“If I miss one day of practice, I notice it. If I miss two days, the critics notice it. If I miss three days, the audience notices it.”
―Ignacy Jan Paderewski
There are two things that go into effective practice in music, consistency and variety.
It is important for every musician to practice daily. Even 10 minutes a day is enough, as long as you do it daily. In fact, most of the best musicians we know, such as Steve Krenz, practice for about 30 minutes a day. Because after a certain point you don’t concentrate as much, so you’re probably better off doing something else. But that’s as far as consistency goes.
The other thing, and this is what most musicians ignore, is variety. You need to fine tune the things that you’re good at. But it is also very important to try out new skills. And perhaps the most important thing, as far as variety goes, is the key.
Quite often, as a musician, you will find yourselves jamming with other musicians. At the very least, you might need to play an instrument while someone else is singing. In such situations, one thing you don’t want to do is to keep telling the singer to change the key to something you’re comfortable with. You might find that the key you want them to use is uncomfortable for them, and that spoils the whole song. If you sing, you may have been disappointed once or twice when you’ve been forced to sing very low or very high notes because you can’t play in the key that you’d be most comfortable in. Now for keyboardists this may not be much of an issue because of the handy “transpose” button. Amateur guitarists may also have some room to move around even if you can only play in two keys, as long as you have a capo. But if you want to move beyond the finger patterns and understand what you’re playing, you’re going to have to learn the other keys too. This is what Random Key is for.
Now to the Tutorial
There are two rectangles in the main screen. The first one has the key and its signature. The second one shows its relative major or minor. By clicking on the musical note icon on the top menu, you can toggle between major and minor keys.
The green button is for picking another random key. The general idea is to go through all the keys at random, one a day. Pick a key, then try to play all the songs you feel like playing that day in that key. So you press the green button, get a random key, lock it using the lock icon at the top of the screen, and get down to playing.
However, playing a new key all day can be a bit strenuous, especially when you’re starting out. So, start with familiar keys, probably C or G. Focus on these. Then, as you move along, Pick another key and play in it a few songs. When you begin to get bored, switch back to your familiar keys and let out your inner miniature Chet Atkins, Jimi Hendrix, Carlos Santana, Mark Tremonti (the Creed lead guitarist) or whoever it is that you have inside you (even Spongebob has his moments). If you do this, you will not only learn, but you will also enjoy yourself. Because, ultimately, the main reason why we play instruments is to enjoy ourselves.
Finally, the musical note icon is for toggling between major and minor keys.
Now, if you have no idea what “key” is, or why C or G are the most popular keys, don’t worry. In this blog, I’m starting out music theory at the absolute basics. So you’ll soon be an expert at this sort of thing.