Learn all the major scales! Piano scale fingerings for practice
Learning to play piano scales? We’ve put together this ultimate resource to help you succeed in playing all major scales on piano! First, watch the video with Mr. Hoffman demonstrating each 2-octave scale, posted below. Then, explore the tips and tricks for mastering major scales on piano. Finally, we’ve included a free downloadable Major Scales Piano Guide with fingerings. Happy playing!
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Video: How to Play All Major Scales on Piano
In this video, Mr. Hoffman demonstrates how to play each 2-octave scale on the piano. To find a particular scale, browse the video’s chapters by selecting the bullet-point icon.
How many major scales are there?
There are twelve major scales, just like there are twelve chromatic notes! These are A, Bb, B, C, C#/Db, D, Eb, E, F, F#/Gb, G, and Ab.
What is the formula for playing a major scale on piano?
Did you know that it’s easy to build major scales on piano, especially if you already know your pentascales? If you’re familiar with the A major pentascale, you know that you need to play A-B-C#-D-E. These are the first five notes of an A major scale, which follow this pattern of whole and half steps: W-W-H-W. To complete the octave scale, simply take the final note of the A major pentascale, which is E, and build its major pentascale: E-F#-G#-A-B. Now get rid of the final note (B) and add the first four notes of the A major pentascale to the first four notes of the E major pentascale: A-B-C#-D–E-F#-G#-A. All together, the major octave scale is built with this pattern of whole and half steps: W-W-H–W–W-W-H.
What is the difference between a major scale on piano and minor scales on piano?
Have you ever wondered what the difference between major and minor octave scales are? Did you know that there are actually several different types of minor scales? We just learned that major octave scales can be built using pentascales and use the pattern W-W-H–W–W-W-H. Natural minor octave scales follow the pattern W-H-W–W–H-W-W. To come up with this scale on the piano, I like to take the major scale and lower the 3rd, 6th, and 7th scale notes, meaning that the C#, F#, and G# from A major all become natural notes in A minor. Now, we have just A-B-C-D-E-F-G-A. This is called a natural minor scale!
There is also something called a harmonic minor scale. To come up with this scale, we take the natural minor scale and raise the 7th scale note. In A natural minor, this is G, which now becomes G#! The entire A harmonic minor scale is A-B-C-D-E-F-G#-A.
Tips & Tricks for Mastering Major Scales: Piano Guide
Basic Fingering for Piano Scales: Almost half of all major and minor scales use “basic” fingering. Check out C major to see what that pattern looks like in the right hand and left hand. Put a star next to every scale that uses the same fingering – but be careful! A couple of scales, like F major and B major, use basic fingering in ONE hand, but different fingering in the other.
Are there rules to follow for playing major piano scales?
When playing major and minor scales on piano (one octave or more), it’s important to remember that your thumbs and pinkies never play the black keys! That’s why we can’t just use basic fingering for every scale on the piano, but that doesn’t mean these other scales have to be difficult! Scales that use all 5 black keys (B, F-sharp/G-flat, and C-sharp/D-flat major) have their own predictable patterns:
- Every set of 2 black keys are played by fingers 2-3 on the right hand and 3-2 on the left hand.
- Sets of 3 black keys are played by fingers 2-3-4 on the right hand and 4-3-2 on the left hand.
- Finger 1 (the thumb) is only used on white keys for these piano scales.
Download The Major Scales Piano Guide
Need a quick reference for the notes and fingerings of all 12 major scales on the piano? Major scales can be played more easily with our guide. Hoffman Academy has you covered with our Major Scales Piano Guide! This guide is perfect for anyone who’s learned how to play 2-octave scales and just needs an easy way to check notes and piano fingerings. If you’re looking for a more in-depth tutorial on playing 1- or 2-octave piano scales, we have lesson videos for those starting in Unit 9!