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#2864352 - 07/04/17 09:31 AM You're Practicing Scales Wrong
BigMoney Offline
Member

Registered: 05/31/17
Posts: 26
I was working on scalar related exercises and figured I would share them with the forum in case anyone was interested.

Take a C Major scale for example. You learn it ascending and descending in interval of seconds. This is fine and dandy but there is no point in practicing scales like this forever because it will eventually become a waste of time. When you practice something you already know, you aren't really practicing. You wouldn't sit down and practice an open G chord for 30 minutes would you? You already know how to do that so you wouldn't be learning anything from mindlessly playing it for that amount of time. The same principle applies to scales.

To get around this, you can practice scales using:

Different intervals such as 3rds, 4ths, 5ths, 6th, and finally 7ths.
Practicing them on 1 string, then 2 strings, etc.
Practicing them in triads/arpeggios - The C Major scale would be a Cmaj arpeggio, then a D minor, E minor, F Major, etc.
Practicing the scales while simultaneously saying/singing the note you're playing (harder than it sounds)

If one employs all these methods to each mode and each key they become a wizard. Anyone find these tips useful?

Cheers


Edited by BigMoney (07/04/17 09:38 AM)
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#2864387 - 07/04/17 02:07 PM Re: You're Practicing Scales Wrong [Re: BigMoney]
Winston Psmith Offline
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Originally Posted By: BigMoney


To get around this, you can practice scales using:

Different intervals such as 3rds, 4ths, 5ths, 6th, and finally 7ths.

Cheers


In my understanding, possibly mistaken, practicing scales mechanically is a form of 'weight training', so to speak, for your hands; it's intended to build strength, not Musicality.

That first exercise you describe reminds me of something from John McLaughlin's DVD's? One of the first exercises, if not the first, is essentially what you've described. Much more useful for breaking old habits, and finding new Music.
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#2864403 - 07/04/17 04:33 PM Re: You're Practicing Scales Wrong [Re: Winston Psmith]
Larryz Offline
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When I practice, I always start by running around in a few scales to warm up. Major/Minor/Pentatonic (using the flat 5), etc. I'm usually working on a song or two that I want to add to my list. I use the scales (patterns/modes) as reference points much the same way as I use chord formations as reference points. I work on my arrangements and the passing chords of the song. I pay attention to the melody and even inject a few melody lines into my improv just to break things up if needed. If you want to learn to sing the notes, just sing the song and play the lead melody while doing so. Try to recognize which mode you're in and it will help you find the right notes (intervals).

We all attack our practice sessions differently and have our own strategy (or the strategy of our teachers LOL!). I practice what I already know, all the time. It leads me to new discoveries. I also practice any new material using what I already know. It does involve both muscle memory and musical theory, but for me, it comes naturally without having to think about it. I listen for the similarities in the music I like to play around with and learn new things from many of the old standards. cool
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#2864419 - 07/04/17 06:48 PM Re: You're Practicing Scales Wrong [Re: Larryz]
A String Administrator Offline
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As Winston said, it's about muscle memory, more than memorization.
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#2864466 - 07/05/17 03:31 AM Re: You're Practicing Scales Wrong [Re: A String]
whitefang Online   content
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Registered: 05/13/02
Posts: 9644
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I'd have to go along with that. I've already admitted I don't know one musical scale from a bathroom scale, but I allow that I MIGHT be "practicing" various scales by accident, and, as others say, mostly to "limber up" and restore my dexerity. More pleasant anyway, and probably less damaging than "loosening up" by cracking my knuckles. wink
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#2864657 - 07/05/17 03:48 PM Re: You're Practicing Scales Wrong [Re: whitefang]
d Offline
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Registered: 03/20/01
Posts: 5926
Loc: no longer lexington, Kenfunky,...
Good suggestions overall, BMoney.

On the redundancy of practicing basic scales, besides what's been mentioned, one might do that as a speed-building exercise.

One might also consider varying some of BM's "jumping" practices as speed exercises...playing the same phrase in diff octaves with the move done as quickly as possible.
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#2864742 - 07/06/17 05:04 AM Re: You're Practicing Scales Wrong [Re: d]
whitefang Online   content
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like
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#2864780 - 07/06/17 09:46 AM Re: You're Practicing Scales Wrong [Re: BigMoney]
desertbluesman Offline
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Registered: 05/22/07
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Originally Posted By: BigMoney

Take a C Major scale for example. You learn it ascending and descending in interval of seconds.


Some nice ideas there, I practice scales for one simple reason, to loosen up my fingers, and get my touch back, it gets me back in touch with the guitar daily. I do scales about 15 minutes a day to loosen up, then I just play along with my backing tracks going from tone to tone without thinking much about theory. I once took lessons from some outstanding jazz players, but that took me into directions that I did not want to go, so I went back to blues based rock and the blues which are simple technically, and requires no thought beyond what key I am playing in.

Of course I am 74 years old, so I am at the end of my playing days, I only do guitar for amusement these days. I have no other agenda than amusing myself for a hour each day, and enjoying what I do.
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#2864834 - 07/06/17 02:48 PM Re: You're Practicing Scales Wrong [Re: desertbluesman]
whitefang Online   content
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And isn't THAT what really counts? wink

And don't give us anything about that age thing. PETE SEEGER kept it up until his death at age 94.

