Is it bad practice to transpose tunes down for your register?

I've been going through a fake book and learning the melodies to jazz tunes I like. A lot of them are in registers that I cannot hit (I still can barely hit a high C). I've been transposing to anything between Low G and C depending on how low the tune goes.

2 Answers 2


You say you're learning the tunes. This in itself has good and bad sides. When you're sightreading a tune initially, and transposing at sight, it's a great skill to practise. However, once you've learned that tune, you will know it in the 'wrong' key - as in others later will want to play it with you, but they'll most likely be in the original key.

However, all the time you're doing this, it's making you play better, and read and transpose better, so it's no bad thing right now. Then, when your range improves, you'll be able to read at sight, transpose at sight, and play the tunes in the key the rest of the guys prefer. Keep it up!


I am not a trumpeter but it is hard to see a problem; it's still practice. If you improve, you can always come back and try again as written. Transposing to make things easier is common in music for learners. For example, on the piano the register is not an issue but pieces are often transposed to C just to make them easier for beginners to read.

  • True. All beginner piano books do C F and G because they're "easier keys". I guess my problem is that I have to read a piece written in one key and think about it in a way different key which I think is bad for sight reading. When I see an F, I should think F on the trumpet Commented May 19, 2017 at 18:28
  • If you play a transposing instrument then learning to transpose on sight is a useful skill. I play clarinet (Bb) and saxophone (Bb and Eb) and have got used to this. In your case, you are trading ease of reading for ease of playing. Later, if you want to play a piece not written for the trumpet (with other instruments), you will need this skill.
    – badjohn
    Commented May 19, 2017 at 18:33

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