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# To the teachers...when teaching the Major scale

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(@mwilliams)
Trusted Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 50
Topic starter

Hi all...A quick one for the teachers out there (or anyone really!). So I'm going over the Major scale for the first time with a teacher (A Major to be specific). He gives me a layout of the scale notes starting on the open position and going to the 12th fret. I now noticed though that each position does not include each note in the scale (A, B, C#, D, E, F#, G#).

Using the open position as an example...he has me going:

Open E...F# (6th string)
Open A...B (5th string)
Open D...E (4th string)
G#...A (3rd string)
Open B...C#...D (2nd string)
Open E...F# (1st string)

I have never practiced a scale in position without strinking each note (in order) that makes up the scale (like above!). Please note that the above is just the open position. All the other positions he's given me also have various "missed" notes when going from the 6th to the 1st. Is what I'm being taught...recommended or am I just being anal?

Hope I was clear...thanks in advance!

Mike

(@noteboat)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 21 years ago
Posts: 4921

I'm not sure what your teacher is intending.

Any major scale can be played in any position except one, although only two positions lay all the notes under your fingers.

For A major, you can't play the scale in the 8th position... the notes there are C, F, A#/Bb, D#/Eb, G, C - none of which are in the A scale. You can play the scale in first position or fourth without moving your fingers out of position; second, ninth and eleventh have minimal stretches; fifth isn't too bad, and the others get more convoluted.

In open position, the notes are:

6th: open (E), 2nd (F#), 4th (G#)
5th: open (A), 2nd (B), 4th (C#)
4th: open (D), 2nd (E), 4th (F#)
3rd: 1st (G#), 2nd (A)
2nd: open (B), 2nd (C#), 3rd (D)
1st: open (E), 2nd (F#), 4th (G#). Optional stretch to 5th for A.

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(@mwilliams)
Trusted Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 50
Topic starter

YES! That's exactly what I was expecting...to play each note in the scale, in order (as you listed). My lesson is today and this has been bugging me. I'll ask and see where it goes...more later!

Thanks for the response,

Mike

(@mwilliams)
Trusted Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 50
Topic starter

Hi all...just got back from my lunch-time lesson. When I asked about the fingerings/positions that don't include each note in the scale, I was told that the goal is learn the notes in the scale, not a fixed pattern that includes each note. Once I learn the notes, the patterns wouldn't be that vital as I would be playing the scale notes, not patterns. He also said that the fingerings he's given me allow me to stay in position...in other words, no crazy stretches. I'm a bit torn here as I understand where he's coming from, it's just a different approach than anything I've seen or read. Any thoughts or should I just go with it?

Thanks,

Mike

(@fretsource)
Prominent Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 973

I was told that the goal is learn the notes in the scale, not a fixed pattern that includes each note.

I don't get it. If the goal is to learn the notes in the scale, why is he missing some of them out? It seems he's missing out scale notes that would normally appear on the fourth fret, like he doesn't want you to stretch that far (crazy stretches, as he called them). But stretching to the fourth fret (4th finger) is no big deal provided you have a good hand position, (which I assume he made sure you have).

(@noteboat)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 21 years ago
Posts: 4921

Mike, I kinda see where he's coming from. There's an advantage to seeing the entire neck as a set of notes in a key, rather than interlocking finger patterns.

But two things bother me about it...

First, you'll need to go through several of his patterns before you make use of any of them - you're missing notes, which makes it hard to play a run of any sort. You're even missing a chord tone (C# on the fifth string)

Second, it doesn't matter how he approaches the neck, you'll get stretches. As I mentioned earlier, there are only two places you can play a 2-octave range in any key withouth stretching: the open position, and the position one fret above the 6th string root - for A that's 4th position. Anyplace else, if you avoid the stretch, you skip notes.

That's got nothing to do with the way the notes are learned, it's just the basic layout of the guitar neck.

That said, most teachers experiment with their approach. I probably try something new in a lesson at least once a month; sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. If major scales are the only thing you're questioning, judge the teacher on your overall improvement.

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