So you might, with luck and our good wishes, have 20 good years left in ya. smile
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#2865017 - 07/07/17 07:53 AM Re: You're Practicing Scales Wrong [Re: BigMoney]
Fred_C Offline
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Registered: 06/12/10
Posts: 2028
Loc: PA
Originally Posted By: BigMoney
I was working on scalar related exercises and figured I would share them with the forum in case anyone was interested.

Take a C Major scale for example. You learn it ascending and descending in interval of seconds. This is fine and dandy but there is no point in practicing scales like this forever because it will eventually become a waste of time. When you practice something you already know, you aren't really practicing. You wouldn't sit down and practice an open G chord for 30 minutes would you? You already know how to do that so you wouldn't be learning anything from mindlessly playing it for that amount of time. The same principle applies to scales.

To get around this, you can practice scales using:

Different intervals such as 3rds, 4ths, 5ths, 6th, and finally 7ths.
Practicing them on 1 string, then 2 strings, etc.
Practicing them in triads/arpeggios - The C Major scale would be a Cmaj arpeggio, then a D minor, E minor, F Major, etc.
Practicing the scales while simultaneously saying/singing the note you're playing (harder than it sounds)

If one employs all these methods to each mode and each key they become a wizard. Anyone find these tips useful?

Cheers


I agree. I always practice scales as described in your post. Good observations.
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#2865019 - 07/07/17 07:54 AM Re: You're Practicing Scales Wrong [Re: whitefang]
jimmac Offline
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Registered: 08/31/11
Posts: 192
Loc: Jackson, Michigan
I think les paul stayed at it too. Jim

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#2865058 - 07/07/17 09:25 AM Re: You're Practicing Scales Wrong [Re: desertbluesman]
d Offline
MP Hall of Fame Member

Registered: 03/20/01
Posts: 5926
Loc: no longer lexington, Kenfunky,...
Originally Posted By: desertbluesman
Of course I am 74 years old, so I am at the end of my playing days,

Cat, it's the 21st C !
You might live another 50+ yrs !
Don't let yer mindset be dictated by what was.
HeadPop
-------------------
It lately occurs to me that one aspect of practicing basic redundant scales is pitch/tonality recognition.
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#2865442 - 07/08/17 01:08 PM Re: You're Practicing Scales Wrong [Re: Winston Psmith]
BigMoney Offline
Member

Registered: 05/31/17
Posts: 26
Originally Posted By: Winston Psmith
Originally Posted By: BigMoney


To get around this, you can practice scales using:

Different intervals such as 3rds, 4ths, 5ths, 6th, and finally 7ths.

Cheers


In my understanding, possibly mistaken, practicing scales mechanically is a form of 'weight training', so to speak, for your hands; it's intended to build strength, not Musicality.

That first exercise you describe reminds me of something from John McLaughlin's DVD's? One of the first exercises, if not the first, is essentially what you've described. Much more useful for breaking old habits, and finding new Music.


Weight training a little, but it's good for learning the neck well too. A lot of people say that they know the neck, and they probably do, but you can always know the neck better. When you have a fraction of a second to find the note, exercises like these help.

I watched one of his DVDs. I think he discussed this exercise yes. I did not come up with it myself.
_________________________
The 3 elements of Western music are: melody, harmony, and rhythm.
When I play fingerstyle guitar, I play them all simultaneously.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCcZ2NCZyxrBJYC5yufPaVAg

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#2865457 - 07/08/17 02:28 PM Re: You're Practicing Scales Wrong [Re: BigMoney]
Justus A. Picker Offline
Platinum Member

Registered: 08/06/05
Posts: 1415

I'd say scale practice, interval practice, and arpeggio practice are equally important areas of focus. In the introduction to his scale book Segovia says something along the lines of "The practice of scales solves the greatest amount of technical problems in the shortest amount of time."

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#2865460 - 07/08/17 02:31 PM Re: You're Practicing Scales Wrong [Re: Justus A. Picker]
whitefang Online   content
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Registered: 05/13/02
Posts: 9644
Loc: Lincoln Park, MI, UNITED STATE...
Well, I don't think anyone's gonna argue with HIM, so thanks for bringing that up. smile
Whitefang
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#2865468 - 07/08/17 02:43 PM Re: You're Practicing Scales Wrong [Re: whitefang]
Larryz Offline
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Registered: 06/23/08
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Loc: Northern California
Muscle memory and speed does come from the weight lifting concept/aspect of practicing scale work. You can do the same thing with shredding practice. Arpeggios are great for ear training too. But, learning the sounds of the scale note intervals and learning the reference points on the neck where they are found, are more important to my ear and to my fingers. The scales really come in handy for finding the right notes in my improvisational endeavors... cool
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#2866078 - 07/11/17 04:15 AM Re: You're Practicing Scales Wrong [Re: Larryz]
Eric Iverson Offline
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Registered: 08/03/05
Posts: 5227
Loc: Jackson Heights, NY
Sure, scales and arpeggios are the language of music.
It's fine to practice them, but when we're performing, we're going to be doing TUNES and/or PIECES, so it's important to keep it in perspective.

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#2866123 - 07/11/17 08:01 AM Re: You're Practicing Scales Wrong [Re: Eric Iverson]
Larryz Offline
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Registered: 06/23/08
Posts: 10005
Loc: Northern California
Not necessarily Eric, when performing I like to improvise on the lead and do not always play a rehearsed tune or piece. I do have some practiced leads but when I'm told to take it, it is usually an improvised lead. I do not play any scale either, arpeggios, yes. I do use the scales as reference points while playing from the heart. cool
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