Using The Lessons
People that come to these pages through search engines enter on different pages. I
would recommend that to get the full benefit of these music lessons, especially if you are
a beginner, you visit every page at least once. This is a totally new approach to learning
music. The focus is on "How Music Works". That page that you miss could be the one
that contains the key information, that you need. These pages are full of music tips and
music info that you probably won't find anywhere else.
We start with the all natural notes for key of C Major. If we build a major scale on it's
fifth note g, we get G major with one sharp. If we go down to f five notes below c and
build a major scale on it, we get F major with one flat. The last four notes of F major,
c,d,e,f, are the first four notes of c major. The first four notes of G major, g,a,b,c are
the last four note of C major. So the keys most closely related to C are F and G. For G
the neighbor keys would be C a fifth below it and D a fifth above it. When we get into
songs with more complex harmony we will see how we use chords from neighbor keys.
Many songs take excursion into other major keys. Most often it's into the neighbor
keys. We saw that one use for different keys was to match our vocal range. Another
reason that we need other keys is so we can have more complex songs
How Many Keys
How many major keys are there? There are 15 different names but really only 12
different keys. That is because some keys are enharmonic. They have the same notes.
F sharp major with 6 sharps and G flat major with 6 flats have exactly the same notes,
even though in one case they are called by their sharp names and in the other case
they are called by there flat names. C sharp major and D flat major , with seven sharps
and seven flats, are the two other enharmonic keys. How can you have more than five
sharps or flats, when there are only five black keys? The white key note c can be
called the sharp of b because it is a half step higher. The white key note F can be
called the sharp of e because it is a half step higher. The enharmonic keys are not
keys you are likely to ever need. All the other keys with sharps start on natural tones.
D major has two sharps, A major three, E major four, and B major five. All the flat keys,
except for F, start on flat notes. B flat major has two flats, E flat major three, A flat
major four flats, and D flat major five flats.
Fingering The Keyboard
Although different songs will call for different fingerings, a good place to start is to learn
how to run up and down the scales. All the sharp keys that start on a natural letter
have the same fingering. You just have to make sure you substitute the correct black
sharp keys for white keys for each scale. Scales that start on black keys are more
complicated. As we try to use the principle of always having our thumb land on a
natural note, different scales will have different fingerings. The songs also will have
different fingerings. We will look at some of the more common sharp and flat keys in
Do we need to learn them all? As we study each type of instrument, you will see that
each favors certain keys. When we get into the details of playing each instrument we
will discuss why. For now let's just state the facts. D, A and E are keys that you will
definitely be learning because they are the three keys that work best on guitar. The C,
G and F that we have already learned are the best keyboard/piano keys. B flat, E flat,
and A flat are the ones you might need if you play a certain type of music. A lot of
music that features reeds and brass like jazz, big band and music from the 30's and
40's is written in flat keys. The 6 and 7 sharp/flat keys and to a slightly lesser extent the
5 sharp/flat keys are the ones you will most likely never need. First we will take a look
at the common sharp keys. They are easier to play because they all have the same
fingering. Then we will take a look at the common flat keys. They are a little harder to
play because they all have different fingerings.
More On Tansposing Keys And Scales
In this third free piano lesson, we will learn how to play more major scales and our two
five finger folk songs in more major keys. We will continue to see how understanding
musics great secret will make it easy. Make sure that you have completed the first group
of five of these free lessons starting with Music Is Easy as well as the first two free piano
lessons starting with Easy Piano before you begin this one. Playing the same music in
different keys is called transposing. It's not hard when you know how music works. But
you are going to see that because of the way a key board works some keys will be
harder than others. The fingering will have to be changed to keep us from having to play
black keys with the thumb.
Musics Great Secret
We've talked about musics great secret before. We learned that, It's the spaces
between the notes that make a melody. We learned that scales and songs follow a
formula. What is the most basic way to think about a major scale. They all have the
familiar do, re, me, fa, so, la, ti, do melody. Most of us have learned to sing this familiar
the learn to sing the learn to sing or play it with these major scale solfeggio notes. The
letter names of or play it with these major scale solfeggio notes. The letter names of the
notes change. The position location of the hands on the piano or keyboard change.
Fingering often changes, depending on the key. The only thing that remains constant
across all keys is the major scale sollfeggio tones. If the note is do or re or me or any
other major scale tone, it is the same no matter what key you play the song in. Another
thing that's constant is the position of the note in the major scale. Do is always one, re is
always two, me is always three and so on. We will often be studying music in this way.
|"Down In The Valley" is in three quarter time. All the other songs that we have
looked at so far have been in four four time. So the count is 1, 2, 3 instead of
1,2 3, 4. It's starting and lowest note is so below do. This means that a good
singing range requires that the song be in f or g. This would make the starting
and lowest note middle c or d below middle c. In this arrangement the left hand
plays the chords bass chord style, while the right hand plays the melody.
Playing Down In The Valley In F
Look at the lead sheet for Down In The Valley below. The 3 over 4 tells us that the song is
in three quarter time. That means that a count or beat for a measure or bar is 1, 2, 3 and
a quarter note gets one beat. A measure or bar can have three quarter notes, a quarter
note and a half note or a dotted quarter note. A dot extends a note by half it's original
value. So a dot after a half note increases it from two to three beats and it fills a three
beat measure. In this song we are also using ties. Ties tie note together and here extend
them into the next measure. This lead sheet is in the key of f so all the b notes are flat.
