord.

This basically just means you will still play the main chord in your right hand…but then you will also play a bass note to go along with it in your left hand.

Here is an example of how you could play an A chord split between the left AND right hand:

  1. Start by playing the regular root position A chord in your right hand
  2. Put any note you learned in the A chord down as a base note in the left hand. You can play a low A to make it root position, or you could play a low C# or E to make it first/second inversion.
  3. You can also experiment! Try changing up the inversion in your right hand and the bass note in your left hand to get different sounds.

What are the chords in the key of A?

You’re doing great! You now know some basic concepts concerning the A chord. But there is still so much to learn about the key of A! We won’t go over everything in this post, but I do want to give you a list of the OTHER chords in the key of A.

You can build a chord off of each note in the A scale. Here’s a quick list you can refer to:

I: A
ii: Bm
iii: C#m
IV: D
V: E
vi: F#m
vii: G# diminished

Common Chord Progressions in the key of A

Once you know those chords above in the key of A, you can start putting them together to form chord progressions. A chord progression is just a series of chords that are commonly used in sequence with each other.

Here are a few common chord progressions you’ll see in A major songs:

  • A – E – F#m – D (I – V – vi – IV)
  • A – D – E (I – IV – V)
  • Bm – E – A (ii – V – I)
  • A – D – E – Bm (I – IV – V – ii)

Conclusion

I hope this post has been helpful in learning lots about the A piano chord! While this chord isn’t the easiest major chord, it isn’t difficult to learn either. Once you get started, there are endless ways you can use it in songs and improv! So now it’s time for you to take a seat at the piano. Start practicing the A chord and its inversions. Move onto different voicings when you’re ready. I believe in you!