Let's Major on C Major (Guitar Lesson)

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David Isaacs

Let's Major on C Major

You'll be introduced to the C Major scale and then you'll be able to put it to use over a soothing acoustic guitar rhythm bed. Have fun!

Taught by David Isaacs in Beginner Guitar With David Isaacs seriesLength: 10:37Difficulty: 1.5 of 5


Congratulations, it's time for our first complete scale! In this lesson you'll learn how to play the C major scale, what “scale” actually means from a musical perspective, and a little conceptual stuff on the layout of the guitar. We'll finish up with a simple and very pretty melody using the C major scale against a nice acoustic guitar backing track.

The key of C major is a great starting point: the notes are easy to reach, we're not using any pesky sharps or flats, and the sound is very familiar: do-re-mi-fa-sol-la-ti-do! Best of all, by practicing these notes you are preparing your fingers to play the chords that will be introduced in the next lesson.

A “scale” is simply a series of notes in order. Most scales will move sequentially through the musical alphabet, using each letter once. (There are important exceptions to this, more on that later). Remember that the musical alphabet goes from A through G and then starts over, so the note A follows G in the sequence. On a keyboard, this is very easy to see: strike a key, then the next key to the right, then the next. As you move to the right you would hear the notes rise in pitch in what we might call stepwise increments. So there's a direct and clear connection between the physical movement across the keyboard and the sound of the notes that movement produces. We might say that the keyboard is linear: move in a straight line to produce the scale. On the guitar, this is a little less clear.

If we stay on a single string, the guitar is linear like a keyboard. Move along the neck and the notes climb in pitch. But our open position C scale uses just 3 frets across a series of strings, and the linear aspect becomes a lot less clear. For now, simply memorize the finger pattern and focus on the sound it produces. You will notice, though, that there is order here: as we move from an open string to the next fretted note, we climb the scale. Add another finger and we take another step, or sometimes we move to the next string to reach the next step.

It's useful if you can remember the note names and locations – for example, that the note C is on the 3rd fret of the 5th string – but not essential at this point. Treat the scale as a finger exercise, and as a piece of information that we'll put to use right away in the accompanying exercise, “The Coronation”.

“The Coronation” uses the C major scale as a melody, essentially just moving up and down the sequence in time over a set of changing chords. You'll see how easy it is to make a simple scale into a piece of music just by adding a little harmony! As always when working with backing tracks, concentrate on keeping time. Practice the scale alone, keeping a steady beat. When you can play smoothly through all eight notes, up and down the sequence, you're ready to move to the backing track. Some people may find that the descending scale is a little more of a challenge...the sequence seems to be easier for the brain and fingers when we climb. Just remember that when descending, we'll generally follow an open string with a fretted note on the next string. The logic of this may not be clear yet, but it will be as you become more familiar with the neck. Eventually, you won't think about it at all: experienced players simply have the musical thought and the fingers follow. What we're doing right now is training the fingers to learn the sequences so you can use them in different settings later.

You'll notice that we're working mostly with steady quarter notes in stepwise motion, with a few exceptions where we hold a note longer or skip a note. These little variations are also part of what makes the notes into music. Remember this idea down the road when we begin to explore lead playing and improvisation! Even though we're still early into this journey, these little ideas will help shape the player you become.





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alangorkinalangorkin replied

When i try to print the pdf, it only prints the lesson plan, not the music. I get around this by taking a screen shot, but it barely gets everything in. anything im doing wrong?

FiftyOneFiftyFiftyOneFifty replied

Hi alangorkin! I'll just jump in on both of your comments here. Regarding the names of the notes in C Major...there really isn't any kind of shortcut. It can be useful to run the chord as a scale so you can learn the notes sequentially, but that's still just memorization. About that PDF, I didn't have any issues downloading a printing the notation. Did you use the printer or download icons that pop up in the upper right corner when you hover your mouse over the notation?

alangorkinalangorkin replied

is there any trick to learning the names of the notes? Not the open strings, thats easy. Just hard to follow the fretted notes

CF17CF17 replied

Great lesson- Note that I cannot download the pdf. Is this a bug?

FiftyOneFiftyFiftyOneFifty replied

Hi CF17! I didn't have any issues downloading the PDF for this one. Did you try hovering over the notation and clicking the download icon in the upper right corner? You can also click the printer and select "Print to PDF" as your printer...this will also save a copy. I hope this helps!

