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The Importance of Scales (Guitar Lesson)

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Danny Voris

The Importance of Scales

Lesson 8 covers scale exercises in the classical format. Danny provides a few patterns that focus on finger independence and position shifts.

Taught by Danny Voris in Classical Guitar seriesLength: 6:26Difficulty: 1.0 of 5
Chapter 1: (06:26) Scales The Importance of Scales

Note: The following information pertaining to the importance of scales is taken from Lesson 4 of Matt Brown's Phase 2 Rock Series.

Practicing scales helps develop four basic skill sets that are essential to all musicians.

1. Practicing scales enhances technical ability. Playing scales is an excellent way to monitor your hand posture (both right and left). Through repetitious practice of scales, speed can very gradually be increased. How do you think players such as Kirk Hammett or Dimebag Darrell can play such fast lines? They spent several years of diligent practice working on their scales.

2. Practicing scales is the best practice for being able to perform melodic content musically. When playing scales, they must be interpreted as a series of resolutions passing from one note to another. If you do not practice your scales musically, your solos and melodies will not sound musical.

3. Playing scales increases your knowledge of the fretboard. In order to improvise effectively in a given tonality, you must be able to play the scale horizontally and vertically across the entire neck. In the course of a solo, you don't have time to sit and figure out where the next pentatonic box is. This must all be memorized through practice in advance. In order to play any written repertoire such as a classical piece or a jazz chord solo, one must know all the scale patterns that the piece contains. Knowledge of scales is also essential to writing songs. Without a total knowledge of all the different scales and sounds available, how do you expect to write music that doesn't all sound the same?

4. Scales are the basic building blocks of music. Consequently, almost all important music theory concepts are derived from scales.

The Major Scale

The most important scale in Western music is the major scale. It is used most frequently when composing chord progressions and melodies. Numerous other scales such as the modes of the major scale and the major pentatonic scale are derived from the major scale. In addition, chord formulas and other scale formulas are often based on the basic formula for the major scale. Consequently, the major scale is the first scale that guitarists should study.

Note: For additional music theory information pertaining to the major scale, check out the major scale section in JamPlay's Scale Library. This library can be accessed through the "Teaching Tools" button located on the left hand side of the home page.

Guidelines for Practicing Scales

1. Always play scales musically. Hear the notes within a scale as a set of melodic resolutions.

2. Play in time with a metronome to monitor rhythm and progress.

3. Always ascend and descend when playing any scale. Remember Steve Eulberg's scale mantra: "what goes up must come down."

4. Begin and end scale patterns on the lowest root note whenever possible. This gives the scale a definite sense of beginning and ending.

5. Always alternate right hand fingers. Use fingers I and M, M and A, and I and A when practicing any scale.

6. Practice all scale patterns in all 12 keys. Refer to the circle of fifths to ensure that you have not left any keys out. A diagram of the circle of fifths can be found under the "Supplemental Content" tab.

7. Practice scales with both free strokes and rest strokes.

C Major Scale (1st Position)

Tablature and standard notation to all scale patterns discussed in this lesson can be found under the "Supplemental Content" tab.

Watch at 00:42 as Danny demonstrates a one octave C major scale played in first position. Memorize this pattern and practice it as part of your daily warm-up routine.

Segovia Scale Patterns

Guitar legend Andres Segovia developed a set of major scale patterns that are specifically geared towards classical guitar. In this lesson, Danny demonstrates two common major scale patterns developed by Segovia.

A. C Major (Two Octaves with Position Shift)

The first pattern that Danny demonstrates features a position shift. The scale begins in second position. Within a position each fretting finger carries out a specific job. Second position spans frets 2-5. In this position, the first finger frets all notes at the 2nd fret. The middle finger plays 3rd fret notes. Notes at the 4th fret are played by the ring finger. The pinky frets notes at the fifth fret.

Once the note B is reached at the 4th fret of the third string, the position shift occurs. The scale now shifts to fifth position. The second octave of the scale begins with the note C played at the 5th fret of the third string. Remember to shift back into second position when playing the descending form of the pattern.

Note: This fretboard pattern can be transposed to any major key.

B. G Major (Two Octaves in Second Position)

Similar to the last pattern, this pattern can be transposed to all 12 keys. To play this pattern in the key of C major, begin the pattern with the C root note located at the 8th fret of the sixth string. Unlike the previous pattern, this pattern features no position shifts.

Creating a Practice Schedule

By now, Danny has shown you several important technical exercises. For most people, it will be impossible to fit all of these exercises into each daily warm-up session. For this reason, it is necessary to lay out a weekly practice schedule. Allot a specific amount of time for each exercise. Practice a few exercises each day. Make sure that all important exercises are practiced at least once within the span of the week. For additional information on creating a practice schedule, refer to Matt Brown's 1st Rock lesson as well as the 7th and 8th lessons from his Phase 2 Jazz Series.

