How to Use the Pentatonic Scales to Improvise on the Piano

Posted by Yoke Wong on 4/22/2015 to Piano Improvisation

The pentatonic scales are a great way to learn how to improvise on the piano. As you might expect from the name, a pentatonic scale has five notes. For example, a C major pentatonic scale consists of C, D, E, G, and A or the first, second, third, fifth, and sixth notes of the major scale. Or for F major, the notes in the pentatonic scale are F, G, A, C, and D. As long as you know your regular major and minor scales, you can always figure out your major and minor pentatonic scales. Learning the formula for the pentatonic scale allows you to put together a wide array of note combinations for your piano improvisation.

When you're first attempting improvisation with a pentatonic scale, many people find it easiest to focus on the right hand only. Let's go back to C major, which has the notes C, D, E, G, and A. Try using just these five notes to make up right hand melodies. Don't be afraid to experiment with different combinations of notes and different rhythms. Try playing higher notes and then lower notes to determine which sound you like better. With only five notes, you should be able to think about the notion of improvising and have the freedom to improvise lots of different types of music without getting overwhelmed.

Focus on putting together interesting melodies instead of just playing single notes so that you form whole phrases. Some people find it helpful to make their phrases legato or smooth so that the notes are connected and not choppy. Don't lift up one note until you're ready to play the next note to help make the phrases more connected.

Learn to Play Piano in 7 Days LessonsIf you are a beginner and would like to learn more about improvisation, consider purchasing our Learn to Play Piano and Improvise in 7 Days – Digital Download course. In one week, we take you through identifying the piano keys, counting notes, and playing the major and minor scales; major, minor, diminished, and augmented chords; and basic chord progressions. With step-by-step instructions, full sheet music, and extensive exercises, you have everything that you need to learn improvisation quickly and easily.

Definitive Piano Improvisation lessonsIf you are an intermediate or advanced player, our award-winning course - Definitive Piano Improvisation will teach you how to dress up music by using different chords and chord progressions. And you can play piano without depending on sheet music.

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18 Comments

Fashina
Date: 4/23/2015
I really enjoyed your pentatonic scale improvisation. May God continues to uphold you. Please, I need more clue on how to solo on piano. Thanks in anticipation.
Amy
Date: 4/23/2015
Hi Fashina! Have you learned how to play runs and fillers? This is another technique that you do to make your music sound more beautiful. They are ornaments in your piano playing.
Fashina
Date: 4/23/2015
I have not learned how to play runs and fillers. Now, I would like to come and study music in the USA for the period of six months in other to enhance my playing because I am really enjoying every bits of your video clips. I am in Nigeria right now. Please, what can I do?
Amy
Date: 4/23/2015
Hi Fashina! We will send you an email to help you with your piano playing. We would be glad to help you improve your piano playing.
Cricket Cohen
Date: 4/23/2015
Try playing the signature sound of The Temptations hit song "My Girl" with the the C major pentatonic moving to the F major pentatonic!
Amy
Date: 4/23/2015
Hi Fashina! We would love to help you improve your piano playing. Please check your inbox for the email we sent you.
Chris Tembo
Date: 4/24/2015
Great lesson. Can do a Video on how to arpeggiate on piano.
Silas Srinivas
Date: 4/25/2015
It is very nice music. It is new to me as I am beginner. I had unanswered question about compose of Melody notes. Now this vidoe clip given me a way to compose melody notes. Thank you. God Bless you.
MICHAEL EBINUM
Date: 4/25/2015
Thank you for your highlight on offerred services. How can I link up to your piano classes on website. I have internet servises and my personal laptop. Please explain the process in details. Thank you Ma.
keji joseph
Date: 4/25/2015
Thanks. I am just learning the basics.
IEmilia Diaz
Date: 4/26/2015
how do I order ypur Definitive improvusation nook?
John
Date: 4/26/2015
Hi IEmillia, Here is the order page. On the order page, just click "Add to Cart" button to order the course. You can order our courses with your credit or debit card, or PayPal account. http://www.pianomother.com/Definitive-Piano-Improvisation.html Thanks. John
A Sham
Date: 4/26/2015
What a timely revision for improvising on the piano! Thank you very much, Yoke, for your refresher lesson from time to time. Really appreciate your wonderful teaching! May God continue to bless you in bringing more beautiful music to us!
Peter Hartono
Date: 5/25/2015
Hi, I bought 'Raise me up' and am learning it. But my finger could be placed accurately on the correct key. Any suggestion will be appreciated. Peter
Amy
Date: 5/26/2015
I understand that sometimes it is difficult to get your fingers on the correct key. Just continue to practice. Start from a slow tempo then slowly increase your tempo when you are confident with the notes.
see
Date: 5/27/2015
how i can practice?
see
Date: 5/27/2015
Amy
Date: 5/27/2015
Hi See, are you asking us about tips on practicing piano?

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