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Help with a student - The big bad Pentatonic Scale

Warren Hunt (5730)

Guitar Theory Forum · 6/17/2010 1:50 AM
Hi folks,

I am having a problem with a student. For some reason he is unable to see that scales (in this case the Pentatonic) can have both major and minor with the same patterns.

I am teaching him the E minor Pentatonic scale and showed him that G Major is also the same pattern and you can get the same chords from both scales, blah blah blah (you know the theory). And no I dont say blah blah blah to my students.

He just cant or wont accept this is possible. I have never had anyone find this theory so difficult before and am at a loss on how to move forward with him. We have been working at this for 3 weeks. He is only able to see that E minor is E minor and that G Major is G Major. He can see the chord shapes in the boxes, but cant see that they can be related. I think he wants a Pentatonic divorce.

I dont want to see him loose interest due to a tiny bit of theory, but scales mean just so much as a foundation.
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Re: Help with a student - The big bad Pentatonic Scale

6/17/2010 3:28 AM

Craig Lindsey (5518) wrote:

Well Warren, I am no theorist like a Jon O'Reilly et. al.
But if he jams over the Gmaj or Emin, can he hear that the scale works?
Maybe it is the idea of labeling the scales as such. It is, after all, not the be all to end all.
Maybe just to have him trust his ear, while playing the 2 against each other?

Sure I was little help, but some people resist the very idea of naming certain scales. We know its done for ease of explanation, but nothing is written in stone.

Good seein' ya CL



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Re: Help with a student - The big bad Pentatonic Scale

6/17/2010 8:26 AM

Ken Richardson (9051) wrote:

You could show him the key signatures on paper - if you think he is inclined to "get it" that way.

If that works, show him C major and A minor as well! That will help reinforce the value of what you are doing with this lesson and info.


My first blush was for both of you to take turns jamming/improvising over different chords using the Em pent. box / scale to hear it being used.





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Re: Help with a student - The big bad Pentatonic Scale

6/17/2010 12:20 PM

Warren Hunt (5730) wrote:

we did the keys on paper and the scales over their respective chords. He just cant understand how you can have a relationship between them. arhhhhhh not enough practice I think.

We even tried the "row row your boat" thing, where he started on Em and then I started on Gm after his first 4 beats, so that we were on the same notes and still he cant see it.



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Re: Help with a student - The big bad Pentatonic Scale

6/17/2010 12:25 PM

Warren Hunt (5730) wrote:

I think his brain could be stone!



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Re: Help with a student - The big bad Pentatonic Scale

6/17/2010 12:34 PM

Randy Hano (12149) wrote:

If his head were stone, Pink Floyd's "Wish you were here" is the wrong song - lol - Pink Floyd's "Dogs" would be better....

"Dragged down by the Stone!!!!" - LMAO - sorry Warren - couldn't help.



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Re: Help with a student - The big bad Pentatonic Scale

6/17/2010 6:38 PM

Warren Hunt (5730) wrote:

Thats a good one bro. I did not think about that but am lmao now.



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Re: Help with a student - The big bad Pentatonic Scale

6/17/2010 9:52 PM

Matt Wood (2844) wrote:

hey warren

he needs to understand music is not just about the notes . Its about resolution . the note that feels like home



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Re: Help with a student - The big bad Pentatonic Scale

6/18/2010 3:24 PM

Warren Hunt (5730) wrote:

Matt, this is where we are headed from. This is the first student in 30 years I have had this sort of trouble with.

After they learn the CAGDE system and they movements, I start them on scales and modes in a very basic way, leading to some songs. This is all done well well well after they learn to read music staves, tab etc.

With the young ones I play a game where they get points. I called it "spot the note" by tapping a pointer onto a score. When they get 10 correct in a row they get to keep their points or "cash" them in. For 10 points they get a pack of picks etc. For 100 points I will give them a music book or a strap etc. I had one young girl who got enough points for a Squire pack (glad that dont happen too often as I loose out).

I am really beginning to believe its a communications problem backed up by not enough practice, so I am going to have a talk to his mum next time she drops him off and work on another approach for me.

