Scales on one String

Anyone who has been exposed to Western music will be able to pick out the notes of the major scale by ear.

I suggest that this is a good starting point for guitar students for several reasons:

  • It reveals to them how much the basic language of music is already in their mind's ear.
  • They can immediately start creating tunes (I would suggest to disregard fingering concepts at this stage... let them use the 1st finger only). Once the desire to play melodies is developed, then the value of fingered scales is self apparent.
  • They start by concentrating on the melodic line, and it has been my experience that most guitarists are weak in appreciation of melodic intervals and melodic expression generally.
  • Having gained familiarity with the major scale on one string, it is then an easy conceptual leap to the basic arpeggio: Doh - Mi - Soh - DOH - Soh - Mi - Doh.

Read more: Scales on one String

Major scales on one string

I use the major scales to demonstrate varieties of expression, and the minor scales to demonstrate varieties of articulation.

You should apply any and all of the examples to all of the scales.

Play the scales slowly, with a singing, full tone and connected sounds.

Here is a quite standard musical expression:
C major scale

Learn the most common combinations of expression and dynamics first. Step out the scale.

Melodies usually get louder as they ascend, and usually get softer as they descend.
C major scale

Use dynamics.

Melodies usually get louder as they ascend, and then become softer as they descend.
F major on one string

Guitar Playing and how it Works, 5th edition
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Craft of Piano Playing by Alan Fraser

The DVD "Piano Technique:The Craft of Piano Playing" from Alan Fraser shows a comprehensive knowledge of and practical ability with a wide spectrum of approaches to piano technique. You will notice a lot of common ground with my approaches to the guitar.

This DVD from Alan Fraser shows a comprehensive knowledge of and practical ability with a wide spectrum of approaches to piano technique.

Canadian pianist Alan Fraser
Canadian pianist Alan Fraser

Rotation of the forearm
Rotation of the forearm

Natural hand positions (importance of the arch)
Natural hand positions (importance of the arch)

Demo Video

Click here to see the video at You-Tube

Guitarists - take note of:

  • The natural (arched) hand position at 00:49
  • Finger action and arm weight - 01:27
  • The thumb - 01:50, Importance of mobility - 04:04
  • Topic list: 02:37
  • Exploring the range of movements in the hand - 05:50, 07:32
  • Integrating movement - 06:18
  • Rotation - 06:38
  • Musical expression - 07:65