Friday, April 18, 2014

How to play on all keys

Playing on all keys is one very important aspect in piano playing and I do get lots of questions about this topic. The questions are usually in the form of the example below and if you have one of these questions in mind, this post might just give you a good clue as to how you can start playing on all keys

QUESTIONS

  • How can I improve on all keys
  • How do I learn all keys
  • What is the best way to learn all keys
  • I know all my chords in a particular key; how can I get the same chords on the other keys
  • How long does it take to learn all the 12 keys
  • Which key is the hardest?
  • etc
Playing on all keys is really easy and straight forward. 
I used to play only one key very fluently till I discovered that I had to step up my game by learning all keys. It took me approximately one year to become fluent on all the keys. I was already between the intermediate and professional level before I started learning all the other keys aside C.

To start playing on all keys, please follow the steps below. It's as easy as just following some simple steps. However, you should note that in as much as you could follow some easy steps, you still need to be dedicated to the task of learning all the keys and be very consistent and focused while you are at it.
Another point is that, you should not think that you will get there so fast; it takes time to get used to playing all the keys if you have been used to playing just one or a few of them
  • Start by running the major scale on all the keys everyday till you are very fluent at doing that. This might take a few weeks or even a few months but exercise some patience while you are at it. By running the scale on all the keys, I mean running the scales at a reasonable speed comfortably
  • Know all your notes on your most comfortable key as numbers. Also know all your chords as a combination of notes. This means that if I ask you "what are the notes that make up the chord F major 7th?" you should be able to quickly tell me that "it is F A C E"
  • Start playing the songs you like to play on the new keys
  • Tackle a key for a given period of time and try to practice the keys almost equally
  • Practice about 3 keys in a week but choose one to tackle on a Sunday service
  • Use the transpose feature of your church keyboard to transpose easy songs to the first key you need to master and then repeat the same process for other keys on the other Sundays
  • Try to do more than one key on a Sunday morning as you improve
  • Use the transpose feature of your keyboard to practice a single song on all the keys
  • When you start getting comfortable with the keys, then discipline yourself to never use the transpose feature again even your playing sounds terrible. It will bring pressure which is part of the learning process and helps to build you up
That's it!
Let me now explain further on some of the points above
Running the major scale: Running the major scale makes you familiar with the new keys. Knowing the tonic solfas and being able to strike the accurately every time is the key to understanding that new key and transferring your chords from your favorite key to the new key

Knowing your notes as numbers: For example, on the key of C, the numbers are: 
C - 1, D - 2, E - 3, F - 4, G - 5, A - 6, B - 7
Simply put; knowing your notes as numbers means that by the time you start becoming familiar with the new keys, you play the notes as numbers in your head and not as black and white keys on the keyboard. This makes all the keys on the keyboard become as one to you so that you get to that stage that you might be playing a key and you don't even know the key it is unless you pause to check. And if you learn to break chords into notes then you can make your favorite key a point of reference if you ever get stuck so that you can go to it, check the chord, grab the tonic solfas of the chord, and go back to the new key and put tonic solfas in very quickly.

Playing YOUR favorite Songs in all Keys

This is a key aspect of grasping the mastery of playing all keys. Why? It is easy to master your favorite songs because you know them so well and this means that you will not be thinking hard while doing your transitions. Hopefully, they are the songs you do in church on a regular basis. This will accelerate the learning process.

Using the transpose feature of your keyboard to your advantage

You might have been using the transpose feature to playing on just a single key. Now use it to your advantage. You simply learn a song, (You can try these songs; they are pretty simple and good for practice) Then transpose your keyboard to play the song on all the keys. This really helps. Trust me!

In conclusion, there are numerous benefits to playing all keys. It helps your soloing, boosts your confidence, boosts your creativity. That's to mention but a few, the advantages are endless. So, the time to start is now.

PS: If you are beginner-intermediate and you want to learn some popular songs easily, you can download this tutorial: Intermediate Lessons Introduction pt. 2

Or simply get the lessons by clicking the button below