today i attempted to explain the concept of keys to a student of mine, and i could not think of a good way to explain this concept. any ideas?
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randy halberstadt uses a "solar system" analogy, i don't remember all of the specifics, but basically it was like, the key is the solar system, the sun is i, the planets are ii,iii,iv,v,vi and vii, the moons are the chords that function relative to the "planets," like ii-7b5 of ii, v7 of ii, etc. when i took his jazz theory class in college, this is the analogy that made it sink in for me. i think there is a section of his book, metaphors for the musician, that does a better job of showing the analogy. i used to have a hand-out from his class that actually mapped out all the possible chords relative to a key in functional harmony as if they were a solar system, that might be in the book also.
what do you mean "the concept of keys"?
most people have heard a major scale enough that they can recognize how it should sound (obviously not all people can)  i have them play a c major scale to "remind" them of how it should sound.  i then have them play either a g or f scale and listen for the "wrong notes" - believe it or not, most people can tell which notes are wrong and actually make the necessary adjustments. (f# or bb) some need a little help, but usually recognize it when shown the correction.   you can then play some familiar melodies in a few different keys to demonstrate.

~usually works for me:)
jwv76- yes, i have read randy's solar metaphor and i am fortunate enough to be taking lessons from him currently.

and jazz+, by that i mean explaining to a student what it means for a tune to be in the key of f or bb or whatever. now that i think about it though, keys really only come into existence in written music, as a way of simplifying the music by reducing accidentals.

the majority of tunes noodle around in the same set of six or seven notes for most of the song, and take the chord formations inherent in said scale (or mode) and mix them around (usually - but not always - in some circle of fourths or fifths motion).
you're teaching, and you can't explain keys???
i'm sorry, that was snarky of me...
i'm 16 and i started teaching a few months ago
i'm still trying to figure this whole teaching thing out...
just like learning to play, learning to teach is a never ending pursuit.  i started teaching when i was 15.  i quit for several years to play fulltime, now i'm  47 and teaching full time.  one of the reasons i come here is to pick up on new concepts and teaching ideas.  my hat's off to ya jazz guy :)
take a second to read this:

the way i understand it, thats why 4th and 5th are called perfect.
okay, okay, i got my first student when i was 14, so i guess i can remember how it was.
that line) that intervals of both a fourth and a fifth (either above or below a given fundamental note) are completely consonant with said fundamental.


"a" 220 is consonant with "e" 330 (this interval is known as a perfect fifth).

"e" 330 is also consonant with "a" 440 (this interval is known as a perfect fourth).

the origins of the minor pentatonic and the major scale are simply extensions of these basic laws of physics.
that line is wonderfully condescending (but not you of course) :) <= hate these things - i should be able to write better!
i explain to my students that keys are a lot like women.  you have to try different ones to find the one that will give you the right feeling for a particular thing you are looking for.
7, i love it when you talk 'posh and legal-like'. re "consequently, it is intuitively obvious to any casual observer (i love that line) that intervals of both a fourth and a fifth (either above or below a given fundamental note) are completely consonant with said fundamental".,

and mike re your comment immediately above, that statement is definitely true of music teachers.
- you have to shop around and 'cherry-pick'.
:-)  a fun-loving (nearby) liverpudlian.
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