Guitar teacher is frustrating me with endless boring scale practice and no songs or new things

nickgray

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I doubt you would ask Metallica to play a scale at a concert
Dude... you don't learn scales to literally play a scale up and down, nobody actually plays like that anyway.

You learn scales in order to recognize patterns more easily. Especially 3 notes per string scale patterns, because when you know them well enough you'll instantly recognize them in tons of melodies, licks, and so on.

Obviously, there needs to be a balance between learning boring mechanical stuff and actually playing or composing music. Likewise, you need to understand the big picture and how music theory is actually used, because if you literally only learn scales just to learn scales, then of course it would seem pointless, but that's just down to shit education.
 

sacguy71

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Dude... you don't learn scales to literally play a scale up and down, nobody actually plays like that anyway.

You learn scales in order to recognize patterns more easily. Especially 3 notes per string scale patterns, because when you know them well enough you'll instantly recognize them in tons of melodies, licks, and so on.

Obviously, there needs to be a balance between learning boring mechanical stuff and actually playing or composing music. Likewise, you need to understand the big picture and how music theory is actually used, because if you literally only learn scales just to learn scales, then of course it would seem pointless, but that's just down to shit education.

Well that is shit my teacher should be explaining!
 

Lemonbaby

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Simple. You pay him, so he literally works for you. If he can't clearly explain in three to five sentences why/how his method is the quickest way to achieve your goals, he's fired.
 

sacguy71

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I’ll ask in next lesson. Since I paid for month lesson will see what he says and teaches.
 

Deadpool_25

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This is an interesting thread. Scale exercises are important, as many here have said. However as a person with an educational (in the military) background, I'll say it's almost always vitally important for a teacher to give context about why something that seems mundane is important.

Someone mentioned The Karate Kid. Apropos. Mr. Myagi has Daniel doing exercises that seem ridiculous and don't seem connected to his desire to learn Karate. He's frustrated and goes off on his instructor who then puts those exercises into a Karate context. That's when it clicks for ol' Daniel-san: maybe these exercises aren't so stupid after all.

Without context the student can easily start to question the lessons. This questioning, and the lack of confidence that typically comes with it, reduce the student's ability/willingness to absorb the material.

This post is a textbook (pun intended) example of this. The teacher said something along the lines of, "these great players all did it." That might be enough for some people, not so much for others. Regardless, the fact that they did it only implies that it is important; it doesn't at all explain why it's important.

Knowing, more specifically understanding, why something is important makes it far more likely one will be willing to really focus on learning it.

Additionally, for most students, you really need to have a good feel for giving the student a good balance between work and fun (or be damned good at disguising work as fun).
 

sacguy71

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This is an interesting thread. Scale exercises are important, as many here have said. However as a person with an educational (in the military) background, I'll say it's almost always vitally important for a teacher to give context about why something that seems mundane is important.

Someone mentioned The Karate Kid. Apropos. Mr. Myagi has Daniel doing exercises that seem ridiculous and don't seem connected to his desire to learn Karate. He's frustrated and goes off on his instructor who then puts those exercises into a Karate context. That's when it clicks for ol' Daniel-san: maybe these exercises aren't so stupid after all.

Without context the student can easily start to question the lessons. This questioning, and the lack of confidence that typically comes with it, reduce the student's ability/willingness to absorb the material.

This post is a textbook (pun intended) example of this. The teacher said something along the lines of, "these great players all did it." That might be enough for some people, not so much for others. Regardless, the fact that they did it only implies that it is important; it doesn't at all explain why it's important.

Knowing, more specifically understanding, why something is important makes it far more likely one will be willing to really focus on learning it.

Additionally, for most students, you really need to have a good feel for giving the student a good balance between work and fun (or be damned good at disguising work as fun).

True indeed and I believe that exercises like learning scales and chords is vital for practice but needs to be balanced with context and learning new songs, riffs, and licks. My teacher did mention that we would learn new songs soon after we cover modes and diatonic patterns then move on to arpeggios and new stuff! He showed me some examples of metal solos and songs that use what we have been learning. I just got my new Yngwie Malmsteen Stratocaster guitar and a tab book of Yngwie's songs and see the correlation now to learning the scale sequences and metal songs.
 

bostjan

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I majored in physics at the university. For four years, my teachers taught me mathematics - all sorts of mathematics. At no point in time did we ever learn one principle of physics and then learn the mathematics of it afterward, only learn the mathematics, then, if you're lucky, a year later, learn the application for it. But it worked that way because the mathematics was the language used to describe the physics stuff. Without knowing the mathematics first, it wouldn't have made any sense.

