Quickly Learn and Remember how to Spell
The Major and Natural Minor Scales

Created by
Max Maxwell

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How to Name the Sharps or Flats in Every Major Key

You are ready to practice identifying how many sharps or flats are in every major key. You already know that every Key / Note Image represents one major key with sharps and one major key with flats. In the last Focal Point you learned to connect two Number Images to every Key / Note Image. The first Number Image is the number of sharps for the key with sharps. The second Number Image is the number of flats for the key with flats. For example, fin represents F# Major and F Major. The images are fin-sticks-ton. The first Number Image sticks rhymes with six, so F# Major has six sharps. The second Number Image ton rhymes with one, so F Major has one flat. It works the same way for all the Key / Note Images.

The first Number Image representing the sharps in the major key with sharps always touches the Key / Note Image. For example, the fin is touched by the sticks, the gear is touched by the bun, the arm is touch by the tree and so on. The second Number Image, which represents the number of flats in the major key with flats, always only touches the first Number Image. For example, the ton is balancing on the sticks, the socks come out of the bun, the fork is sticking into the tree and so on.

Exercise 6-A:

Without looking, say each image from the Key / Note Image list (fin, car, gear, die, arm, ear, bike) in the forward order and name the Number Images associated with them. This time also say how many sharps or flats that each Number Image represents. The first Number Image is always the number of sharps, the second Number Image is always the number of flats. For example, for fin say, “Fin, sticks-six sharps, ton-one flat.” Do this for each set of images going in the forward order. Use the information below to check your answers. Practice this until you can quickly do it from memory for all Key / Note Images.

fin                                                     car

sticks = 6 #s, ton = 1 b                        sore van = 7 #s, sore van = 7 bs

F# Major (6 #s), F Major (1 b)                   C# Major (7 #s), Cb Major (7 bs)

gear                                                      die

bun = 1 #, socks = 6 bs                                     shoe = 2 #s, hive = 5 bs

G Major (1 #), Gb Major (6 bs)                        D Major (2 #s), Db Major (5 bs)

arm                                                       ear

tree = 3 #s, fork = 4 bs                                     door = 4 #s, tee = 3 bs

A Major (3 #s), Ab Major (4 bs)                       E Major (4 #s), Eb Major (3 bs)

bike

fife = 5 #s, tube = 2 bs

B Major (5 #s), Bb Major (2 bs)

Below are examples of the process for determining the number of sharps or flats in a major key when you are starting with the major key name.

Starting With a Major Key Name

Example 1:

If you want to name the sharp notes in the key of G Major, just think:

“G Major, what Key / Note Image starts with G?”

You know that gear starts with G.

Use the first Number Image on top of the gear to know the number of sharps.

Bun rhymes with one, so G Major has one sharp.

Name the sharp by seeing the Key / Note Images in the forward order, fin = F#. G Major has one sharp, which is F#. With just a little practice this will become fast and easy.

Example 2:

To name the flat notes in the key of Ab Major, think:

Ab Major, What Key / Note Image starts with A?

You know that arm starts with A.

Use the second Number Image on top of the arm to know the number of flats.

Fork rhymes with four, so Ab Major has 4 flats.

To name the flats, see the Key / Note Images representing the four flats in the backward order, bike = Bb, ear = Eb, arm = Ab and die = Db.

Ab Major has four flats, which are Bb, Eb, Ab and Db.

Example 3:

To name the sharp notes in the key of E Major, think:

E Major, what Key / Note Image starts with E?

You know that ear starts with E.

Use the first Number Image on top of the ear to know the number of sharps.

Door rhymes with four, so E Major has 4 sharps.

To name the sharps, see the Key / Note Images representing the sharps in the forward order, fin = F#, car = C#, gear = G# and die = D#

E Major has four sharps which are F#, C#, G# and D#.

Every time you name sharps or flats using the forward and backward order of the Key / Note Image list, the order of notes will match the order they appear in that major key’s key signature. Below Gb Major has its flats listed in the backward image order, notice it is also the same order as on the staff.

Gb Major

1. Bb    2. Eb    3. Ab    4. Db   5. Gb    6.Cb

How to Practice Naming the Sharps in Major Keys with Sharps

Move through the Key / Note Image list in the forward order.

