What Is an Em Chord and How to Play It on Piano

Looking to build up your piano chord repertoire?

As you’re mastering the piano, you’ll use simple major and minor chords to form the foundation of a variety of songs in many styles [1].

The E minor chord is the third chord in the C major scale and can be found in everything from Beatles tunes, to Mozart, and beyond.

Let’s cover how to play an Em chord on piano!

Create The Chord

E minor is fairly simple to build, as it consists of only white keys.

Start by playing the root, flat third, and fifth in the E major scale.

The root note is E. The flat third of the scale is G. The fifth note of the scale is B.

These three notes played together make up an em chord triad.

The distance between the root and third is a minor third. The distance between the third and fifth of the chord is a major third.

You might see E minor notated as Em, E min, and E-.

E Minor in Context

As with other minor chords, you’ll use E minor to evoke a sad or somber mood in your playing.

E minor is a chord that occurs naturally in a few different keys.

For example, it is the i chord in the key of E minor and the vi chord in the key of G major. This relationship means that G major and E minor are relative keys.

E minor also occurs naturally in the key of C major, A minor, D major, and B minor.

Piano Fingering for E Minor

To learn to play a root position E minor chord on the piano, let’s start with the right hand [2].

The fingering is simple. Start with your first finger (thumb) on the note E. Place your middle finger on G and your pinky finger on B.

When you play the notes together, the Em chord will ring out.

Inversions and Beyond

E minor can also be played in a few variations to change the tonality of the chord.

These variations are called inversions. We covered root position above.

To play E minor in the first inversion, the notes occur in this order: G, B, E. Use your first finger on G, you’re second on B, and your fifth finger on E.

To play the chord in the second inversion, the notes occur in this order: B, E, G. For this fingering, use your thumb on B, your third finger on E, and your pinky on G.

Using inversions of the E minor chord will make it easier to play in the context of certain songs and keys. If you are ready take a look to D minor chord too.

Nail The Em Chord

Now you’ve got a foundation of how to build the Em chord on the piano, how to play it, and how it will fit into your playing in the future!

Hitting snags learning E minor? Need some more tips? Leave a comment and we can help!

Once you’ve mastered the E minor chord, what will you work on next?

Stephanie Su

Started learning music when she was four years old, Stephanie is a music teacher and a music therapist who is highly proficient in Piano, Violin, Guitar, and Ukulele. She likes to learn, teach, and share her music playing experiences.

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