“How do I get to be a faster player?” This is a common student question. In reply, I tell them I may not be the fastest player around but my mind is VERY nimble. I have practiced in all 12 keys, I can spell chords easily. I know my chord scales, formulas, arpeggios, key signatures, etc., and my ears are well-trained. Like a well-written computer program, my mind can negotiate fast changing chord progressions and react quickly to fellow improvisers in the band. This is a kind of speed that is so valuable and often overlooked. Sure, practice finger exercises and scales too, but make sure you have programmed your own “computer” and minimized “bugs” by practicing musical ideas through all twelve keys.

To help students with the programming task, I have them write out theory ideas and important chord progressions in all 12 keys. Here are a few worksheets with explanations I have created for my students to that end. Help yourself! (More to come…)