Using The Chromatic Scale
For Warm up, Practice, Speed, and Accuracy!
Once you understand the chromatic scale, you can begin to use it to warm up or as an effective practice tool. If you practice it regularly, this simple scale can increase your speed and accuracy.
What it is
Simply put, you create chromatic scales any time you play a series of notes located on adjacent frets.
More technically, this type of scale includes 12 semi-tones (a semi-tone is a half-step, which is the same as one fret on a guitar).
The Virginia Tech Department of Music defines it as "A scale which divides the octave into its semi-tones. There are twelve semi-tones, or half steps, to an octave in the chromatic scale."
For our purposes, when played on a guitar you might re-write this definition as follows: A sequence of twelve notes, played on adjacent frets. You can also play these twelve notes on adjacent strings, as long as you play the same 12 notes.
If these definitions are not clear, don't worry, you will see a great example in a moment.
Uses To Improve Warm up, Practice Efficiency, Accuracy, and Speed Training
Our friends at Wayne's World of Music frequently video tape snippets of lessons. Their students can then review the video from home. Video is a great tool for any guitar instruction studio. As a continuing student myself, I find that I forget about half of the lesson between the time I leave the studio and the time I sit down for my next practice. Having a short video to review the material is invaluable to me.
One of the videos Wayne & John produced recently walks the student through this exercise. As you view the video, notice the following points:
- Your speed and accuracy are improved when you think ahead and keep you fingertips near the fret they will be moving to for the next note. This takes time, but will really improve your speed over time.
- Take your time to get it right. Slow and right is much better than fast and wrong.
- Take the time to sync your left and right hand to avoid problems when you need to speed up.
- Remember to pick up/down, and make it your goal to have your downstroke and upstroke sound as similar as possible.
- Note that the fingering when you move to the B string changes, because the B string is tuned a third higher than the G string, while all the other strings are tuned a forth above the previous string.
- Playing the chromatic scale in first position (as John does in the video) can really stretch out your fingers. If you need to move up the fretboard to fifth or seventh fret (for example) until you can play smoothly, then move back to the first position.
- Try varying picking: pluck 1 time per note, then 2 times per note, then four. Next increase your speed and pluck four times per note, then two, and then one at the same (fast) speed.
- Finally, make sure that you tune up before you practice!
Enjoy the video!