GRADE 3

Complete Guide to Major & Minor Scales (Volume 1)


PIANO METHOD (HOME)



TO TEACHERS & STUDENTS: The objective of Grade 3 is to learn all 12 major scales one octave harmonized in thirds, sixths, and tenths at a slow tempo. This is spread out over a total of 12 weeks, not including the “Exam”. Ideally, each “Lesson” equals one week, but could be extended to two weeks for students who either learn at a slower pace and/or have less time to practice. Conversely, for students who are unusually gifted and/or fast learners, two or perhaps three lessons could be learned in one week. In any case, students should avoid rushing through lessons and skipping steps. The better one can learn these rudimentary lessons, the stronger one’s overall technical and theoretical foundation will become. The average student should spend at least 10-15 minutes daily on each lesson, making the learning of major scales an integral part of their overall daily piano practice. Each lesson corresponds with musical systems (lines) in the book. Simply screen-shot or print out each lesson and use the instructions as a guide to help work your way through the book! 

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WEEKLY LESSON CURRICULUM FOR GRADE 3

LESSON 1 (lines 1c – 1e):  C MAJOR

  1. Examine line 1c. The bottom part (with note stems going downwards, meaning to play with the LH) shows the C major scale, while the top part (with note stems going upwards, meaning to play the RH) shows the same scale but starting on E instead of C. The distance (or interval) from the bottom C to the E above is called a third because all the letters between the bottom and top parts (C-D-E) add to three. In music, adding a part a third above the main melody is one of the main ways to harmonize a melody. This means that the C major scale is harmonized above in thirds or harmonized in thirds or simply in thirds.
  2. Now, let us play this scale. First, play just the LH ascending and descending a few times. Next, play just the RH ascending and descending a few times. Notice that the RH fingering is the same as the C major fingering for the RH, except the third finger begins on E. Finally, try playing the scale with hands together. It may feel a bit awkward at first, but with a little practice it becomes easy, and the sound of harmonizing in thirds is especially beautiful.
  3. Now, examine line 1d. Notice that the beginning notes in the treble and bass clefs (C on the top, E on the bottom) are the same as the beginning notes in line 1c but switched around (C on the bottom, E on the top). This means that line 1d is an inversion of line 1c (To “invert” an interval means to exchange the notes or flip them around.) In other words, the scale in line 1d begins with the main note C on the top with the harmonized note E on the bottom, which is the opposite from line 1c where the main note C is on the bottom with the harmonized note E on top. This means that the C major scale is harmonized below in sixths because all the letters between the bottom and top parts (E-F-G-A-B-C) add to six. Thus, here is a rule in music: thirds inverted become sixths, and sixths inverted become thirds
  4. Now, let us play the scale in line 1d. First, play just the RH ascending and descending a few times. Next, play just the LH ascending and descending a few times. Notice that the LH fingering is the same as the C major fingering for the LH, except the third finger begins on E. Finally, try playing the scale with hands together. It may feel a bit awkward at first, but with a little practice it becomes easy, and the sound of harmonizing in sixths is even more beautiful than harmonizing in thirds.
  5. Finally, examine line 1e. Compare this scale with that in line 1c. They are the same except the E a third above C in line 1e has an extra octave. Therefore, the scales in lines 1c and 1e are identical and played with same fingering, except the hands are an extra octave apart in line 1e (which actually makes it a bit easier to play). If you can play line 1c than you can play line 1e. In this case, the C major scale is harmonized above in tenths because all the letters between the bottom and top parts (C-D-E-F-G-A-B-C-D-E) add to ten.   
  6. For lines 1c-1e, aim for a metronome speed of 84 bpm (beats per minute). That is, set the metronome to 84 and play one note for each click. Focus on producing a beautiful tone and avoid “mashing” notes down in a percussive fashion. Practice the three lines 1c-1e one after another memorized. This will help your understanding of key concepts of music theory or musical harmony. Also, you will enrich your ears because scales in thirds, sixths, and tenths are much richer and pleasing sounding than scales in octaves.  

LESSON 2 (lines 2c – 2e):  G MAJOR

This is a simplified or shortened version of Lesson 1 applied to G major. For more detailed explanations, please refer to the steps in Lesson 1 but substitute “lines 1c-1e” with “lines 2c-2e”.  

  1. Examine line 2c. This is G major harmonized above in thirds or simply G major in thirds. Play the LH alone ascending and descending a few times slowly. Now do the same with the RH. Notice that the RH fingering is the same as the G major fingering for the RH, except the third finger begins on C. Finally, play the scale with hands together.  
  2. Examine line 2d. This is an inversion of line 2c, since the G below and B above are exchanged to a B below and G above. This inversion results in G major harmonized below in sixths or simply G major in sixths. Play the RH alone ascending and descending a few times slowly. Now do the same with the LH. Notice that the LH fingering is the same as the G major fingering for the LH, except the third finger begins on C. Finally, play the scale with hands together. 
  3. Examine line 2e. This is G major harmonized above in tenths or simply G major in tenths. It is the same as G major in thirds in line 2c, except the G below and B above are separated with an extra octave. The fingering is the same for both variations of the scale.
  4. For lines 2c-2e, aim for a metronome speed of 84 bpm for each eighth note. Practice these three lines one after another memorized.   

