Monday, January 14, 2008

How Long Should I Practice Each Scale Pattern Before Adding Another One?

> writes:
> Just picked up a copy of you Chord-Tone soloing book.
> Great reviews is what sold me. I'm just trying to expand
> my guitar knowledge and hopefully my soloing. My
> question is I've come to Major scales chapter 6. As a
> practicing schedule would you like start on pattern 1 for
> a couple of weeks, add two, and so on. Then when would
> you start intervals, and chords and arpegios? I'm trying
> to develop a schedule and I'm just looking for some
> suggestions. Thanks and I'm looking forward in diving
> into your book!!
> Winchester, KY

Hi S.S,

The short answer is, you know yourself best. If you get them mixed up or start forgetting shapes as you learn new ones, then you're going too fast. I can't give you a set time frame for each thing like one week, two weeks, etc. because it is different for everybody.

You want to gradually add new fretboard shapes (chords, scales, and arpeggios) to your practice schedule in a way that doesn't overwhelm your ability to absorb the information. It's like juggling. Maybe you can juggle four balls but adding the fifth one makes you drop all of them. You'd have to stick with four for a little longer.

I think trying to learn too many new shapes at once is the same way. When you can get up cold in the morning, turn on the metronome, and play a scale pattern in time, with no mistakes on the first try (and it feels like you know it), then it's ok to start working on a new one.

After you know them, you can always benefit by continuing to practice the scales and arpeggios so you don't forget them, and can do more things with them. I still practice them after knowing them for many years, only now I'm practicing longer melodic sequences of notes that use them.

As an example, last night I was practicing this 8-note scale sequence, both alternate-picked and using pulloffs. It is written in pattern 3 of C major.


When moved through the scale it looks like this. Each measure starts one note lower than the one before.



This way I'm still practicing the scale, but I'm doing something unfamiliar with it that may become part of a solo or a melody later.

Once you know a shape, you want to do the same: continue to practice it but in a way that you haven't done before. That way you will stay engaged in what you are learning. If you start to daydream about other stuff while you practice, that's bad. Then you're going too slow; so you need to move faster, make it a little harder, or of course, add a new scale, interval, or arpeggio to the list of practice items.

Shoot for a pace that falls between these two extremes and you should be OK!

I hope this helps. Thanks again, and good luck.


Barrett Tagliarino

Barrett Tagliarino