Quickstart Guide to Practicing Scales

Use these guidelines to help you practice scales in a non repetitive manner:

  • Maintain your hands parallel to the fret-board of the instrument. Try to maintain the fingers as close as possible to the fretboard, this will give you speed.
  • As a general rule, we should alternate our picking pattern (one stroke down, one stroke up) when playing more than one note in every string.
  • Play each new scale slowly, looking for its structure. Little by Little, you can increase your speed, but always seeking clarity and certainty in the notes. Speed is not important in the beginning.
  • Change the rhythm patterns of the scales; this will make the scale more interesting. Create ascending and descending sequence patterns. Add pull-offs and hammer-ons to the scales and other articulations.
  • Try listening to the sonority that the scales offer us. Many times, when we are in the middle of an improvisation, we seek a particular sonority. There are many melodies that utilize a particular scale because of their region or country of origin; the scale reflects the sonority of that region. The majority of the scales in the book have a moveable pattern. Use the movable pattern to do scales in different positions. Remember that if you move the movable pattern to another position, the name of the scale changes.
  • Learn the scales in different keys signatures. Repeat each scale several times.
  • The scales and arpeggios should not be practiced in a mechanical and meaningless way. Add musical elements such as legatos, staccatos and dynamic changes to your practice.

These tips will help you get more benefit and enjoyment out of your practice sessions. Dedicate some time to studying scales and arpeggios each time you sit down to practice.

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