Back in March, I made a 31-Day Scale Challenge to ease some of the boredom of practicing scales. It was surprisingly popular and ended up being one of my most-read posts, so thank you to everyone that read it and sent in so much positive feedback! I am back today with another 31-Day Scale Challenge, this time with even more scales.
The Last Challenge
I created the last challenge by plugging 31 scales and the 12 possible root notes into a random list generator. Since I usually play three scales per practice session, I put three scales per day onto a blank calendar spreadsheet. You can see the original here.
The New Challenge
The concept for this challenge is the same as the last one: practice new, hopefully unfamiliar scales each day to develop intonation and knowledge of the fingerboard. The only difference is the number of scales: up from 31 to 52. The first 28 (and the last 3) are the same, but I added the modes of the Double Harmonic Major, Neapolitan Major, and Neapolitan Minor scales. Here's the entire list:
Ionian (Major Scale)
Aeolian (Minor Scale)
Lydian Augmented #2
Double Harmonic Major
Lydian #2 #6
Phrygian b4 bb7
Harm. Minor #4 (Hungarian Minor)
Mixolydian b2 b5
Ionian Augmented #2
Locrian bb3 bb7
Lydian Augmented #6
Lydian Augmented b7
Lydian Dominant b6
Locrian nat. 2 b4
After plugging everything into a random list generator and copying the results to a calendar, I got this:
I think mindlessly playing these scales on their own would defeat the purpose of the challenge. To that end, I suggest finding ways to make playing each scale an active process: use bowing variations (I like Strokin'); sing along, either in harmony or a note ahead; turn on a drone; experiment with different rhythms and subdivisions; try multiple fingerings; slur tetrachords; start the scale in reverse; etc. I usually don't do any of those things right away, but I always strive to internalize everything I play on multiple levels. Please let me know if you have any other practice suggestions!
If you want to create your own scale challenge, I included a blank calendar, a list of scales, and the PDFs of the first and second challenges in this folder. Here is a link to the list generator, too.
I also created a poster that has all the scales from the above list with their corresponding scale degrees. You can get one here if you are interested!
Did The Last Challenge Help Me?
As nerdy as it was, I do think the last challenge was beneficial. I felt the greatest improvement in thumb position where simply moving a half step or augmenting an interval can throw off your entire perception of pitch and note location. I consistently had to find new ways to maintain pitch and resonance as the usual landmarks became less relevant with the increasing number of chromatic alterations. Arguably I could have done the same work with conventional practice routines, but this was much more fun. I look forward to doing the same work with this challenge too!
I haven't written much (besides analysis papers) this summer so I will be getting back into a regular posting schedule soon. If you try this challenge or want to give feedback please let me know, either in the comments or through the contact section! Don't forget to subscribe if you haven't already!
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