How to Play the C# Major Scale on the Piano

As far as Key Signatures go in music - the most direct one is the key of C. C doesn't mess around and is the most "all or nothing" kind of key you'll meet.

C Major happens to be the first scale and key that we learn in piano playing. (not so for other instruments!) If you remember, the key of C has no sharps or flats in it. This is the "nothing" part of the ~all or nothing~ character of C.

Today, however, we're going to meet the "all" side to the key of C, by learning the C# major scale.

Have you seen how many sharps are in the key of C#? When you look at the key signature of C#, you might just think that it's too hard, but it's not! Once you recognize the "all or nothing" make-up of C, you'll conquer this scale and key with no trouble at all.

Can you guess how many sharps are in C# major? Let's find out in the next step.

Step 1: Key Signature of C# Major

Take a look at this and count how many sharps you find for each clef. There are 7, right?

Instead of thinking, "oh my, there are too many sharps", think instead..." oh! Everything is sharp!" See how much easier that is?

C major has no sharps...C# has all sharps. Let's go through them in order:

F, C, G, D, A, E, & B. <---yes, even B! In fact, knowing this scale is a great way to learn the order of your sharps as this is important to help you know all of your keys signatures.

Each clef has the same key signature so you'll play all of the sharps with both hands.

Now that we know how many and what the sharps are in the key of C# Major, let's look at the specific fingerings you will use to play this on the piano. They are different for each hand/clef.

Step 2: Fingerings for the C# Major Scale on the Piano

First read through the fingerings in each hand before you try to play this scale. Notice what finger you start on, where you cross over, what finger you end on, and what fingers you use coming back down the scale.

  • Treble clef or our right hand in the C# scale starts on the 2nd finger, then play your 3rd finger, and then you have to cross over to play your 1st finger on the E#.
  • Watch out for the E#...it is the same note as F natural, but a lot of times we end up hitting E natural instead of E#.
  • Keep going consecutively (as in the image) and then you're going to do the exact same thing that you did with the E#...only this time it is with B#. B# is the same note as C natural.
  • This scale ends with the 2nd finger on the top C# and then you return back down the scale with the same fingerings.
  • Bass Clef or our left hand in the C# scale start with the 3rd finger, then play your 2nd & 1st fingers before crossing over with your 4th finger on the F#. This scale ends with the 3rd finger so be careful not to put your 4th finger on any of the C#'s above the very first one. Just like you had to do with your right hand, be careful about the extra reach between D# and E#, and again with A# and B#.

Now that you have the fingerings for the C# scale in each clef, let's go to our piano and practice through this scale together.

Step 3: Come Practice With Me!

The best way to practice this scale is one hand at a time. (That's true with most everything we learn on the piano, isn't it?)

Watch me play the C# scale in each hand on this video because I'll show you where each of the notes is on your keyboard and play it slowly so you'll be able to play it with me.

I also go over the notes where you have a farther reach than usual because of the sharps - and we'll cover this in each hand since the fingerings are different.

Once you've gone through this several times with me in the video you should be able to play it on your own and you'll be able to work on speed and clarity of notes with both hands together each day until you have mastered the C# Major scale! Enjoy!

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