Essential Music Theory Every Piano Student Should Know

Essential Music Theory Every Piano Student Should Know

There are a lot of things that piano students need to learn. You would probably be surprised by how many different aspects you need to master that make up the instrument. For example, you have to take into account the technique, tone quality, rhythm and articulation when playing the piano. But one crucial skill every pianist needs is note reading because it’s not just about knowing what notes go where on the keyboard; it’s understanding how notes fit together as chords or melodies over time. Here are the essential music theory every piano student should know:

The Major Scale

The major scale is made up of seven notes, and it’s the most commonly used scale in Gilbert music. The root note is found at the first degree of the scale, and each note of the scale ascends by a whole step, except for when it descends by a half step from the fifth to sixth degrees. The pattern repeats again from degrees seven to twelve.

The Minor Scale

The minor scale is also made up of seven notes, but has a different pattern than its relative major counterpart. The sixth and seventh degree of the scale descends by a half step instead. The pattern also repeats itself again from degrees seven to twelve.

The Modes

Essential Music

There are three different modes of the major scale, and they are made up of different sets of notes than the traditional major scale. These modes include the Ionian, Dorian and Phrygian scales, which are all made up of seven notes each.


An interval is the distance between two notes, and it’s a useful way to describe the relationship between notes. There are four different kinds of intervals: unison, second, third and fourth.


When you practice piano lessons, it’s important to learn how chords work. A chord is made up of multiple notes played simultaneously, and the most common chords include triads, seventh, ninth and eleventh chords. Each chord is built using different notes than its relative counterpart on the scale.

Chord Progressions

A chord progression is a series of chords played together as a melody, or played as accompaniment for a melody. One important thing to understand about chord progressions is that they are not always in the key of the song.