Saturday, October 06, 2007

How I Practice Scales

2:12 pm - practiced scales, C major in DADGAD. The value of practicing scales, as far as I can tell, comes only as you practice them enough so that they are totally automatic - no thinking at all about what note is next. I have the following method for scale practice, keeping this in mind:
  • Start with 1 octave, and practice ascending and descending that octave, using one of the following techniques:
    • All fretted strings (good for learning patterns that can move up and down the neck)
    • Conventional pattern using open & fretted strings (for this technique you are learning a pattern that is specific to a particular key, but it is good to practice this way)
    • Harp technique (play adjacent notes across different string, letting notes ring out as much as possible)
  • At first, start with a steady beat and subdivide into two notes: 1 and 1 and 1 and ...
  • Once you are no longer thinking about what string comes next, and your body is relaxed, then divide that same beat into three: 1 and a 1 and a ...
  • Once this is comfortable, divide by 4, then 5, then 6, then (if you can) 7, 8...
I usually top out at dividing the beat by 6. It is also fun to emphasize different notes within whatever division you are using.

Once I've got one octave down, say at 4 notes per beat, I go to a different octave in the same key and practice it using the same technique. Then I will practice both octaves together. Then I may learn another octave, only adding it to the first two once I've got it down by itself.

The keys that are best for the second two techniques in DADGAD are: Bflat, F, C, G, and D.

Still good but not ideal are: A, E, and Eflat.