Are you trying to learn all the major and minor scales on the piano but are slightly confused? You’ve come to the right place! Here we will walk you through each scale and how it’s played on the piano.
The scales on the piano are a vital part of learning the instrument and developing your skills. Perhaps you are struggling with improving your improvisation skills, or are hoping to learn the theory behind the music. As soon as you know about all the major and minor scales on the piano you will make great progress.
What Is a Scale?
A scale in music is simply a collection of notes that are related within the same key. They begin on what is called the ‘Tonic’ note, or the key note. Each scale will represent a key. For example, if you analyze a piece of music and the notes are based on the C Major scale, then the piece of music will be in the key of C Major. On the piano, scales will be played with both hands at the same time, which makes them slightly different than when played on other instruments.
Major scales are usually the first scales you will learn on the piano as they are the most commonly used in everyday music. Pieces in a major key are generally associated with upbeat, happy music. Because of this, you will find a lot of today’s pop music in a major key.
C Major Scale
The first major scale you will learn is the C Major Scale. The C Major scale includes the pitches C, D, E, F, G, A, and B. The C Major scale, in particular, has no sharp or flat notes, so in regards to this, it can be considered one of the easiest major scales to learn and remember. On the piano, the C Major Scale will only consist of the white keys, so you don’t need to be confused by the black keys right now!
Below you can find the written scale in C Major, with the related numbers of fingering under each note.
- Johann Sebastian Bach – Air On The G-String (Level 38)
- John Lennon – Image (Level 41)
- Queen – Love Of My Life (Level 53)
G Major Scale
The second scale we will look at is the G Major Scale. You may be questioning why we would not move on to the D major scale next. The reason for this is because we are working according to the number of sharps in the key signatures. C Major has no sharps in the C Major key signature. G Major has one sharp included in the scale, and this is why we will be learning this scale next.
The G Major scale includes the notes G, A, B, C, D, E, F#, and G. F# is the one sharp that we have in this scale, so keep this in mind when you are practicing! All of the notes will be played on the white keys apart from the F#. For the G Major scale, we will use the same finger pattern as in the C Major Scale.
Below you will find a two-octave G Major scale written with the correct fingers to use underneath each of the notes.
- Johann Pachelbel – Canon in D (Level 40)
- Ed Sheeran- Perfect (Level 41)
- Elton John – Can You Feel The Love Tonight (Level 42)
D Major Scale
Next up is the D Major Scale, which is also a very common key for many popular songs. This scale consists of the notes D, E, F#, G, A, B, C#, and D. The Key signature of the D Major scale on the music stave includes two sharps.
When you are playing the D Major Scale in the right hand (Treble Clef) you will play the initial D with your thumb, and then cross over, using your thumb to play the G note. On the left hand, when you arrive at your third finger, you will then cross your thumb underneath to play the B note.
Below you can find the written music of the scale D Major, and the associated fingers that you should be using for each note.
- Lewis Capaldi – Someone You Loved (Level 39)
- Ennio Morricone – Gabriel’s Oboe (Level 62)
- Frank Sinatra – My Way (Level 41)
A Major Scale
The notes of the A Major scale are A, B, C#, D, E, F#, G#, and A. This scale includes three sharps in its key signature. Below you will find the written scale of A Major, with the fingers you should use for each note while playing the scale on the piano.
- Justin Hurwitz – Mia and Sebastian’s Theme (Level 57)
- Yiruma – River Flows In You (Level 54)
- Carlos Gardel – Por Una Cabeza (Level 70)
The E Major scale is a little more complicated than what we have seen up until now. This scale consists of four sharps, and the notes are E, F#, G#, A, B, C#, D#, and E. So, you will be playing a lot more black keys on this scale!
With E Major you will use the same finger pattern as we have used in the other major scales (crossing your thumb after the third finger on your right hand etc.).
Below you can see the written music of the E Major Scale, with the associated fingers involved. Remember the sharps that are detailed in the key signature!
- Harry Styles – Falling (Level 45)
- Ray Dorset – In The Summertime (Level 45)
- Robbie Williams – Angels (Level 53)
B Major Scale
The B Major scale consists of 5 sharps and the notes are B, C#, D#, E, F#, G#, A#, and B. Below you will find the B Major scale with the fingers you should use included.