1. See each Key / Note Image with the Number Images on top

2. Identify the name of the major key with sharps based on the image

(fin w/ sharp edge = F# Major)

3. Get the number of sharps using the first Number Image (sticks-6)

4. Name the notes that are sharp, using the Key / Note Image list in the forward order.

(fin-F#, car-C#, gear-G#, die-D#, arm-A#, ear-E#)

Do the above four steps for the entire Key / Note Image list in the forward order as shown below. However, do it from memory using the Key / Note Image list and the connected Number Images you memorized. Use the “Major Keys with Sharps Answers” list below to check your answers. Practice until it is easy. Keep visualizing the images in your mind as your practice.

fin - sticks     -   F# Major - 6 sharps -  F#, C#, G#, D#, A#, E#

car - sore van - C# Major - 7 sharps - F#, C#, G#, D#, A#, E#, B#

gear - bun    -    G Major - 1 sharp   -  F#

die - shoe     -    D Major - 2 sharps -  F#, C#

arm - tree     -    A Major - 3 sharps -  F#, C#, G#

ear - door     -    E Major - 4 sharps -  F#, C#, G#, D#

bike - fife      -    B Major - 5 sharps -  F#, C#, G#, D#, A#

How to Practice Naming the flats in Major Keys with Flats

Move through the Key / Note Image list in the backward order.

1. See each Key / Note Image with the Number Images on top

2. Identify the name of the major key with flats based on the key / note image

(bike - Bb Major)

3. Get the number of flats using the second Number Image (tube-2)

4. Name the notes that are flat, using the Key / Note Images in the backward order.

(bike-Bb, ear-Eb)

Do the above four steps for the entire Key / Note Image list in the backward order as shown below, but do it from memory using the Key / Note Image list and Number Image  associations you memorized. Use the “Major Keys with Flats Answers” list below to check your answers.

bike - tube     -   Bb Major - 2 flats - Bb, Eb

ear - tee         -  Eb Major - 3 flats - Bb, Eb, Ab

arm - fork       -  Ab Major - 4 flats - Bb, Eb, Ab, Db

die - hive        -  Db Major - 5 flats - Bb, Eb, Ab, Db, Gb

gear - socks   -  Gb Major - 6 flats - Bb, Eb, Ab, Db, Gb, Cb

car - sore van -  Cb Major - 7 flats - Bb, Eb, Ab, Db, Gb, Cb, Fb

fin - ton           -  F Major   - 1 flat  -  Bb

If you diligently keep working through the Key / Note Image list forward for sharps and backward for flats, naming the sharps and flats for all the Major keys, you will soon find that this becomes very easy. Once you can name the sharps and flats for every key, it is very easy to spell all the scales for the major and minor keys.

One Major Exception

The one major key left is C Major. It has zero sharps and zero flats. Use the Key / Note Image list to name sharps and flats for all major keys except C Major. C Major has zero sharps and zero flats and is the only major key not in the images. To remember this exception, see the “C” with a zero bursting out of the top.

Practice naming all sharps and flats for every key before doing the exercises.

Exercise 6-A: This is an essential mental exercise. Look at the key list below in exercise 6-B. For each major key, use the Key / Note Image list and Number Images to name the sharps or flats for that key. Do this twice before writing it down for exercise 6-B.

Exercise 6-B:

For each major key, think about what Key / Note Image starts with that key’s letter note name. Then recall the Number Images that are on top and extract the correct number for each key’s sharps or flats. Fill in the small blanks with the correct number of sharps or flats for each major key. Fill in the large blanks with the names of the sharps or flats for each major key. Scroll to the bottom of this page for the answers.

KEY           Number of                       Names of the sharps or flats

#s or bs

 1. G Major _______ ________________________________________________ 2. Bb Major _______ ________________________________________________ 3. A Major _______ ________________________________________________ 4. Gb Major _______ ________________________________________________ 5. D Major _______ ________________________________________________ 6. F Major _______ ________________________________________________ 7. F# Major _______ ________________________________________________ 8. Cb Major _______ ________________________________________________ 9. E Major _______ ________________________________________________ 10. Db Major _______ ________________________________________________ 11. B Major _______ ________________________________________________ 12. Eb Major _______ ________________________________________________ 13. C# Major _______ ________________________________________________ 14. Ab Major _______ ________________________________________________ 15. C Major _______ ________________________________________________

Do not proceed past this exercise until you can quickly state how many sharps or flats are in any major key and name the sharps or flats for that key. Continue to drill and use the Major Keys Answers lists on the previous two pages to check your answers. With relatively little practice, this is something you can remember for life that will allow you to easily spell the major and natural minor scales.

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Exercise 6-B: 1) 1, F#  2) 2, Bb Eb  3) 3, F# C# G#   4) 6, Bb Eb Ab Db Gb Cb

5) 2, F# C#  6) 1, Bb  7) 6, F# C# G# D# A# E#   8) 7, Bb Eb Ab Db Gb Cb Fb

9) 4, F# C# G# D#   10) 5, Bb Eb Ab Db Gb  11) 5, F# C# G# D# A#   12) 3, Bb Eb Ab

13) 7, F# C# G# D# A# E# B#  14) 4, Bb Eb Ab Db 15) 0