How to play Chromatic Scales On The Piano

Chromatic Scale Piano

How To Play a Chromatic Scale on the Piano

A chromatic scale is a series of 12 half steps up and 12 half steps down. A half step is the smallest distance between 2 notes in Western music. So, on the piano, a half step from any given note is the very next note, whether it is black or white. (Like E to F or B to C on the picture below)

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Chromatic Scale Fingering Rules

In a way the chromatic scale is the easiest of all the scales because you don’t really have to think about which notes to play and which notes not to play. You play every note! The trick is memorizing the fingering. There are just a couple rules to follow to play a chromatic scale starting on any note with ease.
Rule 1: You can only play black notes with your 3rd finger on both hands
Rule 2: You can only use your 2nd finger when you have two white keys next to each other with no black key between them.
Rule 3: For every other white note, use your thumb.
In this example, we start on C with finger 1 but these rules apply no matter what note you start on.

Don’t Think Key Signature

Since you play every single note in a chromatic scale, you don’t have to think about a key signature and you can focus completely on the fingering accuracy and build up speed. It’s one of my favorite technical exercises for kids because it’s relatively easy compared to other scales and they have fun with it! Fun and scale in the same sentence?! YES! Chromatic scales are fun!

Sounding Amazing

When you can play your chromatic scales easily they sound amazing and you’ll have to smile when people listening look at you in amazement. You’ll know how truly easy they really are.

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