• The Second Step To Take While Learning How To Play The Piano

    in Beginners,Piano,Scales,Theory

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    Today, I’ll be showing you the second step you should take while learning how to play the piano.

    In the first lesson, we did a proper introduction and covered a few terms like whole step, half step, etc. In this second lesson, we’ll be focusing a lot more on the musical scale.

    Let me till the ground by giving you an overview of melody.

    Overview Of Melody

    Melody is the tune of a song. At one point or the other you must have whistled a melody while driving, cooking, or doing any other activity. Melody is also that part of a song that helps us recognize what song is being played.

    Whenever you hear a beautiful piano solo, you don’t need to be told what song it is that is being played, and that’s because the ear is naturally wired to pick out the melody. You don’t need a masters degree in music to be able to pick out and recognize a melody.

    It’s possible to hear any melody on radio, in church, in your favorite albums and play them on the keyboard. Believe it or not, the same way you can determine what day of the week it is in a calendar by knowing the number of days:

    • Sunday
    • Monday
    • Tuesday
    • Wednesday
    • Thursday
    • Friday
    • Saturday

    The notes of a melody (from the simplest, to the most complex) can be determined by knowing scales.

    A scale is an arrangement of notes in ascending or descending order (same way days are arranged [in ascending order] to form a week).

    If we consider notes as days:

    • C as Sunday
    • D as Monday
    • E as Tuesday
    • F as Wednesday
    • G as Thursday
    • A as Friday
    • B as Saturday
    Week Day Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
    Note C D E F G A B

    Same way a collection of 7 days gives us a week, a collection of these seven notes can form a scale. The only difference is that notes can ascend and descend while week days can only ascend.

    To take you further in today’s lesson, let’s learn about the musical scale.

    The Musical Scale

    What is a scale?

    A scale is an arrangement of notes in ascending or descending order using the melodic progressions we covered in your first piano lesson.

    Permit me at this juncture to give you a quick review of melodic progressions.

    Quick Review of Melodic Progressions

    Semitone (aka – “half step”) is the shortest musical distance from one finger key to its adjacent finger key (whether white or black).

    From C:

    …to the adjacent black note – C# (aka – “Db”):

    …is a semitone.

    From C#:

    …to the adjacent white note – D:

    …is a semitone.

    Did you notice that there are no notes in between half steps? In each case, it’s from one finger key to the other.

    The terms semitone and half step will be used interchangeably in this lesson.

    Wholetone (aka – “whole step”) consists of twice the distance of a semitone.

    Don’t forget this…

    It takes two half steps to produce a whole step

    From C to D:

    …is a wholetone.

    From C# to D# (two adjacent notes):

    …is a wholetone.

    The terms wholetone and whole step will be used interchangeably in this lesson.

    The Major scale

    A series of white notes from C to C:

    …produces the major scale.

    The scale above is known as the C major scale and this is because the first tone of this scale is C.

    Let me take you deeper. Let’s consider the distance between the notes of the major scale.

    C to D:

    …this is a whole step. In between C and D is C# (which is a half step from C).

    D to E:

    …this is a whole step. In between D and E is D# (which is a half step from D).

    E to F:

    …this is a half step. This is because E and F are adjacent to each other.

    F to G:

    …this is a whole step. In between F and G is F# (which is a half step from F).

    G to A:

    …this is a whole step. In between G and A is G# (which is a half step from G).

    A to B:

    …this is a whole step. In between A and B is A# (which is a half step from A).

    B to C:

    …this is a half step. This is because B and C are adjacent to each other.

    If we put our considerations so far in a tabular form, we’ll have

    Scale Steps

    Distance

    C to D

    Whole step

    D to E

    Whole step

    E to F

    Half step

    F to G

    Whole step

    G to A

    Whole step

    A to B

    Whole step

    B to C

    Half step

     

    There are basically two places with half steps in the entire major scale…

    Between the third and fourth (E to F):

    …and between the seventh and eighth (B to C):

    The distance between every other scale tone is in whole steps.

    Before we get into the next segment, let me show a mnemonic that can help you remember the respective distances between the tones of the major scale.