Video Subtitles / Captions


Supplemental Learning Material



Member Comments about this Lesson

Discussions with our instructors are just one of the many benefits of becoming a member of JamPlay.

venturaventura replied

Enter your comment here.

devon mccreadevon mccrea replied

Segovia says, that every guitarist should practice his scales at least two hours a day if he wishes to become a good guitarist. That being said, scales are the most important to practice, before you even look at a sheet of music, all of your scales should be played.

tsopatsopatsopatsopa replied

It would be very helpful if you add another version of notation without TAB in the supplement content so that beginners can also practice their sight reading skills without depending on TAB too much.

devon mccreadevon mccrea replied

Danny, this comment is very true. I second on having the option to not have TAB. To many guitarist rely on TAB instead of reading music.

dougadamsdougadams replied

In my humble opinion, this is perhaps the most important 6:26 at Jamplay. These two exercises open up the fretboard like magic, wonderful. Thank you!

dwiarpdwiarp replied

It was every good but i cannot see what fingers you are placing where.

devon mccreadevon mccrea replied

There is sheet music in "Supplemental Content"

haraldoharaldo replied

I really enjoyed this lesson series. Unfortunately its very short. Is more on the way??

kevinacekevinace replied

Yes sir. A lot more is on the way!

Classical Guitar

Found in our Beginner Lesson Sets

The origins of the classical guitar date back to the fifteenth century. The vihuela, lute, and baroque guitar are the early predecessors of the guitar. With its origins reaching deep into the past, the classical guitar repertoire spans over five hundred years worth of material. Danny Voris explains the techniques necessary to mastering this timeless art form.

Overview of the Classical GuitarLesson 1

Overview of the Classical Guitar

Danny provides an overview of the topics that will be discussed in this lesson set. He also explains the origin of the classical guitar.

Length: 5:57 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Preparing to Play the Classical GuitarLesson 2

Preparing to Play the Classical Guitar

In this lesson, Danny covers proper posture and how to hold the classical guitar. He also explains how to shape the nails in order to produce the best tone possible.

Length: 19:44 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Installing Nylon StringsLesson 3

Installing Nylon Strings

Danny demonstrates how to install nylon strings on a classical guitar.

Length: 12:58 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Left Hand TechniqueLesson 4

Left Hand Technique

Danny covers the basics of left hand techniques for classical guitar.

Length: 20:19 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Finger Independence Lesson 5

Finger Independence

For lesson five, Danny discusses left hand finger independence. He also discusses hammer-on and pull-off technique.

Length: 17:06 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Right Hand TechniqueLesson 6

Right Hand Technique

In lesson 6, Danny discusses and demonstrates right hand technique for the classical style.

Length: 24:26 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
ArpeggiosLesson 7


Lesson 7 is all about arpeggios. Danny provides discussion and exercises designed to build your right hand skills.

Length: 8:43 Difficulty: 1.5 FREE
The Importance of ScalesLesson 8

The Importance of Scales

Lesson 8 covers scale exercises in the classical format. Danny provides a few patterns that focus on finger independence and position shifts.

Length: 6:26 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Renaissance PeriodLesson 9

Renaissance Period

In lesson 9, Danny begins discussion of the five different musical periods of classical guitar music. He starts with the Renaissance.

Length: 40:19 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Robert Johnson's AlmanLesson 10

Robert Johnson's Alman

In lesson 10, Danny takes a more in depth look at a Robert Johnson's "Alman." This lesson contains a detailed explanation of fingering.

Length: 27:36 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Behind the Scenes with Danny VorisLesson 11

Behind the Scenes with Danny Voris

Danny Voris discusses the major music periods and the advent of tonality.

Length: 7:19 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Baroque PeriodLesson 12

Baroque Period

Danny discusses and demonstrates a piece from the Baroque period.

Length: 22:17 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Classical PeriodLesson 13

Classical Period

In lesson 13, Danny discusses the Classical period of music.

Length: 20:53 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Romantic PeriodLesson 14

Romantic Period

In lesson 14, Danny discusses the Romantic period of music. He demonstrates a famous piece from this period commonly referred to as "Romance."

Length: 21:11 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
The 20th CenturyLesson 15

The 20th Century

In this lesson, Danny discusses the 20th century influence on classical guitar.

Length: 22:43 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Danny Voris

About Danny Voris View Full Biography

A unique guitarist in the region, Wright State alumnus Danny Voris, musically fulfills audiences with a mixture of exciting guitar playing and talented compositional skills. After graduating WSU in 1989, Danny obtained a teaching position at Sinclair Community College. In the fall of 2000, Danny obtained a scholarship to the graduate program at The University of Akron. After graduating the University of Akron in 2002 with a Master’s degree in Classical Guitar Performance, Danny returned to Dayton. There he began teaching at Jim McCutcheon Music Studios and at The Miami Valley School in Kettering, Ohio.

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