I ask the parents to give at least 15 minutes 6 days a week help in the first 6 months. I dont think thats too much to ask for.



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Re: Help with a student - The big bad Pentatonic Scale

6/18/2010 4:57 PM

Randy Hano (12149) wrote:

Nice system Warren for points! As for practice, I asked for 30 minutes min.





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Re: Help with a student - The big bad Pentatonic Scale

6/18/2010 10:03 PM

Warren Hunt (5730) wrote:

Brother Randy, I ask for 30 - 45 minutes from my students. Its the parents ask at the very least give some 15 minutes time to listen or help. I would prefer more, but you cant make someone listen to their kid torcher a cat all day!

Just thinking. I usually play up to 10 - 15 hours a day. What about you?





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Re: Help with a student - The big bad Pentatonic Scale

6/19/2010 2:24 PM

Chris Pinto (24466) wrote:

I'm lucky if I play for 10 minutes per night!

Chris







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Re: Help with a student - The big bad Pentatonic Scale

6/20/2010 6:32 AM

Warren Hunt (5730) wrote:

Chris, I have said it before and I will say it again, divorce was great for me brother.

I can do what I want when I want, buy what I want when the budget allows and play all day long with out a winging nagging woman in my ear.

Oh no, now all the lovely female WN'ers are going to come down on me. I mean no offence to other women out there, just to my x dragon.









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Re: Help with a student - The big bad Pentatonic Scale

6/20/2010 2:53 PM

Dave Magaro (1726) wrote:

That's why I never got married! It's the leading cause of divorce!

: )

Dave











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Re: Help with a student - The big bad Pentatonic Scale

6/20/2010 5:24 PM

Warren Hunt (5730) wrote:

I agree with you 100% bro. Its also the major cause in men dying just because they want too.











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Re: Help with a student - The big bad Pentatonic Scale

6/21/2010 12:29 PM

Ken Richardson (9051) wrote:

The stats don't lie... all those divorces had a marriage in there somewhere!











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Re: Help with a student - The big bad Pentatonic Scale

6/21/2010 2:15 PM

Randy Hano (12149) wrote:

It always cracks me up when I hear the statement - The number one reason for divorce is marraige - no duh....lmao.









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Re: Help with a student - The big bad Pentatonic Scale

6/21/2010 4:22 PM

Chris Pinto (24466) wrote:

Well, I'm not married either, however, between coming home late from work every night, trying to find time to eat, work-out for a bit, etc etc...By the time I'm done with all that, it's like 11:00 PM.

Now, I'm trying to find a 2nd job just to pay my friggin' bills....

Man, life can suck sometimes. hehe







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Re: Help with a student - The big bad Pentatonic Scale

6/20/2010 5:45 PM

Alfred Scoggins (5193) wrote:

Let your student keep them separate then. No need to force it. One day he'll say 'Oh look, it's the same notes, innit?' :)





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Re: Help with a student - The big bad Pentatonic Scale

6/19/2010 8:26 PM

Randy Hano (12149) wrote:

I wish I could get that much time in brother Warren - I average about an hour a day with the instrument physically in my hand. Some days maybe 3 while others none. In the old days when I taught and played performed 6 days a week, I got 5-6 hours a day. When I was studying to improve: 8-10 hours a day.

I do a lot of mental training now since I do not have a guitar in my hand at work. What I do is alot of active listening. During active listening I mentally train myself in scales and harmony by doing creative visualization. My greatest place for active listening is when I am driving since traffic on the local freeway is either smooth or the biggest pain in the ass. If you do this, playing and learning songs are much easier than playing and rewinding tapes or cd's. Driving in LA accounts for 60 - 90 minutes a day just commuting to and from work.





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Re: Help with a student - The big bad Pentatonic Scale

6/20/2010 6:26 AM

Warren Hunt (5730) wrote:

Brother Randy, a recent study found that the brain in musicians who do mental tasks like you mentioned grows the same amount as if they were doing the task on their instrument, so your really doing yourself a good deed and getting to work at the same time. Good one!





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Re: Help with a student - The big bad Pentatonic Scale

6/20/2010 3:21 PM

Randy Hano (12149) wrote:

Creative visualization is awesome bro. It really helps the inner soul meet with the external body - Great stuff brother!!!





