Scale playing on the piano trains your fingers to dance across the keys. I did this book a few years ago to give beginners the ability to jump in immediately and start playing scales.
If a student is only able to play 2-3 “easy to read” scales and gets confused by flats and sharps in more advanced keys, he or she is not getting the full benefit of this aspect of practice.
Because every note on the piano has its own major and minor scale, it is only when the student is able to play scales on every key that they get the best results.
I designed these charts to teach you how to play all of the major scales and all of the harmonic minor scales instantly without reading music.
For those who are not familiar with what the numbers refer to, one is your thumb, two is your index finger, three your middle finger, four your ring finger and five your pinky finger.
My Cheat Sheets give you the traditional fingering which you would find in most any method book or Hanon. It’s a great way to simplify your piano practice!
This is the 2nd edition with bonus content about scales, chords and music theory.
My book can be bought on Amazon in printed form or on Sellfy in digital (.pdf) form so you can print it yourself. Many people enjoy the savings and immediate delivery with the .pdf version and will print a page or two at a time until they get the fingerings memorized.
When I first started studying music on a more serious basis a few years ago, I quickly discovered how needlessly confusing and convoluted most music theory explanations can be- especially to the “newbie”.
Music theory is a very complex subject and I started by reading several beginner books and researched various subjects on the internet and YouTube, but it was not until I started studying Harmony, reading books first by Walter Piston and then by Arnold Schoenberg, that things started making sense to me.
This is not to say that their books are simple- just the opposite- they are quite complex and detailed- and very dry for the most part, but I carried forward, reading 1000’s of pages a few pages a day over the course of about two years. I would add that both of these writers (who were also great composers in their time) have a very different approach from each other to the analysis of music- more about that in future articles.
Given that most aspiring musicians will never take the time to read such volumes, one of my goals is to simplify and abbreviate their teachings and also to add some ideas of my own to make these musical concepts accessible to all.
Above is a video I made in 2011. It has been viewed thousands of times on YouTube and has brought me over a 1000 subscribers to my channel. In a nutshell, I show how all of your major and minor scales are built from 3 primary chords (basic triads)- the ones on the 1st, 4th and 5th degrees of the root and how you can easily convert the scales one to the other by flattening or sharpening the thirds of each of these chords. I also show how these scales are used as the basis of our key signatures and how you calculate any scale simply by using a Circle of 5ths.
If you would like to download free Chord Charts that I made to accompany this video, you can click here.
I hope you find the video helpful and I intend to do many more- there are at present about 1/2 dozen more on my YouTube channel, I just gotta find the time! This blog is easier to post to than making videos, so you will find more new content here than in video form.
If you have any questions or comments feel free to post them here and on YouTube.
Robert Schumann, the great 19th century composer famously said the the “cultivation of the ear is of the greatest importance” and that “study is unending”. This from his book, “Rules and Maxims for Young Musicians.” I find that both statements are unequivocably true.
“Earmaster 5” is a computer program that can be used on most any platform (it is made for Windows and Mac, but works great under Wine on Linux), you can use it with or without a digital piano or keyboard and it has numerous lesson and exercise categories from interval recognition to chord progressions to melodic dictation, etc.
For example, It will play series of notes or chords and you have multiple choice answer buttons on the screen or you can use the piano keyboard to input your answer.
Ear training, or “Ear Straining” as many people call it, -at least at first- can be very frustrating.
However, once you’ve figured out a schedule when you can run Earmaster -on a regular basis (this is very important), it’s worth it. For the moment I use it about 30 minutes a day, 5 times a week.
I can’t give you a miracle story just yet with my own experience, but… keep an eye on this page, it is helping a LOT with my piano study.
Why? Because in the world of music, it’s the ear that guides you. After all, the goal is to make music and you can’t navigate that world unless you know what you’re hearing!
Much less can you compose without a well defined way of listening to your own music- being able to identify notes, melodies, chords, progressions, etc.
For those that simply want to play the music of others, you don’t want to be robotic, mechanically following the notes on a page, so ear training can lead to the ability of “hearing the music before it’s played,” imagining the sounds by sight reading a page of sheet music.
From what I’ve been told, at college level, one of the required skills to be able to get a degree in music is that he or she be able to hear a series of notes and dictate them on paper. This being only one of many other types of aural recognition that are expected of music students.
So why is ear training and note and chord recognition often so difficult for many of us?
My guess is that it’s because listening to music is usually a passive experience. After all, unless you are sitting at a live orchestra performance, giving it your full attention, the typical music listening experience is that of just hearing it and doing other things at the same time.
For example, you might listen to music at work, during your workout, dancing at the club, driving in your car or a myriad of other things. Even at the symphony, your mind will typically wander and you are not giving the music full attention, even though you may be completely moved and emotionally immersed in the experience.
Having said that, the typical non-musician has no reason to do anything more than that. He or she would just enjoy the music. He or she has no reason to want to recognize what the actual notes are or to have the ability to describe the chord progressions, etc.
But the musician and composer does need to be able to do these things. And the performer that has a well trained ear can play much better.
So, my advice?
Just go into it with the right attitude, that it’s not something that you can do overnight, that the experience of just doing it is already in and of itself helpful to your musicianship, that you recognize that you didn’t learn the English (or whatever other) language(s) you speak in a few weeks time, nor will you learn the language of music in short order either.
I’ve been working on it off and on for a couple of years, very sporadically, but now have started a regimen of about 30-45 minutes after breakfast 4-5 times a week. Using the built in sounds on the computer instead of playing on a keyboard but have done some lessons with both.
Earmaster is paid software, but they have a free trial version. There is also a freeware program, GNU Solfege that has many of the same features but the user interface is not as polished or fun. However, I love the Rhythm recognition training on Solfege and I practice it all the time as well.
Btw, I’m currently stuck on Level 2 of chord progressions, the software asks that you get 90% right on your 20 question quiz and so far I’m averaging about 70% percent, though I have hit 85%.