Introduction: How to Play a C Major Scale on the Piano for Beginners

This lesson is specifically for beginners or those that would like to review how to play a C Major Scale.

The C Major Scale is the first scale that we all learn on the piano.

There are no sharps or flats in the C scale - every note is natural.

As with all scales in Major and Minor Keys, there are 8 total notes in the C Major Scale.

We start with middle C on the keyboard and play up to the next C.

Let's see what that looks like on the music staff.

Step 1: The C Scale on the Music Staff

What we have in this image is the C Major Scale in both the treble (right hand) and bass (left hand) clefs.

Notice in this example that there are 4 notes in each measure and that they are all quarter notes. We are counting 4 quarter note beats in each measure, and each quarter note gets one beat/count.

One thing you will notice as you start to play the C Major Scale on your piano is that you will be playing all white keys because the notes are all natural. Notice in the Key Signature area right next to the Time Signature that there are no sharps or flats notated. This is because there are none, and every note is natural. The C Major Scale is the only Major scale where you won't have any sharps or flats in the Key Signature.

Now, let's see what those numbers are over each note and how they will help us play this scale easily.

Step 2: What Those Numbers Mean Under Each Note

Look in the first measure of this C Major Scale.

See the gold stars by the numbers under each note? In the second measure, the numbers are still under the notes, but without the stars, so you can get used to seeing them on your own.

Those numbers represent the fingers that you will use to play each note, in both hands.

Having the fingerings marked under each note makes it incredibly easy to learn the C Major Scale and in fact, all of your scales!

Why is it so important to use the correct fingerings when playing scales? Let's find out!

Step 3: Fingerings for the C Major Scale and Why They Matter

Knowing what fingers to use on which notes and the order of those fingerings will allow you to move up and down the keyboard much faster than if you were just using a random fingering. The structure allows you to learn a pattern that you can repeat with many other scales.

So if you want to play faster on the piano, make sure that you learn your proper finger patterns for all of your scales and practice them daily.

For the C Major Scale - let's look at your right-hand fingering.

Start with your thumb on Middle C, and then play the next 3 notes, D & E with your 2nd and 3rd fingers.

Then, cross your thumb under your 3rd finger and place it on F, the next note in the scale.

Continue with your 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th fingers consecutively until you play the 8th note of the scale which is C again.

Use that same fingering when you come back down the scale.

Now, for your left hand:

Start with your 5th finger on the bottom C and play the next 4 notes, D, E, F, & G with your 4th, 3rd, 2nd, & 1st fingers.

Next, cross over your 3rd finger to play the A, then play B with your 2nd finger and finally the top C with your thumb, or 1st finger. Again, use the same fingering coming back down the scale.

Right Hand Pattern:

1-2-3-1-2-3-4-5: 5-4-3-2-1-3-2-1

Left Hand Pattern:

5-4-3-2-1-3-2-1: 1-2-3-1-2-3-4-5

The best way to reinforce all of this is to practice it with me and watch how I do it on the keyboard. Are you ready?

Step 4: Come Practice With Me

There is a lot to learn when it comes to playing the C Major Scale.

The most important thing to get is the fingering and practicing that slowly so you give yourself enough time to get it securely.

Knowing the finger pattern in your head is very different from being able to play it well on the piano.

That's why I included this video tutorial to help you see what I'm talking about here on the actual keyboard and how I play the specific finger pattern for this scale.

After going through this written lesson make sure to watch this video while at your keyboard so you can practice with me. This will really help you put all of this knowledge to practical use and you'll learn your C scale much faster.

Come back to it as much as you need to, and good luck with learning and playing the C Major Scale!