LESSON 3 (lines 3c – 3e):  D MAJOR

This is a simplified or shortened version of Lesson 1 applied to D major. For more detailed explanations, please refer to the steps in Lesson 1 but substitute “lines 1c-1e” with “lines 3c-3e”.  

  1. Examine line 3c. This is D major harmonized above in thirds or simply D major in thirds. Play the LH alone ascending and descending a few times slowly. Now do the same with the RH. Notice that the RH fingering is the same as the D major fingering for the RH, except the third finger begins on F#. Finally, play the scale with hands together.  
  2. Examine line 3d. This is an inversion of line 3c, since the D below and F# above are exchanged to an F# below and D above. This inversion results in D major harmonized below in sixths or simply D major in sixths. Play the RH alone ascending and descending a few times slowly. Now do the same with the LH. Notice that the LH fingering is the same as the D major fingering for the LH, except the third finger begins on F#. Finally, play the scale with hands together. 
  3. Examine line 3e. This is D major harmonized above in tenths or simply D major in tenths. It is the same as D major in thirds in line 3c, except the D below and F# above are separated with an extra octave. The fingering is the same for both variations of the scale.
  4. For lines 3c-3e, aim for a metronome speed of 84 bpm for each eighth note. Practice these three lines one after another memorized.   

LESSON 4 (lines 4c – 4e):  A MAJOR

This is a simplified or shortened version of Lesson 1 applied to A major. For more detailed explanations, please refer to the steps in Lesson 1 but substitute “lines 1c-1e” with “lines 4c-4e”.  

  1. Examine line 4c. This is A major harmonized above in thirds or simply A major in thirds. Play the LH alone ascending and descending a few times slowly. Now do the same with the RH. Notice that the RH fingering is the same as the A major fingering for the RH, except the third finger begins on C#. Finally, play the scale with hands together.  
  2. Examine line 4d. This is an inversion of line 4c, since the A below and C# above are exchanged to a C# below and A above. This inversion results in A major harmonized below in sixths or simply A major in sixths. Play the RH alone ascending and descending a few times slowly. Now do the same with the LH. Notice that the LH fingering is the same as the A major fingering for the LH, except the third finger begins on C#. Finally, play the scale with hands together. 
  3. Examine line 4e. This is A major harmonized above in tenths or simply A major in tenths. It is the same as A major in thirds in line 4c, except the A below and C# above are separated with an extra octave. The fingering is the same for both variations of the scale.
  4. For lines 3c-3e, aim for a metronome speed of 84 bpm for each eighth note. Practice these three lines one after another memorized.   

LESSON 5 (lines 5c –5e):  E MAJOR

This is a simplified or shortened version of Lesson 1 applied to E major. For more detailed explanations, please refer to the steps in Lesson 1 but substitute “lines 1c-1e” with “lines 5c-5e”.  

  1. Examine line 5c. This is E major harmonized above in thirds or simply E major in thirds. Play the LH alone ascending and descending a few times slowly. Now do the same with the RH. Notice that the RH fingering is the same as the E major fingering for the RH, except the third finger begins on G#. Finally, play the scale with hands together.  
  2. Examine line 5d. This is an inversion of line 5c, since the E below and G# above are exchanged to a G# below and E above. This inversion results in E major harmonized below in sixths or simply E major in sixths. Play the RH alone ascending and descending a few times slowly. Now do the same with the LH. Notice that the LH fingering is the same as the E major fingering for the LH, except the third finger begins on G#. Finally, play the scale with hands together. 
  3. Examine line 5e. This is E major harmonized above in tenths or simply E major in tenths. It is the same as E major in thirds in line 5c, except the E below and G# above are separated with an extra octave. The fingering is the same for both variations of the scale.
  4. For lines 5c-5e, aim for a metronome speed of 84 bpm for each eighth note. Practice these three lines one after another memorized.   

LESSON 6 (lines 6c – 6e):  B MAJOR

This is a simplified or shortened version of Lesson 1 applied to B major. For more detailed explanations, please refer to the steps in Lesson 1 but substitute “lines 1c-1e” with “lines 6c-6e”.  