    Say this phrase aloud:

    “Why Won’t He Wear White When Hot?”

    Again:

    Why Won’t He Wear White When Hot?”

    If we highlight the first letter of each word in the phrase you just said, we’ll have:

    W W H W W W H

    Did you know that if we represent whole step with W and half step with H, we can use the “Why Won’t He Wear White When Hot?” phrase to represent the respective distance between scale tones?.

    Here’s a similar table to the one you saw earlier. In this table, W represents whole step while H represents half step.

    Scale Steps

    Distance

    Phrase

    C to D

    W

    Why

    D to E

    W

    Won’t

    E to F

    H

    He

    F to G

    W

    Wear

    G to A

    W

    White

    A to B

    W

    When

    B to C

    H

    Hot

     

    For every other major scale on the keyboard, you can apply this mnemonic to them as well.

    1st and 2nd scale steps – Why

    2nd and 3rd scale steps – Won’t

    3rd and 4th scale steps – He

    4th and 5th scale steps – Wear

    5th and 6th scale steps – White

    6th and 7th scale steps – When

    7th and 8th scale steps – Hot

    Here’s An Effective Way To Play 50% of Major Scales

    Although there are 12 major scales on the piano, we’ll be covering only six of them in this second piano lesson – and that’s pretty much 50% of all the scales.

    These major scales will be covered in white keys.

    #1 – C major scale

    The C major scale has all white notes from C to C. This makes it one of the easiest scales to play.

    Below is the C major scale:

    If you’re probably wondering what fingers to use,

    C = Thumb

    D = Index finger

    E = Middle finger

    F = Thumb

    G = Index finger

    A = Middle finger

    B = Ring finger

    C = Pinky finger

    #2 – G major scale

    In the major scale of G, you’ll see 6 white notes in a row, followed by a black note as the seventh note.

    Below is the G major scale:


    Here’s its fingering:

    G = Thumb

    A = Index finger

    B = Middle finger

    C = Thumb

    D = Index finger

    E = Middle finger

    F# = Ring finger

    G = Pinky finger

    Pretty much the same fingering with C major scale

    #3 – D major scale

    Apart from the third and seventh scale tones, every other scale tone in the D major scale is a white note.

    Below is the D major scale:

    D major scale can be played using the same fingering for C and G major scales:

    D = Thumb

    E= Index finger

    F# = Middle finger

    G = Thumb

    A = Index finger

    B = Middle finger

    C# = Ring finger

    D = Pinky finger

    #4 – A major scale

    Here’s the A major scale:

    If you’re probably wondering what fingers to use,

    A = Thumb

    B = Index finger

    C# = Middle finger

    D = Thumb

    E = Index finger

    F# = Middle finger

    G# = Ring finger

    A = Pinky finger

    #5 – E major scale

    Here’s the E major scale:

    Here you are with the fingering details,

    E = Thumb

    F# = Index finger

    G# = Middle finger

    A = Thumb

    B = Index finger

    C# = Middle finger

    D# = Ring finger

    E = Pinky finger

    #6 – B major scale

    Apart from the first and fourth scale tones, every other scale tone in the B major scale is a black note.

    Below is the B major scale:

    Stick to the same fingering:

    B = Thumb

    C# = Index finger

    D# = Middle finger

    E = Thumb

    F# = Index finger

    G# = Middle finger

    A# = Ring finger

    B = Pinky finger

    Final Words

    Although the major scale has eight notes, it can create an endless universe of melodies with rhythmic varieties. We’ll be applying our knowledge of the major scale that we covered in this lesson to the determination of melodies in another lesson.

    See you in another post!

     

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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 the head of education, music consultant, and chief content creator with HearandPlay Music Group sharing my wealth of knowledge with hundreds of thousands of musicians across the world.

    Attention: To learn more about this, I recommend our 500+ page course: The "Official Guide To Piano Playing." Click here for more information.




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    { 1 comment… read it below or add one }

    1 joann

    hello I want to know how can I improve my playing. I’m still a little too slow .

    Reply

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