How Beginner Piano Players Can Use The Circle of Fifths!

Using The Circle Of Fifths As A Beginner Piano Student

Whether you are a composer … or a beginner piano student there is a fantastic tool that helps you know what chords sound good together. The Circle of Fifths!

If you are just clicking on this article and have never played piano before, just wait a moment. I would recommend you read the articles on putting Major and minor chords together (part 1 and part 2) so you have a better understanding of what is covered here.

Who Can Use The Circle of Fifths?

One of our twins decided he wanted to learn guitar shortly before Christmas. And while he had a clear idea of what he did not want to learn at first, his teacher has been fantastic with helping him see possibilities and trying new things. For myself, it’s been a great introduction to being on the parent side of lessons!

While we play different instruments, the music theory is the same. Just the application of the concepts. One day, I shared with him a tool that allows him to create music on his guitar. Even as someone who has only played for 3 months. And, even though I don’t play guitar at all. It’s the Circle of Fifths!

Creating your own music right from the start is a fantastic way to get to know your instrument and understand the structure of the music you are playing. Creating music as a learning tool is very much a part of my teaching in this series.

What Is The Circle of Fifths?

Many of us have relatives. Some of which we are closer to than others. Musical chords are the same way.

The Circle of Fifths shows us how chords are related, which ones love spending time together, and which ones prefer a once a year visit.

For the purposes of this article, we are sticking with the ones that love spending time together. The Circle of Fifths is a fantastic tool with a lot of information. But, as a beginner it can quickly become overwhelming if you look at all its facets.

I would recommend watching the video below (or click here) to see this and the following tips in action.

Finding Close Chords:

Do you like pie? Or perhaps cake?

Imagine the shape of a piece of pie or cake. When placed on top of the Circle of Fifths, this pie shape quickly shows the chords that work well together!

The great part about this approach is you can quickly find chords in any key making it a shorthand approach to sounding great on the piano even as a beginner piano player.

To see this “pie”, watch the video above (or click here).

Make Your Own Song!

If you want to make a song in C Major, visualize a pie slice centered over the C Major. Which chords do you see?

You would see:

  • F Major
  • G Major
  • A minor
  • D minor
  • E minor

By starting and ending your song on the C Major chord you create a strong start and finish for the listener. It makes all the other chords make sense because you are starting and ending at “home”.

As for the chords in between? You can play any of the chords above in any order!

I would recommend start with trying 2 – 3 chords (beyond your ‘home’ chord). This makes it interesting, but not overwhelming to remember. Write down the chords you like the best.

Once you have you have the chords you like, play these with rhythms and add a melody.

I would recommend watching the video above (or click here) to see this in action.

Using The Circle of Fifths As A Beginner Piano Student

The Circle of Fifths helps you instantly see how chords are related. It’s a shortcut to sound great on the piano and practice different skills while you are at it. That being said, this was a very basic introduction to an incredible powerful musical tool!

Which other questions do you have about the Circle of Fifths?

If you like this approach to learning piano, click to set up an interview to join our online piano studio!

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