Introduction to First Inversion Triads

Introduction to First Inversion Triads

David Matthews
[email protected]
North Hills High School

TI:ME Technology Areas Addressed:

Electronic Musical Instruments
Notation Software
Instructional Software


High School


Music Theory


Dell Computers with Audiophile 2496 sound cards; Yamaha PSR keyboards and Behringer mixers; Finale and Band-in-a-Box software


40 Minutes

Prior Knowledge and Skills:

The students have studied root position tonic, subdominant and dominant triads. They understand that a triad is comprised of a root, third and fifth.

MENC Standards Addressed:

MENC 4: Composing and Arranging Music within specified guidelines.
MENC 6: Listening to, analyzing and describing music.


A computer projector and sound amplification system is needed at the teacher workstation. The students and the teacher will need the Chord Inversion document.


1. The students will recognize, play and enter into Finale, a root position C major triad.
2. The students will recognize, play and enter into Finale a first inversion C Major triad.
3. The students will apply this knowledge to other major and minor triads.
4. The students will apply this knowledge to simple chord progressions.


Part 1: (10 minutes)
1. The teacher will project the Chord Inversion document on the screen and the students will have the document open on their computers.
2. The teacher will lead the students to play a root position C Major triad with their left hand, using a 5-3-1 fingering with 5 on C, 3 on E and 1 on G (as shown in the document).
3. The teacher will lead the students to lift their 5th finger from the C key and place the first finger of their right hand on the C an octave higher. A first inversion C Major triad has been created.
4. The process will be repeated using an F Major and D minor triads, in root position and then in first inversion.
5. The students can now be shown the correct fingering (5-2-1) for the first inversion triad.

Part 2: (10 minutes)
The class will identify examples of triads by name and inversion.

Part 3: (20 minutes)
Using speedy note entry, the students will enter the sample C Major chord progressions using all root position triads and then first inversion triads. Triads should be labeled using the chord tool; attention should be paid to bass notes.


Students will be evaluated on the basis of correct entry on triad notes and correct labeling of chords. In both categories, 90% accuracy will be Advanced, 80% accuracy will be considered Proficient and 75 accuracy will be considered Basic.

Follow Up:

Follow-up lessons will reinforce root position and first inversion triads, in isolation and in simple progressions. Second inversion triads will be added as students become confident.

Items to Purchase:

A computer projector and amplification at the teacher station is very helpful.

When budget should be submitted:

Preliminary budgets must be submitted in January for the following school year.

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