SusieQ10SusieQ10 replied

I am really enjoying all of these lessons by David. Also getting more comfortable with my geetar!

BootSQBootSQ replied

I like the numbered fret board with the orange circle and the notes light up as played. Great concept!

CavanaughCavanaugh replied

Everyone is in the bucket called "beginner". This is a very simple exercise. But some pieces came together. I founds myself going from the video, to tabs, to staff, and making the changes fairly effortlessly Thanks Dave

bigempirebigempire replied

Thanks David! I now know a C major scale on guitar! You make the lessons very easy to understand.

zaprince56zaprince56 replied

very good exercises, and very clear demonstration, tanks David!

clm123clm123 replied

very cool. love the coronation melody.

coot69coot69 replied

when I play with backing tracks I choke up.

Southern CashSouthern Cash replied

Playing with backing tracks def force your timing issues.

myjamplaysmyjamplays replied

these audio issues happen in mac firefox I changed to safari and seems to be ok so far.

myjamplaysmyjamplays replied

the audio goes at the 2 minute mark for some reason this is happening on a lot of video audio of late. could you please reset all audio and videos re upload them because its happening on a lot of video atm. like one in 3.

Beginner Guitar With David Isaacs

Found in our Beginner Lesson Sets

Don't get stuck learning chords, scales and theory with nowhere to apply the things you work on. Take the "David Isaacs" approach and learn the guitar by using real music. You'll be playing along with simple song examples after the second lesson!



The Series IntroductionLesson 1

The Series Introduction

Don't get stuck learning chords, scales and theory with nowhere to apply the things you work on. Take the "David Isaacs" approach and learn the guitar by using real music. You'll be playing along with...

Length: 2:32 Difficulty: 0.5 FREE
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Tune up, learn your way around your guitar, and explore a simple, musical picking exercise to help you learn the string names. You'll be playing right out of the gate!

Length: 22:20 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Hands on the FretboardLesson 3

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Learn hand position, posture and see how to set up your playing for success when it comes to your fret hand. Dave goes in depth with his discussion and demonstration of hand mechanics. Don't miss this...

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Your First Song!Lesson 4

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Power to the ChordsLesson 5

Power to the Chords

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Music & MelodyLesson 6

Music & Melody

Learn a simple melody and take in a little info about what a 'key' is. You can learn the melody and have a friend strum the rhythm. Or, do it the other way around!

Length: 18:07 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Two Finger Chords & MoreLesson 7

Two Finger Chords & More

These simple, musical tools can take you a long way. Use your index and middle fingers to play a simple Am chord and a simple E chord. You'll also learn how to read chord charts and play through another...

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A Simple MelodyLesson 8

A Simple Melody

You will be introduced to a simple A minor scale and then learn a song that helps you get your new scale under your finger tips!

Length: 12:08 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Finger IndependenceLesson 9

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Let's Major on C MajorLesson 10

Let's Major on C Major

You'll be introduced to the C Major scale and then you'll be able to put it to use over a soothing acoustic guitar rhythm bed. Have fun!

Length: 10:37 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
The C Chord and G7 ChordLesson 11

The C Chord and G7 Chord

Here you'll get to spend some time applying some fundamental chord shapes. Dave shows how to switch between these two chords seamlessly and, as usual, has a creative example ready to go so you can put...

Length: 18:39 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
G and C Working TogetherLesson 12

G and C Working Together

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Playing Most SongsLesson 13

Playing Most Songs

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Length: 14:04 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
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Rhythm & Charts

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Chord Shapes & ArpeggiosLesson 18

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Work on precision with your picking hand and more finger independence with your fretting hand using a soothing practice track called "Chimes". You'll get a good taste of combining melody and rhythm playing...

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Complete CLesson 20

Complete C

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Length: 16:28 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
The Return to ChordsLesson 21

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Shifty PentatonicLesson 22

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Let's Major on A MinorLesson 23

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Moveable PentatonicLesson 27

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Length: 8:44 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
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Syncopated Strumming

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David Isaacs

About David Isaacs View Full Biography Nashville-based Dave Isaacs has made a name for himself as one of Music City's top guitar instructors, working with both professional and aspiring songwriters and artists at his Music Row teaching studio. He is also an instructor in the music department at Tennessee State University and is the coordinator and artistic director of the annual TSU Guitar Summit.

A seasoned performer as well, Dave has released eight independent CDs and gigs steadily as a solo artist, bandleader, and sideman. He continues to write, record, and perform as well as arranging and producing projects for other artists.

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