Removing The Mystery From Playing In Every Key



A common problem that many musicians have is not being able to play in every key.  If you are a musician that plays well in some keys but avoid other keys like the plaque, then this information may help you.

Allow me to give you some tips for overcoming the problem of not being able to play in every key.



Make the mental adjustment that there is no such thing as a “HARD KEY TO PLAY IN”.  Some people would consider the key of E natural to be a hard key to play in while Eb is an easy key to play in. The truth is that there aren’t any “HARD” keys to play in, but rather “UNFAMILIAR” keys.

Unfamiliar keys are the keys that we don’t spend much time working on or perfecting. Just think about it. If there are certain keys that you “ALWAYS” avoid, how will you ever learn to play in it. The reason why many musicians are comfortable in certain keys is because they spend more time playing in those keys.

The “TRUTH” is, if you can play well in 4 or 5 keys, then you can play well in “ANY” key if you spend the proper amount of time working on it.  So there are not any “HARD” keys to play in, just “UNFAMILIAR” keys.  The good news is that an “UNFAMILIAR” key can quickly become a “FAMILIAR” key with practice.



Practicing effectively is vital to overcoming the problem of not being able to play in every key.

One thing to do is start to practice in all 12 keys.  A simple thing to do as an exercise is to take a basic song like “Amazing Grace” and play it in C major. Then play the same song in Db and then play it in D major and so on moving up in half steps until you play it in every key. This is a simple way to get started at tackling this problem.

You can practice basic songs in every key, but you also can practice chord progressions and certain licks in every key as well.  The 2 – 5 – 1 progression is a very good progression to practice in every key as well as the 3 – 6 -2 -5 -1 progression.

These progressions are very common in the music that we hear daily and if we are comfortable with playing these progressions in every key, it will make learning and playing songs easier.

Practicing in the CIRCLE of 4ths or the CIRCLE of 5ths is a great way to practice as well. This will ensure that you practice each key evenly and not favoring one key over the other. The result will be that you will be equally strong in all of the keys because you are giving them all the same amount of time and attention.


The Circle of 4ths is a pattern of Perfect 4th intervals.  Here is the Circle of 4ths

C -F -Bb -Eb -Ab -Db -Gb -B -E -A -D -G

The Circle of 5ths is a pattern of Perfect 5th intervals. Here is the Circle of 5ths

C -G -D -A -E -B -F# -C# -G# -D# -A# -E# or (F)

You  can practice runs, licks, progressions, songs etc. using the Circle of 4ths or the Circle of 5ths to ensure you are practicing evenly.

If you make a habit of approaching your practice time this way, you will soon overcome the problem of not being able to play in every key.



Musicians that understand that music is mathematical have far less trouble in playing in every key.

In mathematics 2 + 2 always equals 4. In mathematics 3 x 3 always equals 9. It is just basic mathematics.

Music is very similar to this. Say for example, that a song consists of a chord progression of a 1 chord moving to a 4 chord then moving to a 5 chord and finally back to a 1 chord. If you understand the number system, then it is just a matter of doing the math.

The foundation of the number system is knowing  all 12 Major Scales with the corresponding scale number to each note of the major scale.

For example the C major scale consists of the notes C D E F G A B C

Since the note C is the first note of the scale, we will call it number 1 or the 1st. Since the note D is the second note of the scale we will call it number 2 or the 2nd.  We keep moving this way until every note of the scale has a number.  Therefore, C =1  D=2  E=3  F=4  G=5  A=6  B= 7.

Every major scale works the exact same way.  For example, the G major scale would consist of the notes G A B C D E F#. Therefore, G =1  A=2  B=3  C=4  D=5  E=6  F#=7


If we where to play the aforementioned progression in the key of C major it would be the following:

1 Chord = C major      4 Chord = F major     5 Chord = G major      1 Chord = C major

So therefore the progression would be Cmaj  Fmaj  Gmaj  Cmaj

Now if we want to play it in the key of G we would use the same numbers to figure the correct chords.

1 Chord = G major         4 Chord = C major        5  Chord = D major         1 Chord = G major

So therefore in the key of G the progression would be Gmaj  Cmaj  Dmaj  Gmaj

This is in a nutshell how you can use the number system to play in every key. Of course using the number system can get much deeper but this is the basic idea behind it.

You can actually get to the place where you can play in every key easily.  With a few adjustments you can be well on your way.

If you would really like to overcome the problem of not being able to play in every key, I recommend downloading my video “Learn To Play In All 12 Keys”. It will liberate you from having to guess or use software to play in every key because you will be able to do the math in your head in seconds. This is a very valuable video for the musician that wants to overcome this common problem. You will learn my unique system for how to play all of the fundamental chords from each chord group easily and quickly. You will learn how to apply the number system and receive real examples of how to do it.

Enjoy and just “Say No” to the transpose button.