10 Standard Left Hand Patterns for Piano Explained


There is a fantastic video on youtube that Ken Larkin of www.pianobible.com put together that breaks down 10 standard left hand patterns for piano. All of the patterns are played in the key of C, progressing from the C chord, to the F chord, to the G chord, back to the C chord. There is a bit of variance, but only the C, F, and G chords are used (I, IV, and V chords). He plays the left-hand only pattern first, then he incorporates a melody in the right hand together with the left hand pattern. The melody stays the same through all ten patterns, adjusting for the tempo of the left hand pattern. This is great, because it allows you to see just how much the rhythm affects the music.

However, this is a visual only video. So many people are blessed to learn by visual only, but I am a technical learner, so for all of you other techies out there, I watched the video over and over and wrote down the numerical pattern, according to the chord. The chord number pattern that is established is the same pattern that is used in all 3 of the chords throughout the rhythm pattern that is being played.

For instance, the first left hand rhythm pattern that is show is the Basic Walking Pattern #1. He plays the C chord like this: C, E, G, and A. He plays this four times in a row. Then he switches to the F Chord, and so he plays F, A, C, D twice, then switches back to the C chord, then he moves up to the G chord and plays G, B, D, E. Therefore, the chord’s number pattern that is used is 1, 3, 5, and 6.

C Chord

F Chord

G Chord

Here are the 10 Standard Left Hand Patterns Explained

I am not documenting how many times he played each chord. This documentation only gives you the notes that were hit when he changed chords.

Basic Walking Pattern #1

1     3     5     6

C    E    G    A

F    A    C    D

G    B    D    E

Basic Shuffle Pattern #1 (comma means play at the same time)

1,5     1,5     1,6     1,6

C,G    C,G    C,A    C,A

F,C    F,C    F,D    F,D

G,D    G,D    G,E    G,E

Basic Shuffle Pattern #2

1,5     1,5      3b     3     1,5     1,5     1,6     1,5

C,G    C,G    Eb    E    C,G    C,G    C,A    C,A

F,C    F,C    Ab    A    F,C    F,C    F,D    F,C

G,D    G,D    Bb    B    G,D    G,D    G,E    G,E

Jerry Lee Lewis

1     1     3     1     5     1     6     1

C    C    E    C    G    C    A    C

F    F    A    F    C    F    D    F

G    G    B    G    D    G    E    G

Fats Domino #1

1     8     3     5     3     5

C    C    E    G    E    G

F    F    A    C    A    F

G    G    B    D    B    G

Fats Domino #2

1     3     5     5     3     5

C    E    G    G    E    G

F    A    C    C    A    C

G    B    D    D    B    G

Bumble Boogie (Don’t let the sharp throw you. The 4 of the F chord is Bb, so the 4 sharped will be B.)

1     8     3     4     4#     5     4     5

C    C    E    F    F#    G    F    G

F    F    A    Bb    B    C    Bb    C

G    G    B    C    C#    D    C    D

Basic Country Pattern (the negative means down an octave)

1     3,5     -5     3,5

C    E,G    G    E,G

F    A,C    C    A,C

G    B,D    D    B,D

Country Swing Pattern

1     5     6     5

C    G    A    G

F    C    D    C

G    D    E    D


1     1     3     3     5     7b     7b     5

C    C    E    E    G    Bb    Bb    G

F    F    A    A    C    Eb    Eb    C

G    G    B    B    D    F    F    D

Hopefully, some of you found this helpful. I believe that in order to be truly successful on the piano (or any musical instrument) that you must learn the foundation of this musical language. If you need help transposing these rhythms into another key besides C, you may be interested in the 12 Major Keys with Chords Diagram.
Please let me know if I made a mistake any of my documentation.


15 thoughts on “10 Standard Left Hand Patterns for Piano Explained

  1. Thank you *very* much for doing this. As another “techie learner” (and absolute beginner at the piano), I was sitting there wondering how long it was going to take me to work out the patterns and write them down. You can imagine my relief when I saw your note. I’m constantly amazed at the number of people who want to play an instrument without learning the most basic music theory, or even learning to read music. I’ve started on piano (at age 67) because I’ve gone back to playing the guitar after a 30 year lapse and wanted more theory to help improve my playing. The piano is much easier than the guitar for that purpose.

  2. Basic Shuffle Pattern #2: I believe the last beat of each measure is “1,6 & 1,6” so IV ends with “F,D & F,D”.
    Fats Domino #1: I believe the last beat of each measure is “3 & 5” so IV ends with “A & C”.

  3. I made sheet music of the melody and all ten bass lines; let me know if you’d care for a copy. I created it with MuseScore, so I can send it as pdf, png, MusicXML or any of a number of other formats. If you have time to play with it, MuseScore is pretty decent for writing sheet music. The learning curve is steep, but it’s free and works well enough once you’re used to it’s view of the music universe.

    • I am in my mid 60s and learning piano too. I have passed my first exam and will be doing another one next year. Would you be so kind as to send me a pdf copy of the music for the bass lines and the melody by email please? It would help me a great deal. Please reply by email as to whether this is possible. Thank you. MusicFanatic.

      • Hello, I deleted an email from wordpress.com thinking it was span. Is it possible to re-send please?

    • I am learning music at this late stage and would be ever so grateful if you could kindly send me the sheet music for the melody and the bass lines in MuseScore. Thank you. Music Lover.

    • Hi John, I would sincerely appreciate a pdf copy of the melody and the bass lines. You can send it to my email address.
      I am also a piano dabbler at the age of 75, having years ago started out playing trumpet. The piano is not too loud for the neighbours, the trumpet would be a killer and anyway I’m not up to it any longer.
      I am many miles away from you in Kwa Zulu Natal, South Africa but really would like you to send the pdf copy.
      Kind regards,
      John Ford

    • Greetings from Poland. Could you send me a pdf copy of the sheet music for the melody please. I would be very grateful.

  4. Pingback: piano rhythmic pattern | Pghboemike's Blog

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