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Re: Help with a student - The big bad Pentatonic Scale

6/20/2010 5:28 PM

Warren Hunt (5730) wrote:

That's basically how I learned the notes of the fretboard, along with playing and finding notes on the guitar.

I had a hugh chart (about 2 meters long) of the fretboard of my wall and would run over it every time I had a chance and just before bed etc.






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Re: Help with a student - The big bad Pentatonic Scale

6/21/2010 10:32 AM

Randy Hano (12149) wrote:

Nice! I learned my fretboard a little differently. I use shapes. Everyone here and other places call it "CAGED", I called it forms as lessons from old Guitar Player magazines (70's) had lesson from Howard Roberts and Arnie Berle calling them forms. With the five basic octave shapes I learned my location of the notes on the guitar as well as chord locations. To improve my speed, I would call out a note and find all of the notes using the chord shape form.

I have also gone so far to listen to the harmonic differences on how each note sounds. Especially the ones that are exactly the same pitch but played in different places. The quality of the note influences how I want the timbre of the note to be executed. Unfortunately the same goes for scales and modes as well but this one is ever going as it is a extremely long study.

Yes I have a life....lol.





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Re: Help with a student - The big bad Pentatonic Scale

6/22/2010 4:18 AM

Warren Hunt (5730) wrote:

Randy,

I remember them being called forms too before the CAGED System became the name.

Its interesting you mention how you listened to the notes in different positions to find the harmonic difference. Its one thing thats very hard to teach and for me only came about by really listening.





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Re: Help with a student - The big bad Pentatonic Scale

6/22/2010 10:12 AM

Randy Hano (12149) wrote:

Call me an old fart but I still like the term "form". Unfortunately published material from the past did not keep the "Form" term consistant. Therefore "CAGED" does keep everything uniform and cannot be differentiated.

Yeah timbre can change the way one thinks when playing passages. Playing on the higher frets of strings 3 and 4 can make tones warmer as opposed to playing the same notes on strings 1 and 2.

Another chaotic moment are string guages. In my youth Extra Light Sets (.009) made string bending easy but you lost the umph or the tone. I remember even trying Ultra Light (.008) in my young days as an experiment as well. Well today I am an avid user of Light gauge strings (.010) and have tried even the Medium guage(.011) to get a thicker sound. My finger could last but would have loved to work at it. I just don't perform and play enough to justify that work.

After all we are always seeking what we perceive as the ultimate tone!





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Re: Help with a student - The big bad Pentatonic Scale

6/22/2010 10:52 AM

Ken Richardson (9051) wrote:

I like 0.010s on electric and usually use 0.012s on the acoustic.

I learned the open string notes, the basic chords and first position notes first. Then I learned the E string notes.

From there I learned my G bar chord notes and scale at fret 3, then the G notes and chords in the next 2 postions. So in a way I learned started using CAGED, but started at G E D.

After that I picked up on the C scale in those positions, then onto D chords and scales. I think I learned an A minor pattern then too at fret 5.
Much of this was in a book by Tom Wheeler that I got at the library.
Not long after that I got a book with a soundsheet recording, and it used the keys of G and A minor in some 12 bar blues to teach you to improvise. That book showed the pentatonic scale patterns, which I had already stumbled onto in some way trying to mimic AC/DC.

I do recall some of this stuff seeming a bit mysterious at the time, wondering why some of the the patterns were so important. Seems like there was melodic minor, harmonic minor and natural minor.







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Re: Help with a student - The big bad Pentatonic Scale

6/22/2010 12:40 PM

Randy Hano (12149) wrote:

Irony has it my acoustic uses .011's. At least you remember your history Ken, I only remember some. I knew the pentatonic, major (Ionian) and minor (Aeolian), Melodic and Harmonic Minor from general music classes in HS. When I entered college then mode study began. I was studying theory in with reference to Gregorain chant and the diatonic modes and then it hit me - how 'bout applying this to guitar - BOOM - the new door opened. I made up my own patterns as my concern was more the sound, tone and the emotion of the mode. During this period I also began a heavy study into intervals, triads and triad arpeggios. I could always hear it in my head but now I could start playing what I heard slowly but surely.

