Pick a Key!

There were several people that responded to a previous post that I posted a while back. The subject of the post was Music is Mathematical. I decided to expound on the subject a little more. If you have any of my training videos you know that I advocate learning all 12 of your major scales fluently. The reason I advocate them so strongly is because knowing the scales can really open up some great possibilities for you.

I will give you an example of one way of many that it can help you. Recently, I was asked to play for a funeral of a young man that passed away. I agreed to play for it but there was no rehearsal for the musical selections in the funeral.  Unfortunately, we had to wing it. I was told what songs were going to be sung but I didn’t know how the singers wanted to do the songs nor did I know what key they wanted to sing the songs in.

This is the problem. I could have easily learned to play the songs in the original keys but what if the original keys were either to high or low for the singers. Musicians have to be flexible. If the song has notes in it that are too high for the singer to hit then you might have to lower the key of the song to something that is more comfortable. If you play for a church or ministries you may have to do things like that and if you don’t you still should know how to.

I knew that we would not  have a rehearsal so I decided to chart the songs using the number system. The way that I do it is, I write down what number or scale degree the particular chord falls on and then I write beside it what type of chord it is (major, minor, suspended, etc.)

Please excuse my chicken scratch but it works for me. lol

Approaching it like this will make the key of the song not even matter. However, you must know all 12 major scales with the  corresponding scale degree or number that goes to each note of the scale.  For example the F major scale is F -G-A-Bb-C-D-E

  • F is the first note of the scale so F is number 1.
  • D is the sixth note of the scale so D is number 6
  • G is the second note of the scale so G is number 2

When you know all 12 major scales and what number goes to each note in each scale then you can easily do this.

If you are playing a particular song in the key of F and the chord progression in the song is Fmaj –   Dmin7 –  G7  – Csus7

You can now plug in the numbers for each chord. It would be this.

(1)maj – (6)min7-(2)7- (5)sus7

Now you can take the numbered chords and apply that to ANY key that you want, IF you know all of your major scales and know your basic chords. Check of this video of an easy way to play your basic chords in every key. This video comes from the Learn To Play In All 12 Keys DVD Course.

Like I mentioned earlier I played for a funeral of a young man that passed away. There where hundreds and hundreds of people there. I didn’t want the musical selections to be a flop so I did what I needed to do to adjust to the singers and not the singers having to adjust to me.

Everything went over very well but I attribute it to knowing my scales and chords and having the knowledge of applying the number system to my playing.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this or hear any questions that you might have. Also, if you have found this post to be helpful then share it with a friend via facbook, twitter or email. Thanks





  1. Just the answer I was looking for sir. Thanks for your genuine dedication and commitment to teach from your heart and not your wallet!