• Getting Started With Major Scales (Part 1)

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    If you’re interested in getting started with major scales, this lesson is for you.

    A vast majority of musicians find it challenging to learn and memorize scales on the keyboard. There are 12 notes on the piano:

    So, if you do the math, that’s 12 different major scales to learn. In this lesson, we’ll be defining the major scale and also learning how to play 33% of all the major scales on the keyboard.

    Let’s started!

    “What Is A Major Scale?”

    Although there are several ways to define a scale, a scale according to Jermaine Griggs “…is a succession of notes played/heard in ascending or descending order, based on an intervallic formula.”

    The major scale (just like any other scale) is a product of the succession of notes on the piano in ascending (or descending order. However, the choice of notes in the succession is determined by the “intervallic formula”

    A Short Note On Intervallic Formula

    The intervallic formula is a product of the distance between successive notes in a scale and this is usually determined in whole-steps and half-steps.

    The intervallic formula of the major scale is given thus:

    W W H W W W H

    W representing whole-steps and H representing half-steps.

    The intervallic formula of the major scale can be memorized using the mnemonic below:

    Why

    Won’t

    He

    Wear

    White

    When

    Hot

    Using the mnemonic above, the intervallic formula of the major scale can be memorized, and can be used in the formation of the major scale.

    A Short Note On The Major Scale

    The major scale consists of all the notes in the major key.

    So, for every given major key, there’s a major scale. For example, the C major scale is the major scale in the key of C major and consists of all the notes in the key of C major. The F major scale is the major scale in the key of F major and consists of all the notes in the key of F major.

    Therefore, musicians consider the major scale as an outline of all the notes in a given key and that’s why every serious musician must learn how to play all the major scales on the keyboard – 12 of them.

    A Breakdown Of Some Major Scales

    Now that we’ve defined the major scale, I’ll go ahead and breakdown the following major scales:

    The C major scale

    The F major scale

    The F# or Gb major scale

    The G major scale

    …which are 33% of all the major scales on the keyboard.

    The C major Scale

    The C major scale:

    …consists of all white notes on the keyboard from C to C:

    …and is arguably the easiest scale to play on the keyboard and that’s why most people get started with scales by learning the C major scale.

    The fingering of the C major scale is given as follows:

    C is played with the thumb

    D is played with the index finger

    E is played with the middle finger

    F is played with the thumb

    G is played with the index finger

    A is played with the middle finger

    B is played with the ring finger

    C is played with the pinky finger or thumb

    The F Major Scale

    The F major scale:

    …is almost like the C major scale. Save for the fourth tone (which is a flat note [Bb]):

    …every other scale tone is white in color and that makes it easy to memorize the F major scale:

    The fingering of the F major scale is given as follows:

    F is played with the thumb

    G is played with the index finger

    A is played with the middle finger

    Bb is played with the ring finger

    C is played with the thumb

    D is played with the index finger

    E is played with the middle finger

    F is played with the ring finger or thumb

    The F# Major Scale

    The F# major scale:

    The G Major Scale

    The G major scale:

    Final Words

    I want to recommend that you practice playing these scales slowly on each hand and then increase your practice speed when you can comfortably play by memory and effortless ease.

    In a subsequent lesson, we’ll focus on the major scale in other keys.

    See you then!

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    Hello, I'm Chuku Onyemachi (aka - "Dr. Pokey") - a musicologist, pianist, author, clinician and Nigerian. Inspired by my role model Jermaine Griggs, I started teaching musicians in my neighborhood in April 2005. Today, I'm privileged to work as a music consultant and content creator with HearandPlay Music Group sharing my wealth of knowledge with thousands of musicians across the world.

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