• Major Scales Crash Course

    in Scales

    If someone asked you, “what is a scale?” … would you be able to answer them?

    Scales are important. They are the basis of melodies and chords. Without knowing your scales, you are a car mechanic without his tools.

    What are scales? A good way to define a scale is to list the following characteristics:

    -A scale is an organized series of pitches
    -A scale utilizes accidentals, when necessary
    -A scale consist of a series of notes that differ in sound
    -A scale is linked to the concept of “Keys” in that a song which utilizes a given scale is said to be in that key (For example: “Mary had a little lamb in C major”).

    In our 300-pg course, we teach the following principle:

    A major scale has 8 tones. The (C major scale) is: C-D-E-F-G-A-B-C. In other words, the (C major scale) consists of all the white keys in between to the “C” notes.

    It is very important that you remember this poem:

    “Half steps are from key to key with NO keys in between,
    Whole steps always skip a key with ONE key in between.”

    (H) Half Step: key to key (for example, C to C# is a half step because there are no skipped notes)

    (W) Whole step: every other key (for example C to D because C# is skipped —- or F to G because F# is skipped).

    The major scale is built using the following pattern:


    (Just remember this shortcut I made up: “Why Won’t He Wear White When Hot” (WWHWWWH).

    For example, in C major:

    C to D is a whole step (w).
    D to E is a whole step (w).

    However, E to F is a half step (h).

    F to G is a whole step (w).
    G to A is a whole step (w).
    A to B is a whole step (w) and …

    B to C is a half step (h).

    With this principle, you should be able to learn your major scales in all 12 keys! Just start with the first note and build on top of it.

    C = C + D + E + F + G + A + B + C

    You try the rest …

    Db = __ + __ + __ + __ + __ + __ + __ + __
    D = __ + __ + __ + __ + __ + __ + __ + __
    Eb = __ + __ + __ + __ + __ + __ + __ + __
    E = __ + __ + __ + __ + __ + __ + __ + __
    F = __ + __ + __ + __ + __ + __ + __ + __
    Gb = __ + __ + __ + __ + __ + __ + __ + __
    G = __ + __ + __ + __ + __ + __ + __ + __
    Ab = __ + __ + __ + __ + __ + __ + __ + __
    A = __ + __ + __ + __ + __ + __ + __ + __
    Bb = __ + __ + __ + __ + __ + __ + __ + __
    B = __ + __ + __ + __ + __ + __ + __ + __



    C = C D E F G A B C
    Db = Db Eb F Gb Ab Bb C Db
    D = D E F# G A B C# D
    E = E F# G# A B C# D# E
    F = F G A Bb C D E F
    Gb = Gb Ab Bb Cb Db Eb F Gb
    G = G A B C D E F# G
    Ab = Ab Bb C Db Eb F G Ab
    A = A B C# D E F# G# A
    Bb = Bb C D Eb F G A bb
    B = B C# D# E F# G# A# B

    Things to note: Every letter is used (A B C D E F G A) in order, none are skipped. None are used twice. This is how you know you’re using the right notes (C# vs Db or D# vs Eb, etc).

    Thank you for your time!

    The following two tabs change content below.
    Hi, I'm Jermaine Griggs, founder of this site. We teach people how to express themselves through the language of music. Just as you talk and listen freely, music can be enjoyed and played in the same way... if you know the rules of the "language!" I started this site at 17 years old in August 2000 and more than a decade later, we've helped literally millions of musicians along the way. Enjoy!

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


    { 32 comments… read them below or add one }

    1 Greg Esser

    I was stupid and have forgotten my username and password. I filled out the registration and forgot to write it down.
    I also filled out my profile so when I go to my 60 free lessons, I cannot sign in. Please help,
    Greg Esser
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    2 Hearandplay

    Greg, e-mail us at webmaster (at) hearandplay.com


    3 david

    please how do i get a personal piano teacher


    4 chieng

    It is easy to understand. Really appreciate. May God bless you.


    5 Bryan

    I think , and hope, that I’ve understood it. Thank you.


    6 Danny Gyamfi

    It is very nice to go through your lessons. God Bless you


    7 patrick ashu

    Question: could u please explain these characteristics of a scale? i can’t put to practice any of these characteristics


    8 Sierra Womack

    Thank you!
    I think I got it now :)


    9 veeloveorange

    thanks for all the notes.. it is really helpful~ ^^).. god bless you guys for your wonderful works!!


    10 domineaux

    I think it would be better to have a virtual keyboard tester instead of blanks we cannot fill in. That is for those of us who do not have a keyboard in front of us. Like sitting in front of piano and computer cannot be used close enough to piano.

    Also, I think this is important enough that it would require “ALOT” of practice.


    11 mr umoh

    thanks this really useful to me.
    though i know already but forgotten.
    may God bless you


    12 bri

    i also think it would be better to have a virtual keyboard. And i want to learn how to read sheet music does that come up later? thnks:)


    13 bri

    ummmm.. how does it take for me to get a reply? thnks for the lesson it is a miricle that it is free


    14 Neeyah

    Man thnx this realli hlps… God bless u


    15 promarck

    u are the man God bless!!!!!!!!!!!


    16 Sharoon

    It is very very easier than any other sites


    17 margaret



    18 ugo ezeh

    I appreciate so much, I have read a lot in this site and understood virtually all I read. You are a wonderful teacher. You can’t believe it , I have composed a wonderful and sweet song I play to my my sisters and brothers. They all love this song and I will like u to hear it. This song is gonna be a world hit. pls u need to hear it ! Call me: 234 803313602


    19 Allan Mckenzie

    im 57 yrs of age, two weeks time im really starting to getting
    to play scales,please bro Jermaine i need your help as only one young minister
    knows how to play and he preaches as well,get me to understand
    the cords,


    20 nsikak

    keep it up i love you


    21 david

    please i want to have a personal piano teacher. is it possible?


    22 ranti

    thank you.


    23 Meva

    Wow, this is so interesting and so overwhelming at the same time. However, I am determined. Thank you for the lessons. My question is, how do I get to the 60 free lessons?


    24 tonie linson

    This is what I am doing. I am taking a break because I am diligently studying Whole Steps and Half Steps. I wrote on my paper WWHWWWH and I have done all the major scales using this pattern. I am taking my time as I learn how to do the pattern with all 12 keys. I am learning the major keys at this time, once I have learned the major keys for memory then I will move on to the sharps. It will take some time but I am willing to hang on in there and thanks Mr. Griggs.


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