Tipsy Tuesday: Scales just got tastier

Does anyone over the age of 21 still chow down on PB&Js?  Unfortunately, I can’t eat those economical, convenient sandwiches anymore–it’s missing an element…  I suppose I could substitute jelly for fresh fruit.  Sliced bananas, anyone?

Similar to sandwiches, everyone reaches a point where practicing lacks the tastiness we once enjoyed as newbies.  What you’re learning is important but after a while, you reach a point where you crave something new and refreshing.  Let me assure you this is normal and if you haven’t experienced this yet… trust me, you will eventually.  Not to sound jaded or anything, but… The excitement of learning guitar (for the first time) wears off; however, your interest doesn’t (or shouldn’t).  It feels much different: balanced, mature and stable, unlike my short term PB&J cravings that skyrocket then drop as fast as a sugar rush.

With that being said, please welcome my new weekly series, Tipsy Tuesday.  Every Tuesday, I will share tips and/or ideas to add a fun element to your practice routine.

Listed below are my personal suggestions to add flavor to a bland practice routine-scales, in particular:

  1. When playing a scale forward/backwards use hammer ons, hammer offs, bends etc.  Typically, I do hammer offs as I play down the scale, then hammer ons on the way up, then switch.
  2. Do you like to sing or want to improve your voice? Sing as you play scales.  No, not an actual song, just “ahh” like you’re at the doctor getting your throat inspected.  Does it not feel natural? How about “ooo?” Or try whatever sound feels most comfortable to you.  This helps you hear tones and strengthen your singing voice.  If a scale is too high, either move down the neck or stay put and try to do harmonies.  One of my favorite jazz musicians did this while studying at Berklee College of Music –Esperanza Spalding.
  3. Backing tracks!  If you’re familiar with your fretboard then start soloing over a backing track.  Start slow and keep it simple.  Spruce it up with hammer ons, hammer offs, bends, and vibrato.

    Warning: The following are dangerously addicting E minor backing tracksJimi Hendrix
    Pop Rock
    12 Bar Blues

Image curtesy of Rawich /

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