Play Scales Like Etudes

For those of you that are unsure what an Etude is, essentially, historically speaking, Etudes come out of the Classical music tradition. It is basically a "study" that is designed to help the musician perfect a specific technical aspect, often disguised as an actual tune.

So what I am suggesting when practicing the scale examples in my book New Approach to Scales for Guitarists , is to treat them as a very short Etudes. After all, you are using different techniques when playing scales in this "new approach." My last article on "Importance of Using a Metronome" I talked about learning how to play things slowly and to use the metronome to push yourself to get better by gauging your daily improvement. I have also recently created a new report, "10 Awesome Ways to Use a Metronome," which is essentially an updated and slightly fortified version of "Importance of Using a Metromome" post. (Feel free to contact me if you would like a copy of " 10 Awesome Ways to Use a Metronome ." I'm happy to share with you)

Since I lay out the scales in my book with only 4 examples per scale (some scales even less) and only really 2 different patterns, it really cuts learning scales down significantly (over 70% less work actually). The only thing that is a little time consuming is going through all the keys. We can not do anything about that unless you only wanted to play in one key the rest of your life. However, realistically, you could learn one new scale in all keys down cold, every week. And I do not mean just be able to play them, I mean ripping on them! In 29 weeks you will have learned all the scales in the book. That's around 7 months. Very doable.

The How To:

1. Start by picking a tempo goal, a final (or maximum) tempo you would like to play all the scales at the end of each week. (ex. 224 BPM)

2. Next pick a slow tempo you want to start off with for each scale. (ex. 50 BPM) Slow is good remember! Especially when learning something new.

3. Now subtract your starting tempo (ST) from your maximum tempo (MT) to figure out the complete weekly target range (WTR) of BPM you need to cover in a week. Then divide that by the number of days (7), and you'll get the BMP daily target range (DTR) for each day. I guess it could be expressed as an equation:

(MT – ST = WTR) 7 7 = DTR

So let's use our numbers above as an example:

(224 – 50 = 174) 7 7 = 24-25 BPM

Over a period of one week we achieve our 174 BPM (WTR) with an increase of 24-25 BPM (DTR) each day. If you start at 50 BPM on day 1, your goal is to reach a metronome marking of 72-76 BPM, day 2, 96-100 BPM, and day 3, 126 BPM. Then on and on, until day 7 you have reached your Maximum Tempo (MT), 224 BPM.

4. Lastly, to get to your daily target range (DTR), you do not have to increase by small amounts, like 2-4 BPM. Try dividing the DTR in half. I'm sure if you start at 50 BPM you can do 63 BPM next, then finally 76 BPM (your goal for day 1). You'll also want to go through each key every day. You can stick to one key at a time, or my favorite, do all the keys before you increase the tempo. Remember it will take longer at the slow tempos. At faster tempos the amount of time it takes each day will decrease. Every day you practice, it takes less and less time.

In the end think of all that "study" your fingers will have gotten finding all the "good notes" by doing a different scale each week. You'll know your scales and your fretboard so well it will make your friends' heads spin! Furthermore, you will feel a sense of great accomplishment having one more thing towards getting your musical arsenal together.

Treat scales like Etudes and you'll master what many people avoid.

Thanks for reading and get crackin '!

Adam Smale

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