Free Beginner Keyboard Lessons, 10 – Key of Em. E Harmonic Minor Scale. Tetrachords. Chromatic Scale.

Welcome to part 10 of our beginner keyboard lessons. In this lesson we take a look at the following:

  • Key of E Minor
  • The E Harmonic Scale
  • The Primary Chords in E Minor
  • Tetrachords
  • Key of D Major
  • D Major Scale
  • Primary Chords in D Major
  • The Chromatic Scale

Key of E Minor

Let’s now take a look at the key of E minor (Em).

E minor key (G major) key signatureG major (E minor) key signature

In the previous lesson we talked about relative minor keys. Let’s continue on that note. E minor is the relative of G major. Both keys have the same key signature and consist of one sharp, F♯. The relative minor begins on the 6th tone of the major scale.

Watch this lesson:

The E Natural Minor Scale

The notes of the E natural minor scale are E F♯ G A B C D. Remember that the natural minor uses only notes of the major scale. The only difference is where the scale starts. The scale starts on the 6th tone of the major scale.

The E Harmonic Minor Scale

In a harmonic minor scale the 7th tone is raised by a semitone, ascending and descending. In the case of E minor, D is raised to D♯. Every time this note occurs it is written as an accidental. We’ve already seen that an accidental is a note that is not contained in the key signature.

So the notes for the E Harmonic minor scale are E F♯ G A B C D♯.

As part of these beginner keyboard lessons, spend time practicing the E harmonic minor scale. What is the fingering for this scale? Let’s find out.

The right hand fingering for the E harmonic minor scale is 1 2 3 1 2 3 4 5 ascending, and 5 4 3 2 1 3 2 1 descending.

The left hand fingering for the E harmonic minor scale is 5 4 3 2 1 3 2 1 ascending and 1 2 3 1 2 3 4 5 descending. Practice this scale with hands separately, then together in a contrary motion.

The primary chords in E minor are E minor (Em), A minor (Am) and B7.

For a more integrated approach to learning to play the keyboard, I recommend Rocket Piano. 


A major tetrachord is a series of four notes, in ascending order, with the following sequence: whole step – whole step – half step. So let’s say we start on the note C. One whole step gives us C-D. Another whole step gives us C-D-E. Add a half step and we have C-D-E-F. The notes of a tetrachord must be in alphabetical order.

How about starting on the note, D? If we start on D, a whole step brings us to D-E. Another whole step takes us to D-E-F♯. Add a half step and we’ve got D-E-F♯-G.

A major scale is made up of two tetrachords joined by a whole step.

To continue our beginner keyboard lessons, let’s look at the key of D major.

The D Major Scale

The D major scale is made up of the tetrachord D-E-F♯-G, joined by a whole step that takes us to A. The other tetrachord starts at A and consists of the notes A-B-C♯-D.

D major key signature:D major key signature

Chromatic Scale (Ascending and Descending):Chromatic scale

Next in our beginner keyboard lessons we take a look at the chromatic scale. The chromatic scale (as can be seen above) is made up entirely of half steps. Whether ascending or descending on the keyboard, all black and white notes are used. A chromatic scale can begin on any note.

How to play a chromatic scale (chromatic scale fingering)

Use finger 3 on each black key.

Use finger 1 on each white key except when two white keys are together (E and F, B and C). In that case use fingers 1-2 for the left hand and fingers 2-1 for the right hand.

The left hand fingering for the chromatic scale starting on C is 1 3 1 3 2 1 3 1 3 1 3 2 1, ascending.

The right hand fingering for the chromatic scale starting on C is 1 3 1 3 1 2 3 1 3 1 3 1 2, ascending.

Chromatic scales are a lot of fun. Practice playing them one hand at a time then play both hands together and in contrary motion.

Piano Scales

For a great way to learn to play keyboard without having to go through the traditional boring way, 

Piano/Keyboard Lessons:

  1. Lesson One
  2. Lesson Two
  3. Lesson Three
  4. Lesson Four
  5. Lesson Five
  6. Lesson Six
  7. Lesson Seven
  8. Lesson Eight
  9. Lesson Nine
  10. Lesson Ten
  11. Lesson Eleven
  12. Lesson Twelve

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