There is something special about the number twelve. Our calendar is divided into twelve months, our clock is divided into two twelve hour segments, and our tonal system is divided into twelve tones. Toward the end of 2014 I spent twelve weeks focusing on a key each week. One of my goals for 2015 was to spend each month deeply focused on a single key. I managed to do this through April but eventually let it slip out of my practice routine. Part of the reason I didn’t stick with it was the lack of accountability. That is why I am posting this here- to state my objective to the world in hopes of following through. I will create blog posts throughout the year to document the types of things I have practiced in my study of keys.

I invite you to join me in this study. It is applicable to a beginning student just learning the keys as well as to an advanced player reviewing simple material and really diving in depth to the study of keys.


Any schedule imaginable will work. This is simply the schedule that I plan on following. I start with the key of C and work through the circle of fourths (flat keys) until July. In August there is a switch to the sharp keys and working through the circle of fifths until the end of the year.

January- C

February- F

March- B flat

April- E flat

May- A flat

June- D flat

July- G flat

August- G

September- D

October- A

November- E

December- B

Here are some practice ideas for each key:

Some of these concepts are guitar specific but could be applied to any instrument.

  • Study major scale in all positions and up and down single strings. Play them with each note as the root or bass note to practice each mode.
  • Study harmony for each key all over the neck. Triads, 7th chords, 9th chords, substitutions, etc. Play as chords and arpeggios in all positions.
  • Study different types of scales with the key of the month acting as the root. Example: C major scale, C minor pentatonic, C major pentatonic, C blues scales, C melodic minor, C harmonic minor, C harmonic major, C half-whole diminished, C whole-half diminished, C augmented scale, etc.
  • Make a list of songs you already know in the key of the month. Study these songs in depth.
  • Try playing songs you know in another key in the key of the month. Transposition studies are incredibly helpful in mastering a tune.


Will you join me in this study? What other ways can you think of to practice this material? Please leave comments below.