How do you play a C-Major Scale?
It doesn’t matter whether you’re taking keyboarding lessons online or in person, C-Major will be the first scale every beginner starts with and will come back to time and time again. C-Major is also commonly referred to as the key of C. Great composers, such as Amadeus Mozart and Joseph Haydn, wrote nearly all of their masses in C-Major as well as using it for some of their symphonies. But C-Major didn’t just impress the white-haired-wig-wearing crowd; it also conjured up a certain feeling according to some musicians. Bob Dylan famously believed C-Major to “be the key of strength, but also the key of regret.” Western musical theory is grounded in C-Major, so it’s only logical when you learn to play the keyboard, you begin with C-Major.
What is the C-Major Scale?
C-Major is a major scale based on C as the tonic and is comprised of the pitches C, D, E, F, G, A, and B. There are eight notes in the scale, and every note is natural on the C-Major scale, meaning it does not have any sharps or flats. It begins at the note C and plays up to the next C, an octave above on the keyboard. C-Major is one of the most common key signatures used in music and is commonly the first scale learned on the keyboard.
Why is the C-Major Scale So Popular?
The biggest reason C-Major is usually the first scale beginners learn is that it only uses the white keys, therefore, has no sharps or flats. It also helps those taking keyboarding lessons online as it makes many aspects of learning simpler such as reading music, memorizing notes, understanding theory, and learning harmony and chord progressions to name a few.
Fingerings is the term that refers to the position of the hand and fingers when playing the keyboard. When learning and exercising the scales, as we are doing now, we use the right fingerings. This will set your foundation in the development of proper techniques. Some piano sheets and instructional guides will tell you which fingers to use by assigning them a number as seen below. No matter which hand you are using, the number always lines up in accordance with the type of finger (or thumb) it is.
1 = thumb
2 = index finger
3 = middle finger
4 = ring finger
5 = little finger
How to Play the C-Major Scale
As a beginner, Middle C will be your anchor when playing the keyboard. It is located in the very middle of the keyboard. It will be the first white key in a set of three with two black keys in between. Place your right thumb (1) on Middle C and then let your remaining fingers fall on the white keys to the right of Middle C. Your right hand will line up with the keys like this:
Thumb (1) = Middle C
Index Finger (2) = D
Middle Finger (3) = E
Ring Finger (4) = F
Little Finger (5) = G
Press Middle C with your thumb to play the note. Following by going down the line playing D, then E, then F, and finally G. You did it! You’ve just played the first five notes of the C-Major scale.
Now it’s time to play the full C-Major scale. Start with the first three notes you played when you located Middle C: C, D, and E. Instead of playing F with your ring finger (4), tuck your thumb under your three fingers and slide your hand down to play F with your thumb. Your other four fingers are now in place to play the remainder of the scale: G, A, B, and then C, but this C is an octave higher. Practice until you have the movement down.
Now let’s add the left hand! The left hand is a mirror of the right. The left hand starts with the pinky on C and steps up to the thumb which is on G. Then the middle finger crosses over the thumb and plays the A. The pointer finger and thumb finish up the scale.
Thumb (1) = G
Index Finger (2) = F
Middle Finger (3) = E
Ring Finger (4) = D
Little Finger (5) = C
Overall, here are the C-Major Scale fingerings for each hand:
1-2- 3-1- 2-3-4-5
5-4- 3- 2-1- 3-2-1
[insert image: labeled notes on keyboard graphic – preferably with hands/numbers]
Practice Playing the C-Major Scale
Whether you are taking keyboarding lessons online or in-person, you will need to practice the C-Major scale until it comes automatically. Start practicing with your metronome at a slower tempo and practice the scale until it is consistently smooth at that tempo. You want to master each tempo by playing the scale without any errors or by looking down at the keyboard. Once you’ve mastered your current tempo, speed up the metronome a bit and practice at this newer, faster tempo. Continue to up the tempo as you sail through the C-Major scale with ease.
It’s natural to want to start playing songs as soon as you begin learning to play the keyboard; however, exercises like this are essential for building muscle memory in your fingers and training your ear. You’ll also be able to play notes without looking down at the keyboard. If you master these fundamentals, you’ll be able to play much more complex pieces in the future.
When you’re taking keyboarding lessons online, it’s hard to find an instructor who can help take you to the next level. But it doesn’t have to be. Yousicplay.com has two virtuosos who can help you develop your technique and inspire you. Consider Cory Henry’s Course specifically designed for Organ & Synth Keyboards. He’ll help you with developing your technique and finger control as well as “playing from the soul.” If jazz piano and improvisation are more what you’re looking for, choose award-winning Colombian jazz pianist Jesus Molina for your new instructor. His 27-lesson course is packed with lessons on different kinds of piano, such as blues and slide while helping you learn how to solo and improvise.
Alain Merville is founder and CEO of YousicPlay.com — an online platform offering music students around the world access to the greatest musicians and comprehensive lessons catering to all levels of talent and experience. A professor of music at the renowned Berklee College of Music in Boston, Alain brings a wide range of experience in the music field to his work — as an artist, manager and cultivator of young talent. YousicPlay offers a showcase of a wide range of musical genres and artists from many nations, including the U.S.
Keep up with the latest
Terms & Conditions