How well do you know your major scales?

June 3, 2008

Can you play them…

…in all twelve keys, smoothly and evenly, the full range of your instrument(s)?

…with a beautiful sound on each and every note, and each note right in tune?

…with poised, elegant phrasing?

…in eighth notes at quarter = 100? 120? 140? 160? How about eighth-note triplets? Sixteenths?

…all slurred? All tongued? In mixed articulation patterns?

…with a variety of dynamic nuances?

…in pairs of ascending thirds, up and down the scale? Descending thirds? Fourths? Fifths? Sixths? Sevenths? Octaves? (Ninths…) How about ascending and descending diatonic triads? How about adding sevenths (plus ninths…) to the triads?

…using all relevant combinations of alternate fingerings?

…while double- and triple-tonguing? While circular breathing? While standing on your head?

I’m going to go practice for a while. Tune in June, 2018 for a follow-up post, “Now let’s try minor scales.”


  1. Sarah

    This sounds exactly like a conversation I had with Kirk Macdonald ( the first time I met him.

    I attended an audition prep workshop that took place 6 weeks before auditions to Humber the first time I auditioned… in that workshop we got a 30 minute lesson with a prof from the school. The first thing he asked me is if I knew my major scales … I said yes … BIG mistake! HAHA … He went through that whole spiel you just listed.

    The crazy thing is … he CAN do all of that stuff and more on all his major scales (minor, bebop … you name it etc.)

    Guess it’s back to the practice module for me!


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