Success In All Keys- an innovative approach to learning key signatures

Year after year I encounter than same issue with my private students, their total inability to read in flat keys. It's is the single biggest source of frustration that I have in my teaching practice. I seriously want to strangle some of these kids when over and over again they forget what a Gb or even an Eb is. Some of them can't even cope with the key of F. I'm sometimes amazed at myself for keeping my cool when these usually smart kids they exhibit such serious (but selective) signs of profound mental retardation. This aversion to flats is something that I've come to see as a phobia or even a brain disorder, something like color blindness. It could be called flat deficiency.

 Part of the problem is that these kids have no early experience playing in keys with a lot of flats (or even a lot of sharps) because early band method books and orchestrations almost entirely avoid the more challenging keys. One of my students the other day explained that the reason for this was that if his middle school band attempted to play a piece of music in the key of concert Gb it would be a complete train wreck from the first note. Band directors may have inherent masochistic tendencies, but they do want to their bands to sound good at concert time and easy keys are the best way to do this.

 When a student of mine has tested my patience past the point of no return by missing a particular Bb twenty times in a row or repeatedly asks how to finger a Gb I break out a book called Success In All Keys by Eric Allen. This book is my revenge. Bwahahahaha!!!  (sinister laugh)

In all seriousness, Success In All Keys is the best way that I've found to help my students play in unfamiliar key signatures.
Here is how the author describes his book:
Proficiency in all keys is an important musical skill. However, traditional etude and method books often combine difficult key signatures with a variety of other challenges such as advanced rhythms, extremes in range, accidentals and ornamentation. Many students become overwhelmed and discouraged by this complexity and struggle to make progress.

In Success In All Keys, the rhythms are simple, ranges are moderate and there are no accidentals or ornaments.  With a singular focus on key signatures, learning to play in all keys becomes achievable, not intimidating.

Every key includes two pages of famous excerpts and an original All Keys Etude.  Keys with three or more sharps or flats also feature three additional original etudes, which are different for each key. Enharmonic transpositions of all of the materials in the keys of C#, Db, F# and Gb are included for further in-depth study.

Success In All Keys is the most comprehensive, practical collection of music dedicated to this subject. Until now, repetition of scales and patterns has been the default approach to playing in all keys.  With this book, students can now practice in all keys by playing melodies, which they are sure to find more fun and effective than exercises.


* 81 pages of music
* Rhythms are simple, ranges are moderate and there are no accidentals or ornaments.  The key signature is the only challenge presented.
* For every key with 3 or more sharps/flats, there are 3 original etudes, which are different for each key.
* Every key also features an original etude transposed to all keys and two pages of famous excerpts.
* Enharmonic transpositions of all materials in the keys of C#, Db, F# and Gb are included for further in-depth study.
* The first book of its kind and the most comprehensive, practical collection of music dedicated to playing in all keys.


* With a singular focus on key signatures, learning to play in all keys becomes achievable, not intimidating
* Students will enjoy playing etudes and excerpts in all keys much more than repetition of scales and patterns.  Therefore, they are likely to practice more and make more progress in this area.
* An excellent addition to private lessons, either as weekly assignments or sight-reading.
* With so much music included, students will have the opportunity to become very comfortable playing in all keys.
* Available for all band and orchestra instruments. The more students that use this book, the less time spent in rehearsals correcting key signature mistakes.
* An excellent source of melodies for advanced students working on transposition.
Q: What is the recommended age group/skill level for Success In All Keys?

A: Starting with advanced junior high students, virtually any age group can benefit from Success In All Keys. Younger students will benefit by being exposed to all keys in our unique format and will quickly be encouraged by the results.  Even the most advanced players can utilize the materials in Success In All Keys to work on orchestral transposition skills.  And, of course, there are benefits for every skill level in between.  Please see our features & benefits page for a more complete list.

Q: Are these books an ensemble method or individual study?

A: Success In All Keys and Low Range Studies are both individual study books.

Q: How does downloading a pdf copy of the book work?

A: Once you purchase a pdf copy of a book, you will receive an email with a link that will begin your download.

Q: Is there a discount for ordering multiple books?

A: If your music program or store is interested in purchasing 20 or more books, please contact us for special pricing.

Q: What are the difference between the electric bass and double bass versions of Success In All Keys?

A: The music is the same in both books.  The double bass version includes articulations and markings such as fingerings, bowings, etc.  The electric bass version is “notes only.”   Please download the free samples in the products page to compare.

Q: What is the difference between the bass trombone and trombone version of Success In All Keys?

A: The bass trombone book has been adapted to utilize the notes that can be played by bass trombone, but not by a regular tenor trombone without an F attachment.

Order Success In All Keys 
Sample pages from Success In All Keys


Me Me said...

Love the intro to this review!

Stefan Kac said...

If it makes you feel any better, brass students are the exact same way with sharps.

If I were a band teacher, I would start investing in C tubas, C trumpets, C melody saxophones, and whatever other C instruments I could find. It would be immeasurably easier to start there with kids than to have half of them permanently confused about key signatures and concert pitch.