Jan 25, 2010

Scales, scales, they're good for your skills...

...the more you play, the more it kills.

Scales are one of the major building blocks of playing any instrument. I remember having to memorize and play then in high school band as warm ups every class...and I hated them. Scales are just so boring and I wasn't very good at memorizing them.

I couldn't get myself to play them when I was tooting on the trumpet back in my high school, brass rockin' days, and the same applied in my transition to the strings. Being a self-taught guitarist, I always figured learning scales were one of the best ways to learn the fret board, to strengthen my fretting hand, and to work on my alternate picking, among other things. Unfortunately, it never caught on. I skipped to the fun part, searching the internet for guitar tabs of songs I wanted to learn and strumming away.

So here I am, close to 9 years since I first picked up a guitar and the scales are coming back to haunt me. Still running with the self-teaching philosophy, lately I've been disgusted with my lack of knowledge with what I'm playing. (That and learning other people's songs. I know Good Riddance by Green Day yet I don't know some of the most basic theory!) I've written dozens of songs, I've been in a band, I play my guitar most every day, but if you were to ask me what I was playing, beyond the basic explanation of, "this is a G-chord", I'd probably talk like I just picked up a guitar yesterday.

Last week I pulled out an on old book, part of the K-I-S-S series of books (Keep It Simple Series...or Keep It Simple Stupid for someone like me.), for a starting point, something to jump start my thirst for guitar learning goodness.  The scales section popped right out at me and now whenever I'm just sitting around I tool with every scale I can literally wrap my hand around; major, minor, melodic minor, harmonic minor, chromatic, pentatonic....it just goes on.

As simple and straight forward as some of the stuff in this book seems, having played for all this time, I think spending some time going over this mind-boggling music theory stuff will do me good. It's not the most fun thing in the world, I mean, let's play some songs! (Write some songs is more like it.) But that's what happened 9 years ago and I think it's time to get a little more serious, no matter how much is hurts.

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