Major Scale: What’s the point?

Been practicing the major scale (G) patterns for a few months now and I am having trouble understanding what the end goal is supposed to be. Is there an “ah ha” moment I need to hold out for or is this just something that I am subconsciously benefiting from by practicing daily? It’s not even much fun to play over tunes as it just sounds like a boring scale. I feel like maybe I am missing a piece to the puzzle somewhere so I would be grateful for any pointers. I only get about an hour a day to practice so I just want to make sure it doesn’t need to be swapped out for another exercise. Thanks!

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Was there a particular reason why you started learning it? Then the reason is your goal.

There’s definitely side benefits to playing scales:

  • finger dexterity
  • fretting and picking hands coordination (I guess this could go hand in hand with gaining speed as well)
  • familiarity with the notes on the fretboard

I see you said it’s not fun playing over tunes because it sounds like a boring scale. Well, of course it sounds like a boring scale because you’re playing a scale haha! I assume by now you have quite a good grasp of where the scale notes are. Try playing it in intervals (Justin has a lesson on playing it in thirds, but I would go even further. After you master thirds, play it in fourths, fifths, sixths and sevenths, you might want to even try octaves. At least that’s what I do. The reason why I do it is to connect my “musical imagination” (I think that’s how Justin calls it) with the fingers. So if I then imagine (or try to hum along) a melodic line to play over a tune, fingers sort of know where to go.

I guess Justin’s whole chapter on major scale can be helpful as well:

But remember - practice what you need for the songs you’re working on (or songs you want to work on in the future, or genre of music you want to write, etc.), not what you think you should be practicing. Yes, there are core things, but is it of any use to be able to play first position of the major scale 16th notes at 200 BPM if you can’t play an actual song using it?

Thanks. Why am I practicing it? Because it is what came next in Justin’s course. You just posted it in this thread as well lol. Thank you for reminding me that it is a scale haha! I’ll continue to chip away!

The end goal of learning the scale is to use it as a palette to make music. The patterns, while important to learn, are incidental. Its the scale that you want to learn - the sound, intervals, interval relationships etc.

My 2 cents? Once you can play the scale up and down at a reasonable click without really thinking about it, then stop doing this.
Get musical with it. As suggested elsewhere, play it in 3rds, 5th, 3 in a line, etc. Make up some melodies. Do some basic improvising with it. Its about playing around with all those intervals to make music with
All this will help to really ingrain the scale as a musical unit, rather than just a pattern on the fretboard.

You will also find that the better you ingrain the major scale like this, the better will be your learning with all the pentatonics, the minor scale etc. It all derives from the major scale.
Looking back, I am now starting to really appreciate Justin’s wisdom in teaching the Major scale first, and placing such importance on it. Many other teachers put the pentatonic front and centre first, which I think is a mistake; even though you can get ‘cooler’ somewhat quicker with it - in the short term.
From scales, simpke chords, barre chords, triads, arpeggios etc. It all comes from that Major scale framework.
As Justin Guitar students, I think we have benefitted greatly by this approach.

Cheers, Shane


+1 on this, and the sooner the better.

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Its a scale. Its not music itself , if you are at the major scale lessons you are seemingly missing the lessons on improvisation like these.

We all know playing up and down scales is boring. But scales are a framework to work within

Thank you! No I did not miss those lessons. Been doing the one finger solos for months now hence the boring comment haha. I’ll keep up with it!