I've been tinkering with the mandolin for some time and have played guitar for many years (classical, jazz, rock). I very recently started working my want through Marilynn Mair's "The complete mandolinist." Much of that is studies and scales that forces what seem like good behaviors (better right hand technique along with using/learning the complete fret board).
Having spent some time with the scales, I've found that its getting much easier to do things like transpose melodies and find alternate fingerings that keep me from turning my left hand into a pretzel. For me, the time spent on scales is a great way to focus on learning the basics, which makes playing actual tunes that much more enjoyable. Effortless would be a reach (a huge reach!), but certainly its reducing the effort required to do interesting things while playing songs.
Andres Segovia"The student who wishes to acquire a firm technique on the guitar should not neglect the patient study of scales. If he practices them two hours a day, he will correct faulty hand position, gradually increase the strength of the fingers, and prepare the joints for later speed studies. Thanks to the independence and elasticity which the fingers develop through the study of scales, the student will soon acquire a quality which is very difficult to gain later: physical beauty of sound…In order to derive the greatest possible benefit from the following exercise, play them slowly and vigorously at first, more lightly and rapidly later. Many hours or arduous and frequently futile exercise can be condensed into one hour of scales. The practice of scales enables one to solve a greater number of technical problems in a shorter time than any other exercise."
Preface to the booklet “Diatonic Major and Minor Scales”
I worked from this folio (Andres Segovia “Diatonic Major and Minor Scales”) assiduously for years--it was my primary practice material--and did the two-hours-per-day thing for some years. In classical study, technical exercises are simply part of the game
I later started playing bass--which is of course predicated on scales--and all this work was well employed again
Needless to say, I've done lots of scale study, so I'm biased here for sure. If one is seeking encouragement (I guess that's what this is about?), I can tell you that practicing scales (and all their varieties) is fundamental--if what you want is a comprehensive fingerboard/harmonic approach
Oh, I should say that--the 2-hours-a-day of course is somewhat extreme, so don't let that make you think that 2-hours/day is necessary for scale study...it just happens to be about how long it takes to get through the materials referenced above in the prescribed manner... Any and all scale study is good
Last edited by catmandu2; Sep-26-2012 at 12:40pm.
I think one important point about scales is "don't always play them in a
linear sequential way". By this I mean don't play: do re mi fa
so la ti do and straight back down the scale. Practicing that way isn't
musical, and the sound will work itself into your playing.
"Danger Will Robinson! Danger!" :^)
I think its better to play scalar patterns. If do=1 & re=2 etc
then play 13243546, 321432543654, 1324324354
867756645534 plus add rests now and then to make
the phrases flow more like language, and less like a machine.
Although it sounds overly simplistic and perhaps too mindless for those of us inclined towards music theory, I found that I made most progress by:
1. Learning the major scale using no open strings and starting with my index finger on the root.
2. Then trying to play melodies that I hear, while keeping my index finger on that root note.
3. Moving the index finger from the root note only to the adjacent strings (but on same fret) only when needed to continure the melody I am playing.
Once playing melodies starts to become second nature, increasing the movement to include nearby double stops or arpeggios.
Seems very simplistic and non-theoretical, but if you also start to notice which scale note is useful as you play the melody, the theory start to make sense and become more helpful too.
E.g. hitting the 2-note when the chord progression is using the V chord happens a lot. Or noticing that the root note sounds good when the chord progression is on the IV chord, etc.
Also knowing that a minor sound might use the flat-3 note and bluesy sounds need the flat-7 note.
Hope this makes sense and is helpful; at least a little.
This is part of what some people call "playing out of the box".
Later you can expand by doing the same thing, but with the root under your middle, ring, or pinky finger.
“Sharps/Flats” ≠ “Accidentals”