Right now I'm looping the changes to autumn leaves and practicing playing different chords/intervals over the changes.

So for example I'll just play the 7th of every chord or I'll play the 3rd and the seventh in a double stop.

I've been told I should try to learn songs in different keys but I'm still struggling doing this in the original key.

Would it be counter intuitive to try it in a different key before I have a firm grasp of it in the original key or do you think trying it in another key would actually help more by growing my vocabulary so to speak.


Generally, it's good to practice everything everywhere. This helps you get to know the instrument you're playing better (this doesn't apply only to guitar) and helps you learn how to transpose the songs.

But, if you still cannot play a song in a certain key, there isn't much point in transposing it. It might help if you transposed it into something that had easier chords for the guitar, but this might not be easy in all the songs.

I would advise to transpose a song when you can play it fluently. What I mean is that you should be able to:

  • Play the chords
  • Play the melody
  • Accompany someone else that is soloing
  • Be able to solo yourself

When you are able to do all of the above, you should try to transpose. In Jazz, you're going to need all of the above (or most of them) in every song. So, if you cannot play them in a key, there isn't much point in trying to learn the song in another one.

In conclusion, I don't think it's counter productive to practice it in a different key before you have mastered it, but I don't think you'll get the most of it.

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  • The importance of playing everything in every key is also mentioned in MArk Levine's Jazz Theory Book – Shevliaskovic Jun 20 '15 at 20:22

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