Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

Piano theory lessons

So, I haven’t showed up much in this forgotten corner of the forum, because I don’t usually think of theory, and don’t usually think I can add anything helpful. But now, I’ve just started piano/theory lessons with the music director at church. My first assignment is to completely learn the sharp side of the circle of fifths. Completely. This means learning all the scales forward and backward. Recited in under two minutes. By Monday. Sooooooooo, I’ll keep you posted on if I succeed or not


Hey Gunnar, that’s awesome. I suspect you already know everything you need. C has no sharps (or flats). If you go up a 5th from C that is G which has one sharp (why it is called a circle of 5ths). Your guitar fretboard shows you those 5ths. C is 3rd fret on the A string… go down one string on the same fret (3rd fret on the E string) and you arrive at a G. You can also go up one string and up two frets to get the higher octave 5th (5th fret on the D string, like a G rock 2 note chord). Like I said, G has one sharp. Continue finding your fifths and you work your way through the keys:
C = 0 sharps
G = 1 sharps
D = 2 sharps
A = 3 sharps
E = 4 sharps
B = 5 sharps
F# = 6 sharps
C# = 7 sharps
Now that you know how MANY sharps are in each one, you just need to know WHICH notes are sharp. Sharps are added in 5ths as well, starting with F. Going up a 5th from F, you get to C, then you can follow the list we just wrote. F C G D A E B. Put those two pieces of info together and you have the sharps licked…
C = 0 sharps
G = 1… F is sharp
D = 2… F and C are sharp
A = 3… F, C, G are sharp
E = 4… F, C, G, D are sharp
B = 5… F, C, G, D, A are sharp
F# = 6… F, C, G, D, A, E are sharp
C# = 7… F, C, G, D, A, E, B (everything that is) are all sharp
I hope that helps. Two minutes to recite all 8 scales forward and backward is going to be tough, but I bet you can do it.


BTW, when you go the other way and worry about flats, it’s sort of the same in reverse. Flats are added starting with B, so the flatted notes in order are B E A D G C F (the sharps in reverse).

Yeah, that’s what I was taught. Reciting even the C scale forward and backward is difficult, so I’m having to practice just saying them a lot. But these lessons will be very helpful as a musician. And yes, I do know everything, but it’s about more than knowledge

Good luck! I have a tough time forcing myself to do anything mundane like this, even though I know how useful it is.

Did you happen to catch the Circle if 5ths video Archie posted recently?

Thanks, it’s tough for me too.

I don’t believe I did, but probably cuz my phone couldn’t play it

@Dragonslayer I know a guy who had no music knowledge whatsoever at all learnt scales and played by hearing beautifully within say a span of 2 years, I’m sure you would do it. So another popular pianoist in the making?? :slight_smile:

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I succeeded! 1 minute and 11 seconds. This week’s homework is to learn all twelve minor chords, and be able to recite all eight flat scales forward and backwards. I’ll keep y’all posted


Great job, @Dragonslayer!

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I managed that last task, now I need to know all twelve seventh and major 7th chords


Just bumping this, I’ve learned quite a lot. Last week I had to make three different chord progressions for Jesus loves me. (Chord substitutions) this week I had to do one more, but follow the “rules” (I didn’t lasy time) so, I’ve learned a lot of valuable stuff, and also gotten a little better at piano in the process