  1. Examine line 6c. This is B major harmonized above in thirds or simply B major in thirds. Play the LH alone ascending and descending a few times slowly. Now do the same with the RH. Notice that the RH fingering is the same as the B major fingering for the RH, except the third (or second) finger begins on D#. Finally, play the scale with hands together.  
  2. Examine line 6d. This is an inversion of line 6c, since the B below and D# above are exchanged to a D# below and B above. This inversion results in B major harmonized below in sixths or simply B major in sixths. Play the RH alone ascending and descending a few times slowly. Now do the same with the LH. Notice that the LH fingering is the same as the B major fingering for the LH, except the second finger begins on D#. Finally, play the scale with hands together. 
  3. Examine line 6e. This is B major harmonized above in tenths or simply B major in tenths. It is the same as B major in thirds in line 6c, except the B below and D# above are separated with an extra octave. The fingering is the same for both variations of the scale.
  4. For lines 6c-6e, aim for a metronome speed of 84 bpm for each eighth note. Practice these three lines one after another memorized.   

LESSON 7 (lines 8c – 8e):  F MAJOR

This is a simplified or shortened version of Lesson 1 applied to F major. For more detailed explanations, please refer to the steps in Lesson 1 but substitute “lines 1c-1e” with “lines 8c-8e”.  

  1. Examine line 8c. This is F major harmonized above in thirds or simply F major in thirds. Play the LH alone ascending and descending a few times slowly. Now do the same with the RH. Notice that the RH fingering is the same as the F major fingering for the RH, except the third (or second) finger begins on A. Finally, play the scale with hands together.  
  2. Examine line 8d. This is an inversion of line 8c, since the F below and A above are exchanged to an A below and F above. This inversion results in F major harmonized below in sixths or simply F major in sixths. Play the RH alone ascending and descending a few times slowly. Now do the same with the LH. Notice that the LH fingering is the same as the F major fingering for the LH, except the third finger begins on A. Finally, play the scale with hands together. 
  3. Examine line 8e. This is F major harmonized above in tenths or simply F major in tenths. It is the same as G major in thirds in line 8c, except the F below and A above are separated with an extra octave. The fingering is the same for both variations of the scale.
  4. For lines 8c-8e, aim for a metronome speed of 84 bpm for each eighth note. Practice these three lines one after another memorized.   

LESSON 8 (lines 9c – 9e):  B-FLAT MAJOR

This is a simplified or shortened version of Lesson 1 applied to B-flat major. For more detailed explanations, please refer to the steps in Lesson 1 but substitute “lines 1c-1e” with “lines 9c-9e”.  

  1. Examine line 9c. This is B-flat major harmonized above in thirds or simply B-flat major in thirds. Play the LH alone ascending and descending a few times slowly. Now do the same with the RH. Notice that the RH fingering is the same as the B-flat major fingering for the RH, except the second finger begins on D. Finally, play the scale with hands together.  
  2. Examine line 9d. This is an inversion of line 9c, since the Bb below and D above are exchanged to a D below and Bb above. This inversion results in B-flat major harmonized below in sixths or simply B-flat major in sixths. Play the RH alone ascending and descending a few times slowly. Now do the same with the LH. Notice that the LH fingering is the same as the B-flat major fingering for the LH, except the fifth finger begins on D. Finally, play the scale with hands together. 
  3. Examine line 9e. This is B-flat major harmonized above in tenths or simply B-flat major in tenths. It is the same as B-flat major in thirds in line 9c, except the Bb below and D above are separated with an extra octave. The fingering is the same for both variations of the scale.
  4. For lines 9c-9e, aim for a metronome speed of 84 bpm for each eighth note. Practice these three lines one after another memorized.   

LESSON 9 (lines 10c – 10e):  E-FLAT MAJOR

This is a simplified or shortened version of Lesson 1 applied to E-flat major. For more detailed explanations, please refer to the steps in Lesson 1 but substitute “lines 1c-1e” with “lines 10c-10e”.  

  1. Examine line 10c. This is E-flat major harmonized above in thirds or simply E-flat major in thirds. Play the LH alone ascending and descending a few times slowly. Now do the same with the RH. Notice that the RH fingering is the same as the E-flat major fingering for the RH, except the thumb begins on G. Finally, play the scale with hands together.  
  2. Examine line 10d. This is an inversion of line 10c, since the Eb below and G above are exchanged to a G below and Eb above. This inversion results in E-flat major harmonized below in sixths or simply E-flat major in sixths. Play the RH alone ascending and descending a few times slowly. Now do the same with the LH. Notice that the LH fingering is the same as the E-flat major fingering for the LH, except the fifth finger begins on G. Finally, play the scale with hands together. 
  3. Examine line 10e. This is E-flat major harmonized above in tenths or simply E-flat major in tenths. It is the same as E-flat major in thirds in line 10c, except the Eb below and G above are separated with an extra octave. The fingering is the same for both variations of the scale.
  4. For lines 10c-10e, aim for a metronome speed of 84 bpm for each eighth note. Practice these three lines one after another memorized.   

