Piano scales are renowned for being a bit of a chore. And yet all those learning to play the piano, as well as experienced musicians, need to practice them regularly in order to keep their fingers supple and mobile around the keyboard. Piano scales in the major keys usually start at middle C. C Major is the easiest scale to play and each one thereafter gets a little bit more complicated.
All of them are made much easier, however, by learning the best finger pattern for each. A previous article has described how to play scales C, G, D, A, E and B. This article covers scales F, B flat, E flat, A flat, D flat and G flat. There follows the finger patterns for each in turn:
F Major (containing B flat):
Right hand – with the thumb on F, the fingering is 123412343214321, (your 4th. finger will play B flat and then the top F, before returning with identical fingering).
Left hand – with your little finger on F one octave below, the fingering is 543213212312345.
All the remaining scales start on a flatted note, i.e. a black note below a white note.
B flat Major (B & E flat):
Right hand – starting with the 4th. finger on B flat, the fingering is 412312343213214 (don’t forget to hit E flat, i.e. the black note below E, with your 3rd. finger).
Left hand – starting on your 3rd. finger, the pattern is 321432131234123 (this time it’s the 4th. finger that hits the E flat).
E flat Major (E, A & B flat):
Right hand – starting on the 3rd. the pattern is 312341232143213 (don’t forget the additional flatted note when you get to A).
Left hand – the pattern is 321432131234123.
A flat Major (A, B, D & E flat):
Right hand – 341231232132143.
Left hand – 321432131234123.
D flat Major (D, E, G, A & B flat):
Right hand – 231234121432132.
Left hand – 321432131234123.
G flat Major (G, A, B, C, D & E flat):
You may have noticed this scale contains a flatted note that doesn’t appear to exist – C flat. When you look at the keyboard there is no black note immediately below C, only a white note which is normally referred to as B. This is a quirk of the keyboard. The effect we want to create is to play a note one semitone below C. Because there is no black note available, C flat becomes B.
Yes, I know this is difficult to take in, but it is perfectly logical. Now, allowing for this quirk, the finger pattern for G flat Major is as follows:
Right hand – 234123121321432.
Left hand – 432132141231234.
That completes the finger patterns for the Major scales. These fingerings will take a bit of getting used to, but they will become a natural part of your playing after a short while. You will even start to develop your favorites. For example, I always think of D flat Major and G flat Major as possessing a very pleasing symmetry and playing them is always very satisfying. But you will have to practice them to understand exactly what I mean.