Simple Keyz - The Number System

The Number System

We’re going to cover one of the essential keys to master the art of playing music by ear. 

It’s called the number system — it’s a simple, but VERY powerful concept.


The idea behind it is simply to assign a number to each tone of the Major scale.

If you already know your Major scales, this lesson will be a breeze. If you're just starting out, you can check out our cheat sheet to instantly learn them all. 

To start this off we'll begin with the C Major Scale.


All we're doing is simply numbering each tone of the scale.

C = 1

D = 2

E = 3

F = 4

G = 5

A = 6

B = 7

C = 8 (or 1) because the scale repeats.

This is the number system in action. 

Let’s try this in the key of F Major. 



F = 1

G = 2

A = 3

Bb = 4

C = 5

D = 6

E = 7

F = 8 (or 1) because the scale repeats.

That’s all there is to it. We’re simply numbering each tone of the scale.

You'll want to know this system in ALL 12 keys. 

So why is this important? 

When we begin to work on progressions in future lessons you'll hear terms like, “7-3-6” or “2-5-1” or “5-1-4” — guess where these numbers come from? 

That’s right, straight from the scale!

You’ll be surprised to know that the true language of music is NUMBERS!


This is how professional musicians communicate with each other when playing songs. 

The good news is, they’re only 7 numbers to memorize so is not hard at all. This becomes second nature as you practice your scales everyday.  


Now how do you become good at this?

Well, they say repetition is the mother of skill. You’ll have to put in some time with this, but I guarantee you that it will be worth it. 

As you go through your scales, you want to think in NUMBERSnot chords or note names.


Professional musicians think about movements in music going from the 4th to the 6th tone or from the 1st to the 5th tone and so on — they think in numbers.


So just this diamond of information will skyrocket your understanding of music. 

I'm big on helping you learn and understand the fundamentals of music because I know it will open doors to your true potential.

Knowing your scales and number system is the first key to unlock the doors to unlimited musical expression.

If you want to learn more about this, it's covered in our guide to the Fundamentals. 

Until next time!



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