LESSON 10 (lines 11c – 11e):  A-FLAT MAJOR

This is a simplified or shortened version of Lesson 1 applied to A-flat major. For more detailed explanations, please refer to the steps in Lesson 1 but substitute “lines 1c-1e” with “lines 11c-11e”.  

  1. Examine line 11c. This is A-flat major harmonized above in thirds or simply A-flat major in thirds. Play the LH alone ascending and descending a few times slowly. Now do the same with the RH. Notice that the RH fingering is the same as the A-flat major fingering for the RH, except the thumb begins on C. Finally, play the scale with hands together.  
  2. Examine line 11d. This is an inversion of line 11c, since the A-flat below and C above are exchanged to a C below and Ab above. This inversion results in A-flat major harmonized below in sixths or simply A-flat major in sixths. Play the RH alone ascending and descending a few times slowly. Now do the same with the LH. Notice that the LH fingering is the same as the A-flat major fingering for the LH, except the fifth finger begins on C. Finally, play the scale with hands together. 
  3. Examine line 11e. This is A-flat major harmonized above in tenths or simply A-flat major in tenths. It is the same as A-flat major in thirds in line 11c, except the Ab below and C above are separated with an extra octave. The fingering is the same for both variations of the scale.
  4. For lines 11c-11e, aim for a metronome speed of 84 bpm for each eighth note. Practice these three lines one after another memorized.   

LESSON 11 (lines 12c – 12e):  D-FLAT MAJOR

This is a simplified or shortened version of Lesson 1 applied to D-flat major. For more detailed explanations, please refer to the steps in Lesson 1 but substitute “lines 1c-1e” with “lines 12c-12e”.  

  1. Examine line 12c. This is D-flat major harmonized above in thirds or simply D-flat major in thirds. Play the LH alone ascending and descending a few times slowly. Now do the same with the RH. Notice that the RH fingering is the same as the D-flat major fingering for the RH, except the thumb begins on F. Finally, play the scale with hands together.  
  2. Examine line 12d. This is an inversion of line 12c, since the Db below and F above are exchanged to an F below and Ab above. This inversion results in D-flat major harmonized below in sixths or simply D-flat major in sixths. Play the RH alone ascending and descending a few times slowly. Now do the same with the LH. Notice that the LH fingering is the same as the D-flat major fingering for the LH, except the fifth finger begins on F. Finally, play the scale with hands together. 
  3. Examine line 12e. This is D-flat major harmonized above in tenths or simply D-flat major in tenths. It is the same as D-flat major in thirds in line 12c, except the Db below and F above are separated with an extra octave. The fingering is the same for both variations of the scale.
  4. For lines 12c-12e, aim for a metronome speed of 84 bpm for each eighth note. Practice these three lines one after another memorized.   

LESSON 12 (lines 13c – 13e):  G-FLAT MAJOR

This is a simplified or shortened version of Lesson 1 applied to G-flat major. For more detailed explanations, please refer to the steps in Lesson 1 but substitute “lines 1c-1e” with “lines 13c-13e”.  

  1. Examine line 13c. This is G-flat major harmonized above in thirds or simply G-flat major in thirds. Play the LH alone ascending and descending a few times slowly. Now do the same with the RH. Notice that the RH fingering is the same as the G-flat major fingering for the RH, except the second finger begins on Bb. Finally, play the scale with hands together.  
  2. Examine line 13d. This is an inversion of line 13c, since the Gb below and Bb above are exchanged to a Bb below and Gb above. This inversion results in G-flat major harmonized below in sixths or simply G-flat major in sixths. Play the RH alone ascending and descending a few times slowly. Now do the same with the LH. Notice that the LH fingering is the same as the G-flat major fingering for the LH, except the second finger begins on Bb. Finally, play the scale with hands together. 
  3. Examine line 13e. This is G-flat major harmonized above in tenths or simply G-flat major in tenths. It is the same as G-flat major in thirds in line 13c, except the Gb below and Bb above are separated with an extra octave. The fingering is the same for both variations of the scale.
  4. For lines 13c-13e, aim for a metronome speed of 84 bpm for each eighth note. Practice these three lines one after another memorized.   

EXAM FOR GRADE 3

  1. Play each of the twelve major scales in thirds, sixths, and tenths each two times in a row with no stopping at a slow tempo with the correct fingering. No metronome is needed. 
  2. Play them in their correct order of increasing sharps and flats as in Lessons 1-12. 
  3. Before playing each scale, say “This is the __ major scale and it has __ sharps, which are___.” (Name the sharps or flats in the correct order.)
  4. Everything must be memorized.

Once the Exam for Grade 1 has been completed successfully, you are ready to move on to Grade 4!

START GRADE 4

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