Learn Piano Online – Lesson 11

Learn piano online in our series of lessons.

In this lesson we shall learn about all twelve major keys. First of all let’s talk about how one forms a major scale.

We have already looked at the C, F and G major scales. So how does one form any major scale?

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The formula for a major scale is whole-whole-half-whole-whole-whole-half. What does this mean? It means that on your piano keyboard, you move from a whole step, to a whole step, to a half step, to a whole step, to a whole step, to a whole step, and finally to a half step. A whole step is 2 half steps.

Let’s take the C major scale for example. To form a C major scale you move from C to D, a whole step. Then from D to E, another whole step. You go from E to F, a half step. Then from F to G, a whole step. G to A is a whole step. A to B is a whole step. Lastly, you move from B to C, a half step.

You can build any major scale using the formula, whole-whole-half-whole-whole-whole-half. You can start on any note and simply follow this formula.

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Learn piano online – practice forming major scales

Using the formula above, practice forming major scales. Start on D and build yourself a major scale. Now start on E. When you’re done, start on F. Start on G and build a major scale. Then start on A. Lastly start on the remaining white note, B. The note you start on when building a major scale is known as the root. The root notes you have played so far are C, D, E, F, G, A and B.

Now let’s form major scales using the black notes on your piano. Form major scales starting on the notes, C sharp (D flat), D sharp (E flat), F sharp (G flat) and A sharp (B flat).

Learn piano online – keys and key signatures

When a song is written using the scale of C, it is said to be in the key of C. When written using the scale of D, it is said to be in the key of D. And so on,

As you learn to play the various scales you will notice that some keys make use of sharps and flats (black keys). For instance the key of B has 5 sharps. How would a composer indicate that a song is in the key of B? (S)he would use what is known as a key signature. That key signature would show 5 sharps, indicating that there are five sharps in the scale. What this means is that each time the piano player comes across certain notes he would have to play them a semi-tone higher. For instance, instead of playing C, he would play C sharp. Instead of playing D, he would play D sharp. The key of a song is very important to the player. This is one of the first things he must know before starting the song.

Likewise, if the key signature has flats, every time the player comes across certain notes he or she would have to play them a semi-tone lower.

Key Signatureskey signatures

Each key has a certain number of sharps or flats. As you learn piano online, memorize the following.

  • In the Key of C, there are 0 sharps and 0 flats.
  • In the Key of G, there is 1 sharp.
  • In the Key of F, there is 1 flat.
  • In the Key of D, there are 2 sharps.
  • In the Key of B flat, there are 2 flats.
  • In the Key of A, there are 3 sharps.
  • In the Key of E flat, there are 3 flats.
  • In the Key of E, there are 4 sharps.
  • In the Key of A flat, there are 4 flats.
  • In the Key of B, there are 5 sharps.
  • In the Key of D flat, there are 5 flats.

These are the keys most often used in music.

Other keys include the key of F sharp which has 6 sharps, C sharp which has 7 sharps, and G flat which has 6 flats. But these keys are rarely used outside the world of classical music.

Here’s another way of looking at key signatures.

Scales With Sharp Key Signatures

C maj – 0 sharps
G maj – 1 sharp – F♯
D maj – 2 sharps – F♯, C♯
A maj – 3 sharps – F♯, C♯, G♯
E maj – 4 sharps – F♯, C♯, G♯, D♯
B maj – 5 sharps – F♯, C♯, G♯, D♯, A♯
F♯ maj – 6 sharps – F♯, C♯, G♯, D♯, A♯, E♯
C♯ maj – 7 sharps – F♯, C♯, G♯, D♯, A♯, E♯, B♯

Scales With Flat Key Signatures

C maj – 0 flats
F maj – 1 flat – B♭
B♭ maj – 2 flats – B♭, E♭
E♭ maj – 3 flats – B♭, E♭, A♭
A♭ maj – 4 flats – B♭, E♭, A♭, D♭
D♭ maj – 5 flats – B♭, E♭, A♭, D♭, G♭
G♭ maj – 6 flats – B♭, E♭, A♭, D♭, G♭, C♭
C♭ maj – 7 flats – B♭, E♭, A♭, D♭, G♭, C♭, F♭

If you want to learn piano online, you’re in the right place. However, to take your playing to another level I recommend the Pianoforall piano lessons. Click here to check out Piano for all piano lessons.


  1. Lesson One.
  2. Lesson Two.
  3. Lesson Three.
  4. Lesson Four
  5. Lesson Five
  6. Lesson Six
  7. Lesson Seven
  8. Lesson Eight
  9. Lesson Nine
  10. Lesson Ten
  11. Lesson Eleven
  12. Lesson Twelve

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