In Major Key Signatures and Major Scales Part 1, we learned the number of sharps or flats in each major key. The next thing we need to do is memorize the order in which sharps and flats occur.
The order in which sharps occur is F, C, G, D, A, E, B. Just say it over and over again till it’s memorized.
Now count on your fingers as you say it again. F, C, G, D, A, E, B. Obviously you’ll use 7 fingers as there are 7 sharps. Again, you want to say F, C, G, D, A, E, B over and over until it’s memorized.
Now you know the order in which sharps occur. Here’s what that means, and how you can apply that knowledge to major scales and major key signatures. If I say to you that a key or scale has 2 sharps in it, you just count on fingers 1 and 2. You get F and C. You now know that the sharps in that particular major scale or major key signature are F and C.
If I say that a scale has 4 sharps in it, you just count on your fingers again-F, C, G, D. The sharps in that scale are F, C, G, D. The sharps always occur in the same order. If there’s only 1 sharp, you just stop at F. If there’s only 2 sharps, you just stop at C, and so on.
The flats are the same but in reverse order. B, E, A, D, G, C, F. Say it over and over again, counting on 7 fingers. B, E, A, D, G, C, F. Do this until it’s completely memorized.
Now if say to you that we have a major scale or major key signature with two flats in it, you count on two fingers and you get B and E. If I tell you we have a scale with 5 flats in in, you count on your fingers up to five, and get B,E, A, D, G.
Now if you’ve really done your homework, you’re all set. You should have the number of sharps or flats in each major key signature and each major scale already memorized from Part 1. So if I say to you, “Key of D,” you know that it has 2 sharps in it. You just count on two fingers through the sharps. You get F#, C#.
If I say “Key of Ab,” you know that it has 4 flats in it because you’ve already memorized the number of flats in each key. Just go through the order of flats on your fingers, and you get B, E, A, D. So the key of Ab and the Ab major scale have a Bb, Eb, Ab, and Db in them.
This whole process probably seems pretty involved reading a description of it on paper. I promise you though, that if you actually start at the beginning, take it step by step, and actually do the exercises the way I described, this is the easiest and more effective way I know to learn you major key signatures and major scales.