Monday, May 10, 2010

Practice Concepts: Getting A Grasp On The 12 Keys

Feeling bogged down and overwhelmed with learning all of your scales, arpeggios, and modes in all 12 keys? Try this great practice idea I got from the great bassist, Putter Smith.

Practice scales and arpeggios at the pace of one key a week. I thought this was a brilliant idea as it takes a big subject and breaks it down into manageable parts. So, instead of trying to cram all of your major and minor scales, arpeggios, plus modes; in all 12 keys, into your daily practice, proceed weekly through the Circle of 4ths. (You can also use the Circle of 5ths if you prefer) So on Monday of you first week of practice, you start in the key of 'C', then the following Monday you move to 'F', 'Bb' after that, and so on... After 12 weeks, you are back at 'C'.

This way of practicing takes a longer time to unfold as you are on a 12-week cycle (You do get through all 12 keys at least 4 times a year); but remember, we're running a marathon here, not a sprint. The 'up' side is that in the long run, you end up with a more thorough understanding of all of the various keys. Also, you don't spend your entire practice time only working on mechanics and burn yourself out. This way of practicing allows you to make this daunting subject manageable so you can get on to other musical items like learning tunes, playing techniques, and whatnot.

Hope this helps!

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