#1
So my guitar teacher wants me to start learning to improvise. He started off by telling me I should make a backing track to play over - strumming 8 beats of A, and then 8 beats of D and looping it. When I improvise over it, I'm supposed to play one form of an A scale up/down for 8 beats, and when the chord changes, I switch to a D scale no matter where I am at in the scale. Then I play the D scale up/down 8 beats until whenever the chord changes again.

However I have not been able to do this at all. It takes me at least 3-5 seconds to figure out the next note that I'm supposed to switch to in between the scale changes; even with the backing track off and at a slower speed. I can play the 4 forms of a scale very easily, but only if I start from the very beginning or ending of the scale. I can play up and down each scale, up one scale and down the other, and things like that but that's it. If he tells me to start playing it from anywhere else, it takes me a bit to find exactly where to play, but once I do I can blaze through it. When my teacher saw this, he says that I don't know the forms and scales enough, but I don't know what to do to help me memorize it any better so I can make those switches faster.

Any suggestions? Sorry if this doesn't make a lot of sense, ill try to explain more if you have any questions.
#2
Quote by Jarik
So my guitar teacher wants me to start learning to improvise. He started off by telling me I should make a backing track to play over - strumming 8 beats of A, and then 8 beats of D and looping it. When I improvise over it, I'm supposed to play one form of an A scale up/down for 8 beats, and when the chord changes, I switch to a D scale no matter where I am at in the scale. Then I play the D scale up/down 8 beats until whenever the chord changes again.

However I have not been able to do this at all. It takes me at least 3-5 seconds to figure out the next note that I'm supposed to switch to in between the scale changes; even with the backing track off and at a slower speed. I can play the 4 forms of a scale very easily, but only if I start from the very beginning or ending of the scale. I can play up and down each scale, up one scale and down the other, and things like that but that's it. If he tells me to start playing it from anywhere else, it takes me a bit to find exactly where to play, but once I do I can blaze through it. When my teacher saw this, he says that I don't know the forms and scales enough, but I don't know what to do to help me memorize it any better so I can make those switches faster.

Any suggestions? Sorry if this doesn't make a lot of sense, ill try to explain more if you have any questions.


Firstly it sounds to me like you do need to learn your scales better if it takes you that long to think about where the next "good" note is.

However until you've learned more thoroughly... try thinking in advance where you need to be, be mentally a few beats ahead and know where you need to be before you need to be there.
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#3
practice your scales more, and learn the different positions. if you learn the two scales in the same position it should be easy to know what note to go to when you switch.
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#4
You need to be able to visualize the fretboard. Knowing the note names and what notes would fit in one key is useful, but the guitar is a very pattern oriented instrument. There's no reason why you shouldn't use that to your advantage. As long as you don't get stuck playing in one pattern, being able to see the patterns of your scales all over the fretboard can help things become more automatic.

Work on visualizing each of your CAGED patterns or whatever system you use. Don't just play up and down the scales. Jump around. Skip strings. Switch positions. Break away from your memorized runs and really get to know where every note is. I had the same problem. It'll come with time, like all things.
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#5
When I said "form" I meant "position" and I know all 5 of them, but yeah I can only play them up and down from the beginning or end, not in between or on the root (takes me a few seconds to find it) etc.

And by visualizing, did you guys mean trying to infuse pictures like these into my brain? Would that help? http://www.myguitarworkshop.com/guitar_lessons/scales/the_minor_pentatonic_scale_box_patterns_on_guitar_fretboard.aspx
#7
Start practising your scales from the middle and as sequences.

Your brain uses a different kind of memory for lists - what's the 16th letter of the alphabet?

Ok, point proven.

That's why you have to practice your scales loads of different ways and know each note/position/interval relative to every other one. (eventually - for now, just start in the middle and sequence your scales).
#8
Quote by Jarik
When I said "form" I meant "position" and I know all 5 of them, but yeah I can only play them up and down from the beginning or end, not in between or on the root (takes me a few seconds to find it) etc.

And by visualizing, did you guys mean trying to infuse pictures like these into my brain? Would that help? http://www.myguitarworkshop.com/guitar_lessons/scales/the_minor_pentatonic_scale_box_patterns_on_guitar_fretboard.aspx

If your memory works in a way that you can just stare at that and be able to see it on the fretboard instantly, then go right ahead. I can't do that, so I use little tricks (powerchord shape is a fifth, major and minor thirds, octaves, etc.) to remember where notes would fall. Like I said in my last post. It all comes with time. One of the things that helped me the most was improvising all over the neck. Try everything you can and don't give up. Sometime, it'll click.
The guy's a beast, but he uses 8s. So he's shit.
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#9
Quote by Freepower
Start practising your scales from the middle and as sequences.

Your brain uses a different kind of memory for lists - what's the 16th letter of the alphabet?

Ok, point proven.

That's why you have to practice your scales loads of different ways and know each note/position/interval relative to every other one. (eventually - for now, just start in the middle and sequence your scales).
Do you mean start from a random note in the middle of the scale and then from there play up and down it once, then start over?
#10
No.

I mean you have to be able to move through scales in more than just straight up and down.

You've got them straight up and down, starting in the middle occasionally is a good idea, but you should also try patterns like (written as scale degrees) -

1234 2345 3456 etc - a sequence of fours
132435 (scale in thirds)
135 246 357 (all constituent triads)

Anything else you can find or invent.