How to Play an E Minor Chord on the Piano

Minor Chords

Let’s look at how to play an E minor, or Em chord on the piano. We’ll also learn the pattern for building any other minor chord.

What Are Minor Chords?

Minor chords are built using the first, third and fifth notes of the matching major scale, but the middle note is lowered 1/2 step (learn how to build a major scale here).

Since we can build major chords with the first, third and fifth notes of the matching major scale, we can think of minor chords as major chords, but with the middle note lowered 1/2 step.

Another way to build a minor chord is to use the first, third and fifth notes of the matching minor scale. And while there are three types of minor scales (natural, harmonic and melodic), it doesn’t matter which scale we use. The first, third and fifth notes of each will be the same.

How to Play an Em Chord

To play an Em chord, we can find the first, third and fifth notes of the E major scale, E – G♯ – B (an E major chord), and lower the middle note 1/2 step: E – G – B

Or we could use the first, third and fifth notes of the E natural minor scale.

Em chord piano

We can use this pattern to build any other minor chord. We can find the first, third and fifth notes of the matching major scale, and lower the middle note 1/2 step. Or we can use the first, third and fifth notes of the matching minor scale.

piano chords chart pdf printable

Chord Types Printable

Learn to play 17 types of piano chords using 12 different root notes with this 35-page PDF! Chords are sorted both by their root note and type.

Other Chord Types

Some other chord types you can learn are:

Major
Augmented
Diminished
Second
Minor Second
Suspended
Fifth
Sixth
Minor Sixth
Seventh
Minor Seventh
Major Seventh
Ninth
Minor Ninth
Major Ninth

Conclusion

Now you know how to build an E minor chord on the piano, and you can use this pattern to build any other minor chord!

Minor chords are lots of fun to use, and lend themselves really well to a more somber and introspective mood.

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4 Comments

  1. livingstone oduor

    hi julie am livingstone i have always followed you and i noticed you are a good tuitor i would really want to learn more from you,kindly share with me your link

    Reply
    • Julie Swihart

      I’m glad it’s helpful! You can opt-in for free charts and piano training emails by using one of the opt-in forms on my blog, under the “freebies” tab in the menu. You can also read through the posts in order under the “Start/Learn Piano” tab to lay a great foundation for learning the piano with chords.

  2. Nelson

    High Ms. Julie Swihart, I follow your channel because I see that you are a great teacher and have the best guide to show how the piano bigging. I want to receive from you a simple answer: How a person like me of 65 years must star to Studie piano by myself? Please…!!!

    Reply
    • Julie Swihart

      Yes, a good place to start would be to read through the numbered posts in order here: https://www.julieswihart.com/learn-piano/ These posts will walk you through the basics for learning the piano with chords, and lay a great foundation. It will take some time, but as you get more comfortable playing different chords and their inversions, you can use them to play chord progressions.

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