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Practical Theory: Practice Tips for Scales (Part 1)

Practicing scales in a musical way helps keep things interesting. In this lesson, we kick off with some tips for practicing scales by using different intervals, arpeggios and fingerings.

We’re also introducing a new approach to looking at the Major scale formula. Normally, we view it as 7 different steps (8, if you count the octave):

G A B C D E F# (G)

Simply, that breaks down as follows:

  1. Whole step (G -> A)
  2. Whole step (A -> B)
  3. Half step (B -> C)
  4. Whole step (C -> D)
  5. Whole step (D -> E)
  6. Whole step (E -> F#)
  7. Half step (F# -> G)

In this lesson, we’re dividing the scale into two parts, so we get two distinct four note scales, also known as tetrachords. This means we’re using identical patterns in the first half and the second half.

So our “lower” Major tetrachord is G A B C (whole, whole, half).

And our “upper” Major tetrachord is D E F# G (again, whole, whole, half).

This works because it is easier to remember two 4-note scales than a single 8-note sequence, because it is easier to get an overview of the fretboard when viewing the scale in this manner.