Piano scales – learn how to play scales on piano

learn piano scales

Piano scales

Major, minor & other scales

Piano scales – overviews and instructions

Piano scales are valuable knowledge for every person playing the piano. It is the theory behind that will help you understand things like for example chords. Playing scales can also be a great way to improving your technique, and serve as building block for creating melodies.

Because of the relationship of notes in certain scales, they will always sound well played together. A fact that makes scales a primary foundation for everyone who wants to improvise on the instrument. This can be done just by playing the white keys as in the C Major Scale, or it can be more advanced by, for example, using modus for jazz improvisation. Therefore, you shouldn’t consider scales as some boring and dull stuff – it can be your step up to a new level of playing. In addition, training at scales will make your fingers stronger. This in combination with your increasing knowledge about how the tones relates will make you capable to play faster.

On this site you can learn lots of piano scales and receive tips explaining how to use them. It is boring just to memorize if you don’t understand the use of it … Therefore, the idea is to always provide the musical context for the scale and not just hand over the tones.

In the menu, you will find different categories of piano scales and also resources like printable scales and useful tools like explanations of correct fingering. At last there are exercises and some words about the theory of piano scales.

New scale with pictures and theory: Mixo-blues Scale
A useful tool for all blues aficionados.

New article: Harmonizing Dorian scales into chords
Harmonizing the Dorian scales in different keys into chords.

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How to define scales

Scales are a collection of tones that belong together, they can also belong to a certain key. This relationship is also true about chords – but the difference between chords and scales is that a scale normally consists of more notes, which are not played simultaneously as often is the case with chords.

A scale is a collection of notes that have a musical connection and are building blocks for chords and starting-points for improvisation. By knowing and recognizing scales, you will be able to place a song in a musical context and as a result be able to play it with less effort. Knowing scales on the piano can, of course, also assist you in composing your own music.

Attitudes toward scales

As mentioned above, this part of your piano education is sometimes given negative connotations: scales are intruding on your freedom of creativity and things like that. The truth is that scales aren’t about strict rules, but more like a background in your practice. (As a footnote atonal music could be mentioned here, that is a reaction against the tonal music).

Exactly which scales you should focus upon will depend on the musical styles that interest you. But generally, it is a good advice to learn the common Major Scale considering how common they are in piano music. Important to study is also the Minor Scale which exist in three different versions – the natural, the harmonic and the melodic. Don’t worry, they are almost similar but the distinctions will give you new possibilities. The Pentatonic scales are also common, and in some styles the modal scales are frequently used.

The keyboard

The piano has 88 keys that are put together on a keyboard. As shown in the picture below the keyboard on a piano is symmetrical arranged in twelve – seven white and five black – keys that are repeated (some exceptions are shown in the left and right ends). These keys are also ordered in octaves that makes eight notes. Every interval between two notes of the same tone, like a C to a higher C, is an octave.

Playing piano is often done by reading notes. Below you can see an illustration of notes on a staff – here as the scale of D major.

On this site you can find exercises with scales written in notes.

The pictures that illustrate the scales on this site are protected by copyright and are not allowed to be used or published without permission.

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