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A Practical Approach to Exploring Scales

PUBLISHED: Jul 16, 2013 UPDATED: Dec 21, 2019VIEWS: 33 • LESSON CODE: UL04p

Instruments: ukulele Subjects: beginneradvancedintermediateintervalsscales

A Practical Approach to Exploring Scales

On ukulele there aren't many positions where you can play a one octave scale from the root to octave. An instrument like the guitar with the additional lower strings five and six allows one to play a one octave scale in multiple positions in the basic 4-fret, 4-finger position. On ukulele there might be one or two depending on the scale and the key - and whether your using a low string four tuning.

Here are a few ways to practice all your scales. Ideally you should be able to play any phrase, list, riff or melody from ANY starting finger, in any octave and on any string. This is a lot of work and a long term goal well worth the effort.

  • Ascending lowest note to highest note of the scale position. This is where knowing the notes of the fingerboard really comes in handy.
  • Descending highest note to lowest note.
  • Vary the rhythm with long and short notes.
  • Explore in ALL 15 keys. There are no common keys for scales, scales can start on any root - any key.
  • Explore the most common intervals of 2nds, 3rds and 6ths. And, ultimately all intervals.

Every Finger, Every String

Getting your fingers to behave and follow your inner ear and mind is a lot like trying to heard cats - They just don't like to cooperate and do as they are told. It takes o lost of patience and determination.

Most players, like myself typically didn't play all my melodies, scales, licks or riffs from ANY starting finger on any string. Not that we didn't see the value in being able to do that - it just seemed like a lot of work. This is especially true for guitar with six strings. And in my case as a seven string player, seven strings – HOWEVER, I did do all of this. With the ukulele it's only three or four strings and a lot less work. At least do it with melodies - there is a lot of value in this. All we are doing is reinforcing the inner ear to hands connection.

Frank Vignola says: Learn 200 songs - the melodies and you have no problem learning to improvise.

Finally you need to be able to play starting on any note, on any string and starting on any finger. This is where my book The Six Secrets of Ukulele Fingering comes into play. It's more of an exploration and discover and NOT the memorizing of any additional new patterns. It's navigating the various possible pathways available on the fingerboard that really open up the fingerboard.

Think of fingering as a series of pathways. When you learn to connect these pathways, there are benefits not only to technique but also to creativity. All fingering on the ukulele can be reduced to 6 principles of motion. Each principle has physical and musical characteristics that you can use to improve your playing.

End of Lesson - Thanks, Hope You Enjoyed It!

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Six Essential Scales for `Ukulele • Updated: Apr 3, 2020

The six essential scales are: Blues Major Pentatonic Mixolydian Dorian Aeolian and Ionian From the six essential scales, you can get through a wide variety of traditional and contemporary music. A scale is simply a collection of pitches or notes, not really a "this is a Jazz scale", "this is a Blues" or "this is a Rock scale". It's how a scale is used that really matters not its name.

Essential Jazz Scales for `Ukulele • Updated: Apr 6, 2020

After you mastering the six essentials scales below and start to explore more advanced styles of music, especially jazz. There are a few more scales that are needed to cover the broader harmonic palette that a typical jazz tune draws from.

Which Way Is Up? - Up, Down, Ascending, Descending, etc... • Updated: Jun 11, 2019

Just what is "Up, Down, Ascending, Descending, Higher, Lower, Top, Bottom" as related to music?

Practice Cycles and Sequences • Updated: Mar 27, 2017

Sequences and cycles for practicing scales, intervals, melodic sequences and arpeggios.

These sequences also help in learning where any interval is of a given note, the chord tones of chords and aides in memorizing scales.

Six Essential Scales for `Ukulele - Pentatonic Scale Five Position Summaries • Updated: Mar 18, 2014

The five pentatonic scale positions - a summary.

This is the first steps for most players in learning the pentatonic scales in various positions on the neck.

The next step is to connect these five positions with various pathways. This is best accomplished using the principles from the book, Six Secrets of Ukulele Fingering.

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Daily Practice Material for the Contemporary Ukulele
Updated: Nov 20, 2019

An organized collection of daily practice and reference material for the contemporary ukulele player. This material can be used to develop the vocabulary and knowledge necessary for single note playing. Material includes: Scales, Intervals, Arpeggios and Sequences, the source material for improvisation.

Six Secrets of Ukulele Fingering
Updated: Dec 22, 2020

Learn the six fingering principles to navigating the ukulele fingerboard. Fingering is one of the most universal topics. Whether your style is Rock, Blues, Country, Jazz or Classical, these principles will improve your technique, your solos, even your sight reading. Think of fingering as a series of pathways. When you learn to connect these pathways, there are benefits not only to technique but also to creativity.

QuickStart Scale Fingerings for Ukulele, Volume I, C Tuning
Updated: Jun 24, 2006

Learn to create exciting solos in a variety of contemporary styles! Scales are used to improvise, create melodies and riffs. With a broad knowledge of the essential scales that are used in contemporary music and a mastery of the ukulele's fingerboard and fingering principles you're well on your way.

Related Lesson Series

Related Lessons Series for A Practical Approach to Exploring Scales at this time.

Six Essential Ukulele Scales Updated: Jan 1, 2003

The "Six Essential Ukulele Scales" series is based on the fingering principles from my series of books in the "QuickStart Scale and Arpeggio Fingerings" series.

Related Lesson Files, Resources and Assets

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Six Secrets of Ukulele Fingering - Scale Worksheet Updated: Dec 31, 2016

Scale fingering chart worksheet for exploring multiple and alternate pathways through a scale.

Ukulele Fingerboard Chart for C Tuning, Low or High G Updated: May 11, 2019

Ukulele Fingerboard Chart for C Tuning, Low or High G. Shows natural, sharp and flat notes for the ukulele fingerboard. This tuning can be used on a soprano, concert, tenor and baritone ukuleles.

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