What Is A Scale?

Scales. We always talk about them in music. But I’m constantly amazed at how many people don’t really understand what a scale is. Even musicians who are awesome with knowing and playing their scales.

Simply put, a scale is the right notes. We generally practice them by playing the notes from lowest to highest and then back again.

Here’s an example. The notes A B C D E F G A are the A Minor scale. The notes A B C# D E F# G# A are the A Major scale. Practicing your scales is as simple as playing the right notes over and over again. We practice scales by playing them up and down, and then also by improvising with them.

The way we practice scales is also important. There are “correct” fingers to use and “correct” picking that it should be combined with. This depends on where the scale is, how it’s arranged and the ability of the student. Scales should always be practiced the exact same (and correct) way. After all, it does’t make sense to practice something differently each time!

Knowing how to play scales is great, but knowledge of their notes and uses is equally important – why else would we learn them?! I always recommend memorising the notes of each scale and saying the notes aloud while you play them.

Knowing the notes of a scale will mean you know how to use the scale when improvising or soloing. It will also deepen your appreciation for music and music theory.

Hopefully you’re convinced of their importance and use. A general rule of thumb for these types of things, is to look at all the top guitarists. How many of them know their scales? Pretty much all of them. If they need to know it, then we do too!

Need help with learning scales? Check out our FREE ONLINE LESSONS or Contact Us to make a booking via Skype or in person.

(As a side note, the scale featured at the start of this article is the C Major Pentatonic… and the one behind the title is C major. I know, I’m a bit of a music nerd. And proud of it.)

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