Eventually extensions started along with harmonization study of the diatonic modes, melodic minor (primarily - lydian b7 and the altered scale)and harmonic minor. Arp study is still going on along with the right way to play the dim scale and it's use. I have also gone back to restudy Pentatonics as I will use them a half-step above the tonic to create the altered tones.

Fun stuff!!!







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Re: Help with a student - The big bad Pentatonic Scale

6/22/2010 12:58 PM

Ken Richardson (9051) wrote:

When I learned those first position notes I had an old old book that my dad had used - had "Down in the Valley" and that sort of thing in it. Had lessons in it like " Notes on the 1st string" LOL ! Would have been about 12 or so.

I took a few lessons, maybe 3. I enjoyed it, but the guy who was teaching would not show up very often at the store, so I did not take lessons very long. Mostly we worked on tunes and learning by ear.

I found a book by Tom Wheeler which had a good fretboard diagram and chord charts. I sat and copied many of the diagrams and patterns by hand, which really helped me to commit them to memory. Never have seen that book again. I think it was out in the early 70s.

I learned a little bit of theory, mostly how major and minor chords are made, and a bit about keys and signatures from a book I found at school.

Later on, at about 14 or so got that book with the soundsheet, and actually learned a lot of lead guitar on acoustic that summer.





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Re: Help with a student - The big bad Pentatonic Scale

6/22/2010 7:38 PM

Warren Hunt (5730) wrote:

Your right about strings and the tone. SRV used very thick strings sometimes .13's.

A thicker string gives more tone and sustain. I always find it amazing how people start with thin strings and over time end up getting thicker ones. I too experimented with ultra ultra light .38's. I could bend them all day long but the sound was thin and tinny.

It would be interesting to do a survey on it.





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Re: Help with a student - The big bad Pentatonic Scale

6/22/2010 11:28 PM

Randy Hano (12149) wrote:

Bingo brother!!! Too save the sanity of SRV's voice as well as string bending Stevie tuned to Eb. It also gave sound thicker sound which is trademark SRV.

It is funny how over the course of musical exploration we experiment with string brands, gauges, tunings, and we are not even speaking of equipement. I am sure that you went through the various pick styles as well as thicknesses.





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Re: Help with a student - The big bad Pentatonic Scale

6/23/2010 12:40 AM

Warren Hunt (5730) wrote:

Oh yeah, I think I used just about every style, brand, gauge and type of material when it comes to picks. From plastic to stone and metal. I even had a bone pick at one stage. I also use a free pick called my thumb!

My strings now are 10 - 52's on my strat and 9 - 42 on the Tele. My Gibson changes according to what I am playing, but generally they are very heavy, like 11 - 56. My basses are 55 - 110's.

I would love to have a good hands on look at one of SRV's strats. The tension on the neck could be hugh.





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Re: Help with a student - The big bad Pentatonic Scale

6/23/2010 1:09 AM

Randy Hano (12149) wrote:

All my electrics are 10-52. My lone bass is just the standard Medium set. After trying many brands I have settled on GHS Boomers for both guitar and bass strings. My acoustic uses 11's and are Elixirs. My classical uses high tension D'Addario Pro Arte strings.

As for the picks, the metal ones were fun and I even bought one of those speed picks for training - lol. I remember the stone pick eons ago - that was a real treat. Now I just use Dunlop Delrin 500 picks that are .96 or 1.14 thick. I also love to finger picking. Sometimes I just put the pick away and finger pick.







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Re: Help with a student - The big bad Pentatonic Scale

6/23/2010 8:35 AM

Ken Richardson (9051) wrote:

I got a couple of those Dava picks. They are sort of like a hard pick if you choke up on them, close to the point.

They are a little looser if you hold them back at the wider, round part for strumming.

I recall getting some kind of copper or copper colored pick years ago. It was metal and kind of thin. I got into using a really heavy pick on the mandolin, and have experimented a bit with heavy gauge picks on acoustic guitar.







