Minor finger positions and minor chords can be related to the major keys that the student has already learned. To create the five finger position for the minor or minor chord, begin with the major position and move the middle finger (degree 3) down the nearest key (one semi-tone/half-step). The nearest key can be either black or white.
Have the piano student practice parallel major and minor chords in various rhythms. When changing chords he should not look down at the keyboard. He should form a mental picture of the chord shape and arrange his fingers this way.
Optimally, each new class in theory should be accompanied by ear training drills. Use ear training games to distinguish between major and minor tonality. At first the student can sing the tones while the piano teacher plays minor positions or chords. Emphasize the minor third. Next have the student listen to a chord and tell if it is a major or minor. Lastly, play several chords in a row (major, minor, minor, major) all in the same key, and have the student ascertain what was played. Later, play the same pattern, but change the first tone of each chord (CM Am Gm EM).
The student can then create little tunes based on major and minor scale fragments and their chords.
For more information about piano instruction in Basking Ridge, contact Barbara Ehrlich Piano Studio.