A lot of students are like frustrated to learn a single piece of music theory. Hell, a lot of professionals at the top level don't care at all about theory, they just write cool riffs and play. But you are taking lessons. And you cannot teach someone how to just be a natural and write cool riffs and play, so, what you have to do, as a teacher, is teach your student the language you need to speak to them in order to get your ideas across - thus all of the monotonous scale practice. So when the teacher says "this song is in A major locrian" you won't have to pause for 20 minutes whilst your teacher explains what the hell that means.
 

thraxil

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I majored in physics at the university. For four years, my teachers taught me mathematics - all sorts of mathematics. At no point in time did we ever learn one principle of physics and then learn the mathematics of it afterward, only learn the mathematics, then, if you're lucky, a year later, learn the application for it. But it worked that way because the mathematics was the language used to describe the physics stuff. Without knowing the mathematics first, it wouldn't have made any sense.
I'm jealous. My physics classes were often the other way around or at least would only introduce mathematical concepts as a couple rules to apply without really understanding them. The big one for me was tensors. It was basically "here's some clever notation that will let you work with multidimensional matrices without having to write so much: just apply these rules for manipulating subscripts and superscripts and don't worry about how it works". But it was never explained in either my physics classes or math classes. By the time I graduated, I could *do* stuff with tensors but had no idea WTF a tensor actually *was*. I had to go back years later and work it out on my own. Probably a big part of why, after getting a Physics degree, I immediately switched over to computers...

Anyway, yeah, scales are super important. They're the structure that underpins pretty much everything else: chords, arpeggios, harmony, melody, etc. It's absolutely worth learning the major and minor scale patterns, how they relate to each other and the rest of modal structure and getting all of that pretty solid early on. It gives your mind a scaffold to attach everything else you learn to later on.

But learning that stuff doesn't necessarily require being able to play every 3 or 4 note per string pattern at 300 bpm. You should learn some scale-based exercises at the beginning of your journey and keep them as a part of your practice regimen for the rest of your life as a musician. But a teacher should also be giving them some actual musical context and helping a student understand how it's useful for their particular goals. Every minute you spend on scale-based exercises is a minute well spent in the long run. But it's a waste if you get so frustrated that you quit playing because you don't have the tools to apply those scale exercises to actual music.
 

wheresthefbomb

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Knowing, more specifically understanding, why something is important makes it far more likely one will be willing to really focus on learning it.

Anecdotally, this reminds me of learning to drive stick shift. I was teaching myself and really struggling, til my mechanic friend actually explained how everything worked in there, what the clutch was doing when I depressed it etc. Once I had that understanding and was able to conceptualize what was happening inside the car it just "clicked."

That was a very illuminating experience overall.
 

littlebadboy

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Coming from a 3rd world country and poor not being able to pay for lessons...

If you're bored with your teacher, learn how to play tabs. Pick a song. Learn it. Play it over and over until you can proficiently play along the song with ease. Then, move on to the next. Then, on to the next.

Then, go back and learn with a good teacher to learn theory and techniques to find out why your pieces were played that way, etc.
 

wheresthefbomb

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Coming from a 3rd world country and poor not being able to pay for lessons...

If you're bored with your teacher, learn how to play tabs. Pick a song. Learn it. Play it over and over until you can proficiently play along the song with ease. Then, move on to the next. Then, on to the next.

Then, go back and learn with a good teacher to learn theory and techniques to find out why your pieces were played that way, etc.

this is how I learned to play, minus the "going back to a good teacher" part hahaha. my HS friend's cousin summed me up thusly: "Forrest can play every song TOOL has ever written, really badly."
 

Emperoff

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First off you should consider wether you want to learn solos or not, because if that's not your thing you're gonna hate practicing something that you don't like. Maybe you might practice rythm patterns, chord progressions, or overall music theory instead. Now, if you do want to learn how to solo, at some point you're going to need to learn scales.

The problem I see with scales is that most exercises are the same ultraboring 3-note-per-string exercices at all positions, etc.

I'm gonna leave this here. These JTC methods are absolute gold and can't recommend them enough:

Major scale soloing:


Minor scale soloing:


The exercises are creative, they're not based in "positions" and they cover almost the whole fretboard. This means you will learn where the notes of the scale are, instead of "shapes" or "positions".

