How to utilize the upper grades?

I’m currently experiencing a practise limbo, more on that soon.

Explaining where I’m coming from based on the three big categories of JG:

Finished everything practical up to Grade 5 ignoring Blues and Folk. Maybe I’ll take a look into Grade 6 with Funk and Jazz.
Music Theory Grade 5, 6, 7 are useful, but kinda redundant at this point.
Chords, Technique, Scales, …

So let’s say I know Barre Chords and all 5 patterns of the Major Scale.
I use that to make music. How? I modify the barre chords and play notes outside the major scale.

But doesn’t that combined with the freedom of just playing (songs) defeat the purpose of learning most of those following courses? Why would I learn the harmonic minor scale or a diminished scale, or remember all the notes in each major scale?

My issue is probably over-intellectualized, but I’m stuck finding a reason to go beyond the E, A barre and full major/minor scales when I just feel it out and experiment anyways?
There must be reason to go beyond this intermediate foundation, right?! :face_with_spiral_eyes:

By learning songs. Learning other peoples songs teaches you how songs are structured and how to put what you have learnt to good use.

1 Like

Makes sense to just not learn it until I need it, thanks! Was just curious of good reasons to need it.

The “How?” was a rhetorical question however - I answered that with “I modify the barre chords and play notes outside the major scale.”
Because I’m still wondering how I need those scales when I play outside (and am supposed to play) the Major all the time already. :thinking:

I suppose it all depends on the level of competency you wish to reach. Ie. What your goals are. Knowledge about a topic is the first tier of knowing. True competency and mastery is at the other end of the spectrum. So there’s lots of level in- between.

Your comments on scales are interesting. I see scales as a palette of notes, fluid rather than static and separate .It is of course good to know what notes are in a scale, and, crucially, the internal relationships. I think you then become more competent in selecting notes, sounds etc outside a particular scale to provide variety, contrast etc. And learning other scales like the harmonic minor etc, just gives you more tools in your back pocket. You can certainly make a lifetime of music without it.
In the end though, I think its all really about the chords, whether you’re playing rhythm or lead.

Cheers Shane


Hi Christoph,

I agree with @sclay Shane’s response - in particular about what your goals are.

At this point, I’m still in the Beginner stages working through Grade 3 BUT I know what I want to do with my particular guitar journey. I know where I want to be in the next 2 years & will work to learn whatever I have to in order to reach those goals. Once I’ve reached the top of my mountain, I have a feeling that the Vista before me will inspire me to go to the next mountain & climb it too!!! Realizing that this will take time & patience & perseverance, if I live long enough to get there (or arthritis doesn’t stop me), I’ll just keep on going!

Point being, do some soul searching & determine what’s the “Next Great Thing” that lights a fire under you & starts you on the road to achieve your personal inspiration!

Also, if you’re content with where you are now & don’t feel the need to add to your level of playing or knowledge, THAT’S OK TOO!!! It’s all about YOUR want, YOUR needs & YOUR goals.

Good luck & Godspeed in your musical travels, whichever way you decide to go.



Just sharing my experience… I had similar questions as you recently regarding scales and playing music. I feel like the Essential Blues Lead Guitar module is answering more questions in my head than the Major Scale Maestro one. Even though I didn’t listen to any blues before JustinGuitar, I feel like it’s a great vehicle to connect the dots in grade 4, 5,6 . And I even started the blues immersion course to get deeper because I’m confident that it will make me understand many things about music in general.

1 Like

Blues is a gateway drug and Justin is your dealer. :sunglasses:


:rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl:

Because The Blues underpins everything that followed. :wink:


Let’s hope I don’t kit the bucket from over dosing


Reminds me of the lyrics from a quadrophenia song

1 Like

I’m not sure which one you mean but now I have “the Punk and the Godfather” song running through my head! :upside_down_face:


Cut My Hair… I clean my room and my shoes…


The most that can happen is you’ll get a blister on your little finger or a blister on your thumb :call_me_hand:


but my mamma found a box of blues !