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Re: Help with a student - The big bad Pentatonic Scale

6/23/2010 9:55 AM

Randy Hano (12149) wrote:

I never heard of those Dava picks before. This what I tried to improve my speed eons ago. Ever heard of the stylus pick?

illus1.jpg

http://www.styluspick.com/default.htm







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Re: Help with a student - The big bad Pentatonic Scale

6/23/2010 11:01 AM

Ken Richardson (9051) wrote:

I have seen those, but I have not tried them.

Did it help? The Dava was made by Dave somebody, I think. It was not so much for speed as it was to be versatile. Hold it one way its a stiff pick, hold another way it is looser and easier for full chord strumming.







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Re: Help with a student - The big bad Pentatonic Scale

6/23/2010 11:15 AM

Randy Hano (12149) wrote:

It helped me to control the depth of the pick more than anything. If you went to deep, the pick would get caught and a crappy note would be produced. It was only good to improve your alternate picking.







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Re: Help with a student - The big bad Pentatonic Scale

6/23/2010 4:37 PM

Warren Hunt (5730) wrote:

I have heard good things about them but not used them. I generally use .88 made by Dunlop.







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Re: Help with a student - The big bad Pentatonic Scale

6/24/2010 10:04 AM

Randy Hano (12149) wrote:

Those picks were just an experiment for me to improve accuracy. I am not a super speedster but can play fast enough with the norm. When I got that pick it helped with my articulation and minimal wrist movement. It is just another technique aid.





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Re: Help with a student - The big bad Pentatonic Scale

6/23/2010 8:31 AM

Ken Richardson (9051) wrote:

I think SRV tuned down his guitars - That would reduce the tension.





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Re: Help with a student - The big bad Pentatonic Scale

6/23/2010 9:47 AM

Randy Hano (12149) wrote:

SRV tuned to Eb.







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Re: Help with a student - The big bad Pentatonic Scale

6/23/2010 11:02 AM

Ken Richardson (9051) wrote:

I guess Eb would not give that much relief from tension.







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Re: Help with a student - The big bad Pentatonic Scale

6/23/2010 11:17 AM

Randy Hano (12149) wrote:

No, but from what I recall - SRV had his number #1 renecked several times due to wear and a lot of tear.







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Re: Help with a student - The big bad Pentatonic Scale

6/23/2010 3:48 PM

Ken Richardson (9051) wrote:

I am seriously thinking of getting a new neck for my old Ibanez. I like it, but its needing a refret, and I am not sure I want to refret that maple neck. Then again, it still has some clear finish over it, it might be OK!







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Re: Help with a student - The big bad Pentatonic Scale

6/23/2010 4:04 PM

Randy Hano (12149) wrote:

What kind of Ibanez is it? RG Series?







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Re: Help with a student - The big bad Pentatonic Scale

6/23/2010 4:06 PM

Ken Richardson (9051) wrote:

Its a 1980 Blazer. Ash body, 2 humbuckers.





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Re: Help with a student - The big bad Pentatonic Scale

6/23/2010 4:34 PM

Warren Hunt (5730) wrote:

Yeah he did and I should have clarified the point by saying at full tension.



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Re: Help with a student - The big bad Pentatonic Scale

6/20/2010 9:06 PM

Matt Wood (2844) wrote:

I'm sure it will sink in and he'll have an "aaahh" moment

or maybe he will just work out his own way of seeing it.

Myself I kinda see scales and modes as a constatnt changing thing in a song . Just cause your playing a em "shape" scale over a G chord doesnt mean you not playing in G major when the chord changes from em to G . Likewise with every chord in the scale . Every note is an extension of the chord your playing over and a different mode

thats how I see it making most sense anyway



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Re: Help with a student - The big bad Pentatonic Scale

6/20/2010 9:47 PM

Warren Hunt (5730) wrote:

Matt, thats pretty close to what I see it as too. Modes can be very confusing at first.



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Re: Help with a student - The big bad Pentatonic Scale

6/20/2010 10:59 PM

Matt Wood (2844) wrote:

yeah. its funny guitar is really the only instrument where people seems so infatuated with them(modes) . seems like most other instruments just take them at face value and that they take care of themselves most of the time

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