## Flat Key Scale Fingering and Sharp Key Major Scales on the Keyboard

The major scales for flat key signatures have some common patterns.

The patterns which start on black keys make a lot of sense when you understand them, however, the starting finger changes slightly and it has a tendency to confuse you as you go.

This section provides some guidance on thinking about the bigger picture when it comes to learning the flat and sharp key scales.

When you start exploring the patterns for major flat key scale fingering, you discover that the fingers use only one pattern which you need to consider for the right hand (RH) and two patterns for the left hand (LH).

There are two commonly used scales that the pattern swaps in the LH to make it easier to play.

### Sharp & Flat Key Major Scale Fingering

To get the big picture of the black keys you need to start with by considering the pairing of keys.

#### Two black keys

For the grouping of two black keys the finger combinations that are most likely to occur is with the 2 and 3 fingers.

In the RH 2 – 3  or in the LH 3 – 2 finger combination.

Take a look at the Db/C# scale fingering. This sharp/ flat key scale fingering shows several patterns. Starting with this first use of the 2 -3 combination on the two black keys.

Db Major Scale RH Fingering

Db Major Scale LH Fingering

#### Three black keys

For the grouping of three black keys the finger combinations that are most likely to occur is with the 2 – 3 – 4 fingers.

In the RH 2 – 3 – 4 or in the LH 4 – 3 – 2 finger combination.

Again refer to the Db/C# major scale fingering. The RH has a 2 – 3 – 4 and the LH has a 4 – 3 – 2 pattern on the 3 black key set. Take a look at Db Major scale RH and LH fingerings and compare them.

#### What happens when you don’t use all the black keys in your scale?

The fingering pattern still plays a significant role when using only a few of the black keys.

Even when you play another key with less black keys the the fingers used with black keys remain the same.

The other fingers just play white keys.

Take a look at the keyboard fingering for Ab for the right hand.

Ab Major Scale RH Fingering

Here you play the G note but the remaining fingering plays the same black keys.

This is typically true for the black key scales except for two in the left hand.

#### Left Hand Pattern Differs for Eb and Bb

For these keys the change is you don’t always play all the black keys in the typical pattern. Consider this example for the key of Eb.

Eb Major Scale LH Fingering

The pattern uses the 3 finger on Eb and the 4 finger on Ab. This is a shift from the regular pattern of one whole note.

However, do you notice that the 3 -2 – 1 and 4 – 3 – 2 – 1 fingering makes it easier to play the notes of the scale. This is because of the  alignment and grouping of the black keys.

This is true also for Bb where the the 3 finger plays Bb and the 4 finger plays Eb as shown here.

Bb Major Scale LH Fingering

Moving on to the flat key scale fingering may seem complicated at first. In reality they are actually easy as the basic patterns are not hard to learn.

#### The Starting Finger Changes

Now there is one last thing to consider with flat key scale fingerings.

The patterns shown above are used to play more than one octave. However, you may find that many teachers will have you start on different fingers than shown.

Starting on a 4 finger feels odd and is a stretch for your hand. Starting on a 2 or 3 finger would make it easier.

There is also a controversy among teachers about the starting on notes with these different fingers. Alas, the arguments can be good in both cases as to the best way to learn.

I believe that if it confuses you go with what works for you. Then gain understanding and try the different starting key to see how it works for you.

That is the nuts and bolts of flat key scale fingering. To learn more consider the learning resources below for learning scales on the piano or keyboard.

Learn more about the Workbook here: Scale Fingering Workbook