beginner forum: for novice and developing blues harp players > Scale exercise
Scale exercise
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SuperBee
6159 posts
Sep 11, 2019
5:54 AM
I was thinking about Fil’s ‘Route 19’ thread, and more generally the topic of exercises and how they help learning to play.

I think I’ve mentioned some exercises using scales. One I got from Lee Sankey; recently and memorably, that is. I’m almost certain I had heard it or heard it described more than once before.
It’s the exercise based on the major scale of whichever major key diatonic you have handy.

It’s a multi function exercise, which teaches movement, it teaches structure, it teaches breath control and also helps teach relative pitch. I guess it also helps with bending just through making use of a couple.

It’s quite a simple exercise.

I made the mistake early on of combining it and doing stage 4 right from the start and not really doing stage 1,2 & 3 as separate exercises. I think I denied myself some development that way.

The exercise is based on playing a major scale in 3 octaves.

Stage 1 is in the middle. Start on 4 blow and +4, 4, +5, +4

That is the pattern; 3 consecutive notes incrementally higher in pitch followed by a 4th note which is the same pitch you started on. The next sequence begins on the second note in the scale, and so on

In Sol-fa it sounds like
Do re mi do
Re mi fa re
Mi fa sol mi
Fa sol la fa
Sol la ti sol
La ti do la
Ti do re ti
Do


In the middle of the harp

+4 4 +5 +4
4 +5 5 4
+5 5 +6 +5
5 +6 6 5
+6 6 7 +6
6 7 +7 6
7 +7 8 7
+7
Then back down
+7 7 6 +7
7 6 +6 7
6 +6 5 6
+6 5 +5 +6
5 +5 4 5
+5 4 +4 +5
4 +4 3 4
+4

That’s the beginning exercise. No bends and straight forward on any major diatonic harp. Navigates around the 6-7 pattern change, introduces the beginning of the high end and teaches what the notes sound like in relation to each other, so when you shift octaves you know what it’s supposed to sound like.
I don’t know which way to move next, but once you have the middle going well try the high or low end.
The low end requires whole step bends on draw 2 and 3. You’ll hear whether you’re in tune.
High end requires the +10”

When you can play the exercise fluently in each of 2 octaves, try running them together. But practice them both separately too.

Same goes for the 3rd octave. When you can do them all fluently, try going end to end.

Try practicing with a metronome too. Focusing on the beat will give your brain something else to do and stimulate it to commit the movements to memory.

This might seem like a dumb exercise but it really has a lot going on in terms of basic musicality. I think it takes a while to see the benefits but if you do it and do it regularly for a while, come back to it fairly often, you’ll start to notice changes.

If you’re a person who is new to music, you’ll probably gain the most but even if you’re familiar with scales and have good ears already you’ll still get the movement and mapping benefits.

Ok, that’s the first exercise.
I hope someone gets into it for a couple weeks, just a few minutes a day. Htm
Fil
444 posts
Sep 11, 2019
5:25 PM
This is a good one. I’ve been doing it for a while, and sometimes when noodling around will break into it without really thinking about it. All three octaves. Still occasionally stumble a bit on the low octave, but it has been great practice for hitting low bends directly as single notes, using the upper octaves as references for pitch. And that 6-7 transition and blow/draw pattern change on up....Yes, this is worth some time.
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Phil Pennington


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