Play the black key below b for b flat. Below the verse, I have put the universal solfeggio
names for the notes. You should always understand your songs in terms of these. The
song starts with your thumb on so below do. Then your fingers play do, re me. The letter
notes in F are c, f, g, a. You just need to separate your fingers a bit from your thumb to
play all the notes with five fingers as some notes are skipped. In the 7th measure the
fingering changes. Your fingers are very spread out as you play the notes in the V7
chord. For F that is C7 or c, e, g, and b flat. Then in the 10th measure the fingers are
brought back together and are back in position to play the song again. Notice how against
the V7 chord you are playing mostly so, ti re and fa. You can play the whole song with
your thumb positioned over c or so while stretching out the other fingers to reach the
other notes. Listen to the sound sample below the lead sheet as a guide to how it should
sound. Play the melody while looking at the lead sheet.
Playing Down In The Valley In G
Once you've learned to play Down In The Valley in the key of F it's easy to play it in the
key of G. You just have to move your hand up one note and the fingering is practically the
same. Of course the solfeggio note names are always the same. What changes is the
note letter names. Because this is the key of G, all the f notes have to be sharped. You
play the black key above f instead of the white f key. Of course now the b in now natural
or back to being a white key. Notice that the sharp symbol is on the top f line of the staff
but you still need to sharp the f in our song in the bottom space of the staff. All f's are
sharped. Listen to the sound sample below the lead sheet as a guide to how it should
sound. Play the melody while looking at the lead sheet.
The first key with a sharp is G with an f sharp. It is the upper neighbor key to C. Notice
also that it is five natural tones above C. Each next neighbor key will have all the sharps
of the one below it, plus one more new one. It will always be five natural tones above
the one below it. You will find that the fifth interval is a very important space in music.
The next neighbor key above G is D with the c being the additional sharp. Next we
have A with the addition of g sharp and finally E with the addition of d sharp. Why do we
need these sharps? We need to put the whole steps and half steps in the right place to
have a major scale. These sharp keys are pictured below with a keyboard picture and
music notation. They will be higher or lower but they will all have the melody of the
major scale, the same familiar do, re, fa, so, la, ti, do. Try these scales on your piano or
keyboard. Practice playing both up and down the scales. Practice playing through
more than one octave. For fingering we always try to have the thumb land on a white
key while the longer fingers play the shorter black keys. For the sharp keys, you play
the major scales, with the same fingering for as in the key of C.
The Major Scale
In free piano lesson 2, "Scales,Steps and Melody" we learned that the C major scale
gives us the model for a major scale. Remember that the natural tones e to f and b to c
are a half step apart. All the other natural tones are a whole step apart. Look at steps
between the natural tones in the C scale, "c, d, e, f, g, a, b, c". You can see that the half
steps are between the third and fourth and the seventh and eight notes of the scale. See
the major scale formula below.
whole step, whole step,half step,
whole step, whole step , whole step, half step.
But as you will soon find out this is not only the formula for C major scale. It is the formula
for every major scale. Depending on what note you start on, sharps or flats are required
to put the steps in the right place for a major scale. As we said before, Sounds in music
depend on the spaces between tones not the tones themselves. Start on any
note and keep the spaces between the notes the same as the major scale formula and
you will be playing the major scale that has the name of that note.
The first key with a flat is the key of F. It is he only flat key that starts on a natural note.
All the other flat keys start on flats. It has one flat b flat. It is the lower neighbor key to
C. It is five notes below C. Except for some different fingering in the middle of the scale,
it plays up and down the octaves very much like C. The thumb can be swung over to
play the natural note F. The lower neighbor key to F is B flat. It has one more flat than
F, e flat. It is five letter notes below F but a flat. All the other flat keys follow in the same
way. E flat adds the a flat and A flat adds the d flat. These keys are pictured below with
a keyboard picture and music notation. The flats are needed to put the half steps and
whole steps in the right place to have a major scale. The fingering is again designed to
have your thumb play only white keys. Unlike the sharp keys the fingering is different
for every flat key. A long finger always starts on the flat key that is the name of the key.
You could start with different fingers but I've chosen a finger that lets you continue into
the next octave. Practice playing the flat keys first for one octave and then beyond the
A musical keyboard is built so that playing
from c to c on the white keys, puts the whole
steps and half steps in the right place to
give you a major scale, That scale puts you
in the key of C major. For any other major
scale, you will need to substitute one or
more of the musical keyboard's black keys
for a white key. Look at the fingering.
Ascending the scale, when you get to finger
3, swing finger 1, your thumb, under the
fingers to the f key. Descending, when you
get to the thumb on f, swing finger 3 over
the thumb to the e. If you want to play up
through more octaves, when finger 4 gets to
b, you need to swing your thumb under
fingers to c. This sets you up to play the
next octave. If you want to play down
through more octaves, when your thumb
gets to c, swing your finger 4 over the thumb
to b. This sets you up to play the next
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