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What’s the Best Way to Learn Guitar

Scale Fingerings?

In the previous tutorial, you learned to play your first major scale.  By now you
may be wondering what the best way is to learn to play the major scale on guitar. 

There are many approaches you can use to learn guitar scale fingerings fast.  We
won’t cover them all in this lesson---I don’t want to overwhelm you.  Here we will
start with one of the most effective.
To learn guitar, there are mental aspects as well as the
obvious physical.  For the major scale fingering we looked at
in our last email, your fingers have to perform certain moves
in order to play the scale. 

For your fingers to do what they need to, your mind must
know what is required of your fingers. 

The first accelerated learning technique we will look at is
called chunking

All too often, guitar players tend to bite off more than they
can chew. 

What I mean by this is that most guitarists try to learn
things in pieces that are actually too large for their current
playing skills.  The solution is to break things down into
smaller chunks so they will be easier to remember. 
Here’s what that looks like…

First, here’s the major scale fingering:
Most people would attempt memorize this by rote-they would play this scale form
over and over until it is memorized.  Now this will work, but it will take way too
much time.  When you take this approach, you are treating this scale fingering like
one big chunk of information that your brain and fingers have to memorize.

Divide and Conquer

A much more effective way to conquer this scale is divide it into small pieces.  For
something to make it into long-term memory, it must first be processed by short-
term memory. 

Trying to learn 15 notes at once is not really effective for most beginner and
intermediate players. 

Instead of trying to learn all this at once…
Try this instead:
Practice these five notes:
The idea is to play these 5 notes forwards and backwards until you can play them from memory---without having to look at the page. 
You can still look at the guitar though. 

Once you can play these five notes from memory you can add an additional string or two.  This would make the five-note chunk
expand into eight notes.
Now practice these eight notes forwards and backwards until you’ve got them down.  Then you would repeat the process by adding
in the next string, etc.

The other option, which tends to be better for most people’s long-term memory is to learn the next chunk of the scale separately.
Play these six notes forwards and backwards until you've got them memorized.  Then practice chunks 1 and 2 together.
Next learn the final chunk.
Now combine the three chunks and you’ve got the entire scale fingering!  Depending on your skill level, you may perhaps find these
chunks to be too large.  If this is the case, learn the notes one string at a time.  If however, you find it ridiculously easy to learn the
scale in 2-string-chunks, then you can try it with three or more.  In later tutorials, we will look at additional accelerated learning
techniques you can use to learn scales.

The above lesson has been excerpted from The EDGE: CORE Beginner Guitar Lessons Volume 1.

To your guitar success,
Don J. MacLean

Don J. MacLean is one of the world's leading authorities on accelerated learning systems for guitar-with students using his methods in
more than 50 countries worldwide. Don is the author of over 60 books including The Ultimate Guitar EDGE; The World of Scales; the
Absolute Essentials of Music Theory for Guitar; How I Got Killer Guitar Chops While I Was Still in High School: Confessions of a High
School Shredder; 21 Secrets to Learn any Guitar Song Super-Fast; 7 Secrets to Learn any Guitar Chord Super-Fast; and Guitar
Essentials: Chord Master Expanded Edition.
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