Introduction: How to Play the D Major Scale on the Piano for Beginners
As a beginning piano student, you are going to learn to play a lot of songs that are in the Key of D Major.
This is one of the most common keys that we start playing piano pieces in and will find it in many advanced pieces and exercises as well.
If you are at the point in your playing that you're ready to learn the D Major Scale, then you most likely already know how to play the C Major Scale.
Remember that a scale will start and end on the note that is the name of the scale.
- If you are playing a C Major scale then you would start and end on C. In this case, since we are learning/playing the D Major scale, we will start and end on D.
A scale teaches all of the notes that we will need to know to play them correctly in whatever we're learning. Before we learn any new scale we need to know what the key signature is. Let's find out what the exact key signature is for D Major before we look at the scale in our piano music.
Step 1: The Key Signature for D Major
As you can see, we have two sharps in the Key of D Major. Can you tell what they are?
Think back to the scale you probably learned after learning the C Major scale & key signature (no sharps and no flats).
- If we proceed through our scales in order of how many sharps or flats they have, we would learn the G Major scale after C Major. G Major has one sharp in it, and that sharp is F#.
Continuing forward according to the number of sharps we have in the key signature, we now arrive at D Major; which has F# & C#. (See how we added to the original F# from G Major?)
- If you have trouble figuring out which note is indicated by the sharp sign, remember to look in the center of the #-symbol and that will be the note; this applies whether it is on a space or a line.
- The Key Signature will always be located just after the clef sign in each hand.
Now let's see what they D Major scale looks like on the music staff in both the treble clef and later we'll see it in bass clef as well.
Step 2: What the D Major Scale Looks Like in Music
Image 1 shows what the D Major scale looks like with the sharps notated in the key signature.
Image 2 shows what the D Major scale looks like with the sharps notated before each note instead of in the key signature.
Most times we will see the sharps notated in the key signature as in the first image.
- Sometimes composers add in what we call accidentals; where a sharp or flat is added into a specific measure, even though it is not included in the original key signature.
Notice that in both examples that the scale starts and ends on D.
Now let's add the proper fingerings to the D Major Scale so we can play it on the piano.
Step 3: How to Play the D Major Scale on the Piano
All of your fingerings are notated in both the right (treble clef) and the left (bass clef) hands.
The fingerings are consecutive except for 1 place in each hand going up the scale and it's the same fingering coming back down the scale.
Going up the scale:
- Right Hand: You will cross your thumb/1st finger under your 3rd finger going from notes F# to G.
- Left Hand: You will cross your 3rd finger over your thumb/1st finger going from notes A to B.
Coming down the scale:
- Right Hand: You will cross your 3rd finger over your thumb/1st finger going from notes G to F#.
- Left Hand: You will cross your thumb/1st finger under your 3rd finger going from notes B to A.
The next image shows where we play the D Major Scale on the piano keyboard and that's just what we're going to do next. Ready to practice with me?
Step 4: Come Practice With Me!
The best part about this step in each of the lessons is that you can watch me play what we're learning about on the piano and you get to play it with me.
Learning the D Major Scale is not that hard and if you take the time to practice it with me and then on your own, you're sure to master it in no time at all!
Remember to practice slowly, practice one hand/clef at a time, and don't start trying to speed up too fast when you start playing with both hands together.
I'll go over each note of the D Major scale with you and I'll demonstrate the best tempo for you to start with when you put both hands together.
Remember that D Major has F# and C# in the key signature and you will always start and end the scale with each hand on the note D as well. Learn the finger pattern in one octave to start with and then you just repeat that same pattern for each additional octave that you'd like to add in.