Intermediate Keyboard/Piano Lessons Part 3

Intermediate Keyboard/Piano Lessons Part 3

Getting to know the Sharp Key Signatures

C Major

All of the exercises and piano pieces you have played so far have one thing in common: They are all in the key of C major or A minor. And that is, because the key of C major and its relative minor, A minor, have no sharps or flats-you only play the white keys. The vast majority of sharps and flats are located on the black keys on the keyboard.

The key of A minor is C major's relative minor because it uses the same key signature, which has no sharps or flats. Notes that have no sharps or flats are also called naturals; they are natural-not sharp or flat. So all the notes in the C-major scale and the A-minor scale are natural. Key signatures tell you what the notes are in a specific scale and what the corresponding keys are on the keyboard. Having played the exercises before, you are already familiar with the key of C major. The consecutive sequence of eight notes from middle C up an octave to the C on the third space of the treble staff is called a scale. Let's take a look at the C-major scale.

example 7a

As you can see in example 7a, the notes in the C-major scale are C, D, E, F, G, A, B and C. Scales go u[, scales go down, and scales in a specific key are the same in all octaves. The notes in scales are numbered from one to eight.

  1. C is the root; also called the tonic

  2. D is the supertonic

  3. E is the mediant

  4. F is the subdominant

  5. G is the dominant

  6. A is the submediant

  7. B is the leading tone

  8. C is the octave

All of these scale degrees have an intervallic relationship with the root C. An interval is the distance between any two pitches or notes. For instance, the intervallic distance between C and D is a second, between C and E is a third, between C and F is a fourth, and so on.

Practice the C-major scale in example 7a with your right hand. Notice that the thumb goes under the middle finger on the third beat in measure 1 and the middle finger goes over the thumb on the fourth beat in measure 3. Repeat this exercise several times.

In the next exercise you are going to play the C-major scale with your left hand. Notice that the middle finger goes over the thumb on the first beat in measure 2 and that the thumb goes under the middle finger on the second beat in measure 3. Repeat example 8a several times.

example 8a