Practice with the Circle of Fifths

I was pleased to receive this very informative article on the Circle of Fifths from Willie Myette. I feel it's a very important resource for all musicians to use. In fact,
I call it "the musician's bible" and incorporate it in my piano student's lessons. I have posted the entire article here:

The Circle of Fifths (part 1)

by Willie on September 17, 2009

"The circle of fifths is a fantastic practice tool. It can help you practice scales more effectively, learn key signatures and even learn basic and advanced harmonization techniques.

In this article, I am going to show you some circle of fifths “tricks” that will help you maximize your practice.

What is the Circle of Fifths?

The circle of fifths is all 12 keys of music written on a wheel or “circle”. The keys are divided into intervals of a fifth. Looking at the circle of fifths below, you’ll notice that at the top is ‘C’ and moving clockwise, we move through all twelve keys by intervals of a fifth. So we start with C, then go to G, D, E, A, B, F# (or Gb…same note), Db, Ab, Eb, Bb, F and end back at C.

If you go counter-clockwise (to the left) we move through all twelve keys by fourths. Starting with C, we move a fourth to F, Bb, Eb and so on.

How to incorporate the Circle of Fifths into your practice routine

Perhaps the easiest way to use the circle of fifths is to use it as a scale practice tool. Let me explain…

When practicing scales (Major, minor, etc…) I often see students get very good at playing their scales in easy keys like the key of C, F or G. However, when it comes to more challenging keys like Gb, Ab, etc., students become a bit “shy”. This is usually because they have practiced a lot in the easy keys but not as much in the difficult keys.

Many times, this imbalance of scale practice is because students sit down, practice three or four scales then move on to something else. The next day, they sit down, start with the same scales and never end up practicing those more difficult keys.

You can break this pattern by using the circle of fifths. Download and print the circle, then while practicing, mark which of the keys you practiced. For example, circle the keys you practice on day 1, put a triangle around those you practice on day 2, a box around the scales practiced on day 3 and so on.

Using this method, you can be sure that you get through all keys both easy and difficult."

Check out Circle of Fifths for more information:

All the best,
~ LadyD

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