The ONLY white key scale with a flat in it: F major! Today we’ll be learning lots of useful information about the F scale on the piano. Learn how to play the F scale, what notes are in it, which fingers to use, and lots more!
What is the F scale in piano?
The F scale, simply put, is a major scale that both starts and ends on the note “F.” It follows the typical pattern of half steps and whole steps that builds a major scale. And with that, we end up with 1 flat, B-flat. This scale is very easy to learn in terms of how many black notes it has, but the fingering is a bit different than normal. We’ll get into all that soon!
What are the notes in F major scale?
The notes in an F scale are as follows: F, G, A, Bb, C, D, and finally E. I’ll show you diagrams and sheet music with these notes soon.
BEFORE You Begin
Stop! The F scale is a very unique scale that I don’t recommend starting with if you’re a beginner.
Before you learn the F scale, it is important that you already know 6 other scales. These other scales are easier to learn, so think of them as the “prerequisite.”
The F scale has a more difficult fingering, so learn these scales first: the C scale, the G scale, the D scale, the A scale, the E scale, and the B scale.
If F is the first scale you are learning, you will be better off if you stop reading this post and go learn those other scales instead.
If you already know those ones, then you’re all good to keep reading!
F Scale Piano Notes & Fingerings
Now that that’s out of the way, let’s get right into the details about the F scale! Below you can start looking at the notes in the scale on a piano diagram. You will also find the fingerings for both right and left hand underneath.
How to Play the F Scale on the Piano
To play the F scale on the piano, press down each note shown in the diagram above, starting with the F on the far left and working your way to the F 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).
Pay very close attention to the fingering. The left hand is the same as the other white key scales, but the right hand is not.
Because the right hand is so different, I thought I would walk you through it step by step.
You will start like normal. Play your 1 on F, your 2 on G, and your 3 on G. Now, do NOT cross your finger like normal here. Because of the placement of the flat in this scale, it would simply be too awkward, which is why the fingering is different.
So instead, play your 4 on the B-flat. Now cross your thumb under and play C, repositioning your hand after that. Finish the scale with 2 on D, 3 on E and 4 on F. I know it will feel weird finishing with a 4 on the last note. But it is correct, and you’ll get used to it the more you try it!
F Major Scale On The Staff
If you prefer reading music, here is what the F 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. Make sure to do a lot of work on the right hand fingering. Then, you can try playing them at the same time!
Some Scale Tips
If you are trying out the notes above and having some trouble, here are a few tips I’ve learned from helping students over the years:
Practice slowly, don’t rush. This may sound obvious, but the slower you go the more successful you’ll be on your first try. Rushing often causes tightness in the hands and missed notes. We don’t want either of these things! So start slow and work up the pace gradually.
Think of groups and patterns. This scale has 3 white notes, a black note, and then 4 white notes. Thinking of it this way can help in terms of memorizing.
Don’t just use your fingers. I know this may sound strange, but it’s true: you need to let your wrist and arm help you! Everytime you play a note, bounce your wrist slightly instead of keeping it tight. This will make the whole scale sound better, and it will also make the awkward new finger cross easier.
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 F major:
- Tonic: F
- Major 2nd: G
- Major 3rd: A
- Perfect 4th: Bb
- Perfect 5th: C
- Major 6th: D
- Major 7th: E
- Perfect 8th: F
Another way to look at a scale is by “degrees.” Here are the scale degrees for the key of F:
- Tonic: F
- Supertonic: G
- Mediant: A
- Subdominant: Bb
- Dominant: C
- Submediant: D
- Leading tone: E
- Octave: F
Triad Chords In The Key Of F
Did you know a chord can also be built off of EVERY note in the F scale? That’s right! It is a great exercise to practice finding these chords in each key. For F it is pretty easy since there is only one flat:
Chord I: F major (notes are F – A – C)
Chord ii: G minor (notes are G – Bb – D)
Chord iii: A minor (notes are A – C – E)
Chord IV: Bb major (notes are Bb – D – F)
Chord V: C major (notes are C – E – G)
Chord vi: D minor (notes are D – F – A)
Chord vii: E diminished (notes are E – G – Bb)
Is F major Happy?
Yes, F major is happy! Being a flat key, it is slightly more mellow than the other white key scales with sharps. But it still has a generally happy feeling to it since it is major.
Where is the key of F on a piano?
The key of F is directly to the left of any 3-black note group on the piano (a half step down). It is also above every E.
How do you memorize piano scales?
Memorize piano scales slowly but surely, and use the order of sharps and flats to differentiate! Start with C major, with zero black notes, and move up the order of sharps. That’s what we’ve been doing in this whole series of posts. F is the last white key scale to memorize according to this system.
Scales To Learn Next:
Once you’re done learning the F 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 instead the order I recommend learning them in!
More Music Theory:
Congratulations! You now know all your white key scales. Give yourself a pat on the back, but don’t get comfortable. From here, you should be practicing all your scales as a warm up before playing songs. And once you have them all mastered, you can start learning black key scales, which are a whole new ball game. I can’t wait to start that journey with you soon. 🙂