Scales, Arpeggios and Triads for Piano

major-minor-scalesWhile scales, arpeggios and triads may not sound like the most trilling of subjects, if you’re serious about learning the piano, they’re essential.

Not convinced? Let me try to persuade you with a few handy bullet points:

  • Playing scales is a great work out for your fingers – especially if played with a firm steady action rather than raced through, skipping lightly over the keys. As such, they develop dexterity (small motor skills), hand strength (which is vital for good tone control), endurance and, therefore, confidence.
  • Because the notes are more spread out in arpeggios, they are great for stretching the finger muscles and increasing the reach of both hands, while the turning of your wrists will develop greater fluidity in your playing.
  • Played correctly, triads build the strength of your lower hand muscles (those at the base of your thumb and the little finger). They also help to fix hand shapes of all chords into your muscle memory and develop combination finger control.
  • As Western music is built around major and minor scale tonality, knowledge of scales, arpeggios and triads will allow you to have a firm grasp of how music works.
  • If you intend playing rock, pop or country songs, or similar, you’ll not only need the ability to play chords in all their inversions, but also an understanding of what chords go with which keys and why. Scales, arpeggios and triads will equip you with all these things.
  • There will be times when you need to play  a piece or song in a different key from the one it’s written in. At such times, you need to be able to transpose the music quickly and confidently. This is only possible if you know how each major and minor key is put together – which notes should be sharps and flats, which keys are closely related and so on. If you know your scales, you’ll nail it!

This is by no means an exhaustive lists, it’s just the first six things that came to mind. If you want to know how else scales, arpeggios and triads can benefit your piano playing, the best way is to find out for yourself.

To this end, I have put together a six page PDF with all 12 major and minor scales, together with their arpeggios and triads. These are all written out as single octaves, but the fingering is such that adding extra octaves is a simple matter of repetition.

Here’s the PDF: Major and Minor Scales.pdf

Enjoy! You never know, they just might turn out to be fun as well as hugely beneficial.