Yet More Exercises

This is another tutorial which was inspired by questions from the AllExperts website - if you haven't visited AllExperts yet then you really ought to.


Following on from a previous tutorial, this tutorial introduces a basic idea for an exercise which covers a basic idea for an exercise, which once you've got to grips with it, it should be easy enough for you to as a starting point and adapt it into variations of your own.

The Basic Exercise

The basic exercies here is based the major scale 'box', and follows a pattern of diatonic thirds moving upwards through the scale.

The pattern here is to play a note from the scale, followed by the next-but-one note up from that, followed by the note that falls in between these two notes. This might sound a bit complicated, but one you start playing the pattern (1-3, 2-4, 3-5, etc) you'll see that it's a lot more logical than it sounds.

Here's the basic exercise written out in notation, in the key of C major.


As with all exercises, remember that out-and-out speed is not the primary objective. Start at a pace whereby you can play accurately and smoothly, then build up speed as you become more proficient.

This exercise could be used purely as a means of honing your playing technique, but you may also find it helpful as an exercise in learning the notes in a scale. As you play each note say (or think) both the note name and its number from within the scale (e.g. "C 1 - E 3, D 2 - F 4, E 3 - G 5..."). Obviously, this limit how quickly you can actually play the exercise, but in this case, speed is not the ultimate goal.



There are obviously several different ways that you can adapt this basic exercise. I'll give you a few suggestions here, and you can take these ideas and either use them verbatim, or develop your own variations



The most obvious variation, really. Instead of moving upwards through the scale, start on the highest notes, and move down in patterns of 1-6, 7-5, 6-4 and so on.


Other Positions

Don't just run through this exercise in the key of C major - move the scale 'box' around the neck and play in different keys. I'd suggest that you follow the Circle of Fifths from C, moving clockwise, rather than simply moving up or down a semitone after each repetition. This is especially useful if you're using this as an exercise for learning note names in each key.


Other Scale Types

Instead of just using the major scale, use other scales such as the natural minor, harmonic minor and modes (this exercise doesn't work quite so well with pentatonics, though). If you're using this exercise to learn note names, when you say a notes number, remember to use the numbering that is applicable to the scale formula (e.g. "b3" instead of "3" in a minor key, and so on).

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