I've been in the practice room a lot lately and as I'm always trying to reinvent the wheel from a pedagogy came up with a new thought as far as scales for folks who have been playing them for years.
Let me add the disclaimer before proceeding. I think most folks should play through all twelve major keys (as well as their relative minors) as often as possible; preferably daily. What I'm discussing here is for folks who want to get a little more in depth with their buddies in the scale world.
Here's what has been going through my mind. A cycle here will take three months but really get folks deeply immersed in the scale world.
You'll need- A tuner, a metronome, and a copy of Ferling's 48 Famous Studies.
Here's the plan:
Each week is going to be centered around one key. You'll be doing a combo of scales, arpeggios, scale variations, and two Ferling Studies. The great thing about Ferling is that the etudes are laid out by key and it makes this simple. Ferling is also cool in that even though there is a suggested tempo for each etude, they are generally written in a fashion that allows for a great deal of interpretation and allows for a ton of cool musical decisions.
Here's what I would suggest each day for a week. Set daily and weekly tempo goals for the scales. You may also decide the range of the scale.
First up- Arpeggios. I would perform Major, Minor, Dim7. Do them slowly, like long tones, with the tuner set to drone on the tonic. Listen.....REALLY listen.
Next is scales. Remember when I used terms like 'immersed' and 'in depth'? Yeah, I wasn't kidding.
- Relative Natural Minor
- Relative Harmonic Minor
- Relative Melodic Minor
- Major Thirds
- Harmonic Minor Thirds
- Melodic Minor Thirds
- Pentatonic (starting on tonic of major key)
- Blues (starting on tonic of major key)
- Whole Tone (starting on tonic of major key)
- Octatonic (starting on tonic of major key)
(Optional, you can add scales in 4ths, 5ths, sixths, modes, whatever else if you have time or are so inclined.)
Following the scales you'd work on the two Ferling studies. They tend to be one etude in the major key and one in the relative minor.
So yeah, this is a fairly high volume of work.....but is it really? I've listed eleven scales and two etudes to work daily. The point here isn't necessarily to get the scales at 154 and etudes at 130 by the end of the week. Rather, it's to give your ear and fingers time to learn together on what the key really means on the horn. Yes, you want to be able to increase tempo each day but increase is a very relative term and progress is progress.
Jazz guys, yes, the Ferlings have benefit for y'all as well. Etudes are useful for anyone wanting to improve facility on their instrument.
Let me know your thoughts. Give it a try. See what you think.
SECOND Disclaimer- If you struggle to get through your twelve major scales, have never attempted scales in thirds, or don't know the terms 'natural, harmonic, and melodic' in reference to minor scales....let alone terms like 'whole tone' and 'octatonic'...Perhaps you should bone up on those before trying this practice regimen.
Set the metronome.....