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Reasons and Methods for Practicing Your Guitar Scales

Guitar scales don’t have to be boring!

When your music instructor or someone else encourages you to go over scales, it may conjure up images of childhood lessons, and going over a scale for hours until your eyes glaze over. It doesn’t have to be that way! Learning and practicing scales on your guitar is extremely important in your musical development, but it doesn’t have to be a bore.

practicing guitar scales

Practicing guitar scales

A painter wants to make full use of all available colors. In the same way, you can and should have the full range of notes in every scale available to you. Here are a few suggestions to make it more productive and interesting.

Expand Your Palette Methodically

Using the painter analogy above, if you consider the possibility of expanding your tonal palette by maximizing the use of notes in your scales, it can be quite exciting! Oftentimes, the painter will concentrate on variations of one color (say, blue for example) when learning to paint. Likewise, start with one scale at a time, and learn the various ways to play it up and down the fretboard. Don’t always play the notes in exact order, but play them in different combinations. In the process, you may find that riff or tune you have been searching for! Use these to create your own music. Not only will you cement the scale in your mind, you will have the framework for original music for your efforts.

Make no mistake; this process can be time consuming. But once you have done this with a few scales, you will see the value in fully exploring each scale completely. It will not be boring, and it will be productive!

Forming the Matrix

As you fully master these scales one by one, you will see how they relate to one another. In addition, while you are learning one scale, you are actually learning several different modes at once. If you are at the beginning stage of your musical path, words like Dorian, Phyrgian, Lydian, Mixolydian, and Locrian may sound like Greek to you. (Yes, they actually ARE based on Greek words.) But as you progress, you will most likely learn these things. For now, just consider them exciting extensions of what you are already learning.

As you see how different scales and modes interact, you will become proficient at knowing where to go next when creating new songs and chord progressions. It’s another situation where slowing down and taking your time learning is actually the quickest way to progress.

Keep Growing

Learning and practicing scales does not have to put you to sleep! Use them to expand your creativity and improve your musicianship.

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