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Lesson 3: Scale Exercises


Practice Techniques


These exercises will specifically refer to the major scale forms in the Major Scale Patterns lesson. However, once you grasp these concepts they make excellent exercises for all scales and arpeggios that you ever learn. Have fun...



1. If you have a metronome set it to an extremely slow tempo and play each form ascending and descending for at least 5 minutes each. Make sure that you play them slow enough as to not make any mistakes! If you find that you are making many mistakes Slow Down! When you are playing through these forms, move the forms around. One easy thing to do is to just move up by half-steps each time you run a form. When you get to the top of the fretboard, just move back down again in the same fashion. It is extremely important to play these forms in more than one position. Doing so will help you memorize the form and not just how it relates to certain frets or positions.


2. Once you have a pretty good handle on each scale fingering on their own, begin to connect them (form 1 to form 2, form 2 to form 3, etc...). Just work with a couple forms at a time. Make sure that you get the connection solid in your hand and mind before you add the next form.


3. Eventually, when you have all of the scale forms connected, run the whole scale from form 1 up to form 8, and then back down again. Do this over and over again. It will not only help you memorize the fingerings, but this is also great exercise for your fingers!


4. Once you have a solid grasp of this scale in the key of G, figure out how you would be able to move this to a different key. Try doing this in the key of C now. You've already established where the tonics were in these fingerings. Now play the fingerings so that the tonic notes fall on C. For example: in form 1 in the key of G the first tonic (G) was the second note of that form. Now find the C on the 6th string and move form 1 up so that the C is the second note (the tonic) in that form. Do this with each of the forms, locating them in C. Once you have accomplished this, connect the forms together like you did for the key of G.


5. After you are secure with these major scale fingerings in the key of C, move on to the key of F. Then proceed to these other keys: B E A D G B E A D


6. Now, instead of just playing the scales in ascending and descending order, set your metronome once again to an extremely slow tempo. Start with the key of G and just play random quarter notes for as long as you can stand it. Increase the tempo as your skill permits, but don't try to rush through this stuff (this is where you get your strong playing foundation from, not to mention great finger and hand exercise). When you get tired of G, move on to C and so on. The main thing is to make sure you have a solid grasp of where the notes are in all major scales.


7. Next, instead of just playing random notes, start making up melodies. At the slow tempo start playing melodies - musical ideas that sound good to you, or maybe things you've heard other players do. Take this through all the keys.


8. Finally, playing melodic ideas at the slow tempo, set up a practice format like this: 4 bars in the key of G, 4 bars in the key of C, 4 bars in the key of F, 4 bars in the key of B, etc... Once again, increase the tempos as you feel comfortable with the material.


Final Note: Using these techniques over and over again will strengthen your musical abilities in several areas:

increase hand and finger dexterity,

build right and left hand coordination,

record in your mind correct fingerings,

develop ability to hear intervals more easily and automatically,

and last but not least, make for fantastic warm up exercises that you can use for the rest of your life!















Copyright 2001 T.A. Vieira, Jr.
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