Playing the A major scale on the piano is a learning process well worth it! The A scale is commonly used in many songs—both piano songs & popular songs. Are you ready to learn it? I’ll show you how to play the A piano scale with diagrams, fingerings and more in this post.
What is the A Scale on Piano?
An A scale is a major scale that starts and ends on the note “A.” It consists of 5 white notes and 3 black notes (sharps). This scale is still pretty easy to learn. Although it has 3 sharps, it uses the same fingering as most white key scales.
What notes are in the a scale?
The notes in an A scale are as follows: A, B, C#, D, E, F#, and finally G#. I’ll show you diagrams and sheet music with these notes soon.
BEFORE You Begin
Stop! Before you learn the A scale, it is important that you already know 3 other scales. These other scales are easier to learn, so think of them as the “prerequisite.”
If A is the first scale you are learning, you will be better off if you stop reading this post and instead learn the C scale, the G scale, and the D scale.
If you already know those ones, then you’re all good to keep reading!
A Scale Piano Notes & Fingerings
With those things in mind, we can start learning the A major scale. Below, you’ll find a diagram showing the A scale notes on the piano. Underneath are the fingers that you should be playing on each note.
How to Play the A Scale on the Piano
To play the A scale, press down each note shown in the diagram above, starting with the A on the far left and working your way to the A on the far right. Each note should be played as its own distinct note, yet still connected (don’t blur them together, but also don’t play them too short).
As you play, follow the finger numbers on the diagram. For the right hand, you’ll start with your thumb on A, then play your 2 on B, and 3 on C#—our first black note. You may notice that, so far, this feels like the D scale!
Next, you’ll see a little X. The x’s stand for finger crosses.
Anytime you see a finger cross X, there are two options of what it could mean. If the X has a 3 before it and a 1 after it, this means you will be tucking your thumb underneath your 3rd finger and then repositioning your hand from there.
On the other hand, if the X has a 1 before it and a 3 after it, this means you will be crossing your 3rd finger over your thumb and repositioning your hand from there.
Here’s the good news: the fingering for the A scale is exactly the same as the C, G, and D scale!
In fact, 5 of the white key scales have the same fingering. So the main thing to pay attention to is the added black keys. In this scale, the black keys fall on the 3rd, 6th, and 7th note. The 6th note’s sharp is what will feel especially different from D.
And don’t forget to come down too! You can follow the fingerings and notes on the diagram from right to left to know how to go down the A scale.
A Major Scale On The Staff
If you prefer reading music, here is what the A scale looks like in both treble and bass clef. You’ll want to practice each hand separately until you have each one down super well. Then, you can try playing them at the same time!
Some Scale Tips
If you are trying out the A scale above and its not quite working for you, here are some tips that might help:
Keep a steady, slow pace. Sometimes, when people practice scales, they rush through one part they already know (like the first 3 notes) and then slow down on the more tricky part. However, its better if you anticipate the second half being tricky, and therefore slow down throughout the entire scale.
Notice the pattern. For the A scale, we have a group of 3 notes with one sharp at the beginning. Then, after the finger cross we have a group of 5 notes with sharps on the 6th and 7th. Thinking about the way the sharps are distributed into groups can be helpful for memorization.
Practice in order of sharps. When you add the A scale to the other scales you already know, it can be helpful to practice them in order of sharps. So start with C with zero sharps, then move to G, D, and finally A. When you do this, you can add one more sharp at a time. This can also help with looking at the patterns the sharps form in the scales.
All major scales follow a formula as far as intervals go. Here is this formula: W-W-H-W-W-W-H. The W’s stand for “whole step” and the H’s stand for “half step.
So written out the long way, the formula is: whole step, whole step, half step, whole step, whole step, half step.
You can use this formula any time to figure out a major scale!
When you use this formula, it also creates a relationship between the tonic (the very first note) and all the other notes. An interval can be formed between the tonic and each note of the scale. Here’s what that looks like for A major:
- Tonic: A
- Major 2nd: B
- Major 3rd: C#
- Perfect 4th: D
- Perfect 5th: E
- Major 6th: F#
- Major 7th: G#
- Perfect 8th: A
Another way to look at a scale is by “degrees.” Here are the scale degrees for the key of A:
- Tonic: A
- Supertonic: B
- Mediant: C#
- Subdominant: D
- Dominant: E
- Submediant: F#
- Leading tone: G#
- Octave: A
Triad Chords In The Key Of A
Did you know a chord can also be built off of EVERY note in the A scale? That’s right! It is a great exercise to practice finding these chords in each key. For A we are starting to get more sharps, so it is important to pay attention.
Chord I: A major (notes are A – C# – E)
Chord ii: B minor (notes are B – D – F#)
Chord iii: C# minor (notes are C# – E – G#)
Chord IV: D major (notes are D – F# – A)
Chord V: E major (notes are E – G# – B)
Chord vi: F# minor (notes are F# – A – C#)
Chord vii: G# diminished (notes are G# – B – D)
Is A Major the Same as F# Minor?
F# minor is not the exact same key as A major, but it is called the “relative minor.” All major keys have relative minors! This basically just means they have the same number of sharps in the key signature.
What notes are in the key of A?
The notes in the key of A are the same notes that are in the scale—A, B, C#, D, E, F#, and G#. Any of thes notes can be played on the piano to stay within the key of A.
Scales To Learn Next:
Once you’re done learning the A scale, you can move on to more difficult scales with flats and sharps! Here’s a master list you can work through one by one. These are not in chronological order, but rather in sections of white keys and black keys, from easy to more difficult.
More Music Theory:
You don’t even have to stop there! Here are some other music theory topics you might be interested in:
- How Many Beats Are in a Whole Note
- Learn the Order of Flats & Sharps
- F# Major Chord
- G# Major Chord
- D# Major Chord
The A scale is bright, beautiful, and easy to learn! This 3 sharped scale is a great one to have in your toolbox. Definitely start practicing it today! Start by figuring out the notes and fingering. When you’re ready, try playing both hands at the same time. You’ll get it, one step at a time!