An Exercise for playing in all 12-keys

Hey violin friends! Here’s an exercise that can help with a very important skill that can be one of the main things that can really help take your playing up to the next level, enable you to perform with different kinds of musicians, and discover new ways to express your musical voice confidently – the ability to play in tune in all 12 keys.

Here’s how it works:

I start in the key of C (every note is in a “natural position” or the white keys of a piano). I play a 1-octave scale up and down (from the C that’s a 3 to a low 2 on A), then I arpeggiate (play a major or minor chord) by playing 3rds (skipping one note) in C – which creates a C major chord. Then I walk up one note of the scale (to D), and go up 3rd again, which happens to create a D minor.  I keep doing this to create new chords – 5 times until I get up to G. 

At that point – hey! “G major” is the key I created by adding 1 sharp to the key signature. So I do the same thing in G, which gets me up to D – and so forth – learning all the “sharp keys” by moving up 5th.

Finally, I get to the hellish key of F# – and then I go down a half-step to F-natural, which is the key with one flat in it.  So I do the same thing, going up the “flat keys” – with just one difference. Instead of moving up 5 notes, I only have to move up 4 before I play the chord that matches the next scale.

Here’s what that looks like on the page.

And here’s what it looks and sounds like:

Happy practicing!


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