It would be negligent of us to leave out the blues scale. This is because this scale is widely used in the rock genre for solos, but it is much more versatile than this, being used prominently in Country, Jazz and of course Blues music. Chances are when you listen to a guitar solo, the guitarist is playing blues licks and piano players can use the same progression in their solos.
The step for a blues scale is:
W+H, W, H, H, W+H, W
Where W = whole step and H = half step.
Thus in the key of C, the notes are: C, Eb, F, F#, G, Bb, C.
This is also a great scale for practicing your fingering. You would typically place your thumb on C, 2nd finger on Eb, 3rd on F, 4th on F# and then roll your 1st finger (thumb) underneath your 4th which serves as an anchor to play G and then Bb with your 2nd and so on if you wish to keep playing up the keyboard. To go down the keyboard, play Bb with your 2nd, G with your thumb which serves as an anchor in this direction, then play F# with your 2nd finger, thumb on F, 2nd finger on Eb and thumb on C.
This is not the only way you do blues scale fingering, but it is one way to works for some.
You do not need to play in a blues band to benefit from playing blues piano chords and scales. There are scores of songs that have a bluesy sound and feel to them. It is worth practicing this scale in every key – for each key, you simply follow the pattern described above, but it might take some practice to get the pattern perfect in certain keys. Perhaps the best way to practice your blues scales is to find a bluesy track to serve as backing music and then practice your scales to the music. You could even write and record your own chord progression to practice with, in fact it would be a great exercise to practice both your chords and improvisation in one go.
Older styles of music utilize blues progressions and scales more so than music does today. There are plenty of 50’s,60’s,70’s and even 80’s music that are influence by bluesy music, scales and chords, or you can go back directly to the roots and seek out blues music itself to play or improvise against. The blues is a lot of fun and sounds good too! Finding a good blues pianist who plays solos and improvises a lot is an excellent way to discover the limits to which the piano can be stretched in this genre.