Should I practice in every key?

Should I practice in every key?

The short answer is: yes! But only if you’re gunning to be a pro.

For the longer answer . . . keep reading!

Moving music from one key to another is called transposing. Guitar players can do it with a device called a capo, and singers often require it to match a tune to their vocal range, but does it matter for pianists? What benefit does a piano player get from transposing a song, chord progression, or even just a melody from one key to another? 

One way to understand the value of transposing is to use a sports analogy. Perhaps you’ve seen a baseball player practice with a weighted bat. Do you know why?

Ball players use heavy bats during practice so that on game-day, the regulation bat feels lighter, and they can hit the ball much harder with greater accuracy. 

It’s the same thing on the piano. Let me explain.

Let’s say you’re practicing Happy Birthday in the key of C. When you’re happy with how it sounds in C, you move it up a half-step to Db, which feels weird and different. The awkwardness of the new key is like the heavy bat—cumbersome and unnatural. Your fingers would much prefer to drop back down to the comfortable key of C. 

The first new key is the hardest part, but once you get through it, the heaviness of the bat will ease, and each additional key starts to feel easier. So much so that you’ll start to enjoy it.

When you transpose a tune, you’re doing several things at once. You’re training your harmonic ear, your melodic ear, and your muscle memory together. It’s not about playing something in EVERY key, but it’s about keeping your mind sharp so that you’re thinking about harmonic relationships, not just individual note names.

You may stumble through the first few keys, and that’s normal. As you continue to work through new keys, you notice your ear telling you when something is off. It’ll become second nature. When you get back to the original key, your sense of harmony will be deeper and more fluid. 

So no, you don’t need to practice in all 12 keys. But practicing in at least a few keys is HUGE for your playing. And once you get started, you may get addicted and keep on going. That’s why many of our courses at WePiano include play-alongs in multiple keys.

The best part is that when you go back to the original key of C, it will feel completely different. It’s light and easy and fluid, just like the game bat. 


This is how you go from a minor leaguer to a pro. 

To learn more about transposition I recommend picking a few keys from Key Signature Essentials while studying with Ted’s course The Number System. Try replicating a couple of simple four chord progressions across numerous keys. If you want to try something a little more soulful, take Major One & Minor Two and run it through all twelve keys!

That’s all for now!

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