Each chapter also has a lot of very cool licks to learn and a solo that kinda sums them all up. Even the beginner licks are superb.
 

TonyFlyingSquirrel

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You don’t get accountability from YouTube. Only an instructor can give you that face to face as they inspect the nuances that you express. I’m friends with the teacher I had all through the 70’s and 80’s and his contribution to my playing can not be overstated. I think with the availability of info online, we’ve come to expect faster results and therefore we tend to under appreciate the value of an extended investment of time.
 

AMOS

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It's not going to hurt to receive instruction besides him. Find a shredder to teach you advanced technique while learning theory with someone else.
 

sacguy71

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It's not going to hurt to receive instruction besides him. Find a shredder to teach you advanced technique while learning theory with someone else.
True. I use videos online and guitar books as well as reading tab. I balance what he wants me to work on like scales with some new guitar tab songs.
 

washburned

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True indeed and I believe that exercises like learning scales and chords is vital for practice but needs to be balanced with context and learning new songs, riffs, and licks. My teacher did mention that we would learn new songs soon after we cover modes and diatonic patterns then move on to arpeggios and new stuff! He showed me some examples of metal solos and songs that use what we have been learning. I just got my new Yngwie Malmsteen Stratocaster guitar and a tab book of Yngwie's songs and see the correlation now to learning the scale sequences and metal songs.
This may help. Here's some diagrams I made for a friend (they're for drop d btw and arranged like tablature, should be easy to ignore low string and treat that relationship the same as you would for the first ADG strings if you play Standard). What it is, is the major scale which is what everything is based off of. The goal, is to be able to visualize each "scale degree" from every root note to start within one octave, vertically, and horizontally. This also cuts out note names for the most part, you can always learn those later. This is all about patterns, but in a way that cultivates freedom, not a mindless and boring 3 note per string mess

Scales, Chords, and Arpeggios are basically all the same thing, or at least highly related.

If you can do this it's a great basis for visualization and freedom on the fretboard, and you can start to modify the scale. For example flatten the 3 -- lower it a fret (1 2 b3 4 5 6 7) and you have melodic minor. Sharp the 4 -- raise it a fret (1 2 3 #4 5 6 7) and you have Lydian. Flatten 3 6 7 and you have natural minor, just flatten 3 and 6 and you have harmonic minor -- one of my personal favorites is Lydian #2 which is just 1 #2 3 #4 5 6 7

If you take this far enough you can easily construct chords in any position, and their inversions (this just means swapping the bass note for another member of the chord). You can also play any scale in any direction or position quite easily

Chord one: 1 3 5 7 (2 4 6 extensions, usually called 9, 11, 13 because they're an octave up, but I just stick with 2 4 6 in my head)
Chord two: 2 4 6 1 (3 5 7 extensions)
Chord three: 3 5 7 2 ( 4 6 1 extensions)
Cord four: 4 6 1 3 (5 7 2 extensions)
Chord five: 5 7 2 4 (6 1 3 extensions)
Chord six: 6 1 3 5 ( 7 2 4 extensions)
Chord seven: 7 2 4 6 (1 3 5 extensions)

There are no rules to how you learn this if you try this method. The goal is to get your visualization to a high level to construct things instantaneously.

I would explore certain scales or modes that you discover you like the sound of and work them into this framework if you decide to try it. I personally consider visualization a fundamental skill which if it's up to snuff, you can easily apply theory to as a vehicle. It also makes theory a lot more interesting when you can apply it. To top it off it will make it very easy to analyze songs you already know - the only sometimes tricky part is identifying the root note / tonic of a song, occasionally it is not clear.

At risk of rambling I find this method also makes it very easy to "borrow" chords or apply modal mixture, since all you have to do is modify a single scale degree to create something interesting or unexpected, or pivot.
 

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Drew

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true but everyone needs to work on technique even the masters
So, if they still have to work on it, what's the harm in your working on it?

I think the single most useful thing a teacher can provide is an objective outside opinion. If he thinks, even though you've covered these before in the past, that there are weaknesses in your technique here, then that itself is valuable knowledge. Did he tell you what exactly is weak? The timing? Picking/fretting hand coordination? Note memorization?

No harm in going back to the fundamentals every now and then if that's what helps you improve. I've been playing for damned near 30 years, and I STILL work on stuff like this.
 

sacguy71

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I am good with practice daily for improve my chops not complain about that. After I learn modes, will learn new 7 string songs soon. Looking at Misha he uses similar technical scale stuff too:

 


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