- Journey – Don’t Stop Believin’ (Level 54)
- Chris Isaak – Wicked Game (Level 36)
- Andrew Lloyd Webber – Memory (Level 48)
F Major Scale
The F Major scale is a little bit different from the scales previously mentioned, and actually contains one flat in the key signature (B Flat). The notes of the F Major scale are F, G, A, Bflat, C, D, E, and F. The finger positions for the F Major scale is different also. Instead of changing to your thumb after the third note, you should change after the fourth note. In this case, you would play the C with your thumb.
Below is a written F Major scale, in two octaves, with the necessary fingers included under each note.
- Elvis Presley – Can’t Help Falling In Love (Level 45)
- The Beatles – Hey Jude (Level 45)
- Brian Crain – Butterfly Waltz (Level 29)
The Minor scales on the piano are slightly different from major scales. There are three types of Minor scales to learn: Natural Minor scale, Harmonic Minor Scale, and the Melodic Minor Scale. Right now, we will look at the Natural Minor scales as these are the most popular to teach at the beginning of piano learning. These scales are known for their moody, and sometimes sad nature within the music. Minor scales are commonly used in songs which intend to portray an overall somber tone.
A Minor Scale
The A Minor scale is the relative minor scale of C Major. This means that it consists of the same sets of notes (starting on A, however), and has the same key signature. Check out the key of fifth below to see the relation between C Major and A minor. The notes of the A Minor scale are A, B, C, D, E, F, G, and A. It has no sharps or flats included.
Below you will find the A Minor scale with the appropriate fingers to use for each note.
- Idina Menzel – Let It Go (Level 26)
- Frank Sinatra – Fly Me To The Moon (Level 48)
- Frédéric Chopin – Waltz in A Minor (Level 51)
E Minor Scale
The E Minor scale consists of one sharp and the notes are E, F#, G, A, B, C, D, and E. Below you will find the E Minor scale with all the fingers you should use included for each note.
- Joseph Kosma – Autumn Leaves (Level 54)
- Alan Walker – Faded (Level 42)
- Billie Eilish – No Time To Die (Level 58)
B Minor Scale
The B Minor scale includes 2 sharps and consists of the notes B, C#, D, E, F#, G, A, and B. The relative major of B Minor is D Major.
- George Gershwin – Summertime (Level 60)
- Luis Fonsi – Despacito (Level 51)
- Edvard Grieg – In The Hall Of The Mountain King (Level 69)
D Minor Scale
The D Minor Scale is slightly different as it does not include any sharps. Instead, it includes one flat, the B Flat. The relative major of D Minor is F Major. The notes that make up the D Minor scale are D, E, F, G, A, Bflat, C, and D.
Below you can find the D Minor scale with the associated fingers to be used.
- Anonymous – Bella Ciao (Level 55)
- Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart – Requiem in D Minor, KV 626: Lacrimosa (Level 47)
- John Newton – Amazing Grace (Level 33)
The relative major of the G Minor scale is Bflat Major. G Minor consists of two flats, Bflat and Eflat. The notes used in the G Minor scale are G, A, Bflat, C, D, Eflat, and F. Below you will find the G Minor scale with the appropriate fingers to be used.
- Klaus Badelt, Hans Zimmer – He’s A Pirate (Level 36)
- John Williams – Hedwig’s Theme (Level 48)
- Queen – Bohemian Rhapsody (Level 66)
The C Minor scale is the relative minor to Eflat Major. The C Minor scale consists of three flats and the notes are C, D, Eflat, F, G, Aflat, Bflat, and C. Below you can find the C Minor scale with the fingers that should be used for each note.
- Justin Hurwitz – Another Day Of The Sun (Level 59)
- Toploader – Dancing In The Moonlight (Level 50)
- Adele – Skyfall (Level 46)
The F Minor Natural scale consists of four flats and the notes are F, G, Aflat, Bflat, C, Dflat, Eflat and F. The relative major of F Minor is Aflat Major. Below you can find the F Minor scale with the fingers you should use for each note.
- Robert Miles – Children (Level 41)
- Erik Satie – Gnossienne No. 1 (Level 54)
- Antonio Vivaldi – L’Inverno – Winter, Op. 8, RV 297 (Level 80)
Although this list of major and minor scales is not exhaustive, as there are many more variants of scales to learn on the piano, it will give you a great foundation to begin learning some music theory and practicing improvisation. Once you have learned these scales from memory, improvising, and playing along to your favorite songs by ear will become so much easier. If you want to learn more about scales dive deep and look at blues scales and jazz scales.
Download all Major and Minor scales as free PDF