I was recently asked to play electric guitar in a church band, I have been playing alot of finger style songs ( canon, river flows in you...etc.) in the past, and i had a look at the songs, it was words with chords on the top.

The leader of the band asked me if i could learn scales and play them, but the question is, how do i play scales when the song is like this for example (http://tabs.ultimate-guitar.com/t/tim_hughes/here_i_am_to_worship_ver2_crd.htm).

I have been looking on the internet, all i could find is a lot of different scales and positions, but i don't understand how i could use them. (Maybe its because my poor music theory).

I would really appreciate some help.. Maybe links to useful youtube vids and websites?
Thank you
This is something similar to what I do in the church group I'm in. One thing we do is to play the music prior to the start of the service. For that, we play regular hymns, but as the lead player, I have to play a recognizable melody. If the melody isn't recognizable as Amazing Grace, or whatever, then it's just me improvising over the rhythm. For this, work on ear training and recognizing intervals and translating them to the neck. The cool thing about doing this, is you can also improvise a bit and make it your own. Find out which key the song is in and go from there - most hymns use a major scale, or some variation of it. There are no vocals with this type of playing, so my guitar is the "lead singer."

The other thing we do is occasionally get tasked to play the special music just before the sermon. Since we have a lead singer, my job as the lead guitarist is to harmonize with him, plays riffs and fills when possible and take a verse or chorus during the song. Typically, most lead singers don't want you to play when they're singing, but the lead singer in our group wants me playing, since it adds another layer - I just try to stay out of his way and not play the same melody he's singing. I also drop back on my dynamics a little bit when he's singing.

I typically don't "think" scales when I'm playing, but if I were, I'd say that I think more about scales when I'm playing with a lead singer. When I'm playing the hymns, I find the correct key and then think intervallically. This takes a lot of practice. You also need a good ear to hear when songs momentarily depart from the scale. A good number of the hymns do this and you have to be able to hear it and play the correct note.

If your scale theory is weak, I would recommend doing a Google search on guitar backing tracks, or guitar jam tracks. There are hundreds of these available and most are free. Many of them even have the correct key in the title. Do another Google search to get a printout of the major or minor pentatonic scale for that song and start noodling around. Start off easy and gradually work up to harder songs. Once you get a little more proficient, start listening to songs on the radio or computer and playing lead along with them. Sites like Justin Guitar would be good for you, since you seem to be starting out.

Edit: I checked out the Tim Hughes song. I've heard it before, but have never played it. I immediately clicked into playing an E major pentatonic over it. Again, I'm not really thinking E pentatonic as I'm playing, I'm just listening to the song and playing something that sounds nice over it.

Oh, another thing I do, is I actually hear what I'm playing in my head. This helps a lot with composition of the lead playing and helps phrase it properly. Want to hear something cool? Try playing lead and singing at the same time.

So, you're going to have to learn scale theory. That's really the answer. You're going to have to learn scales and figure out how to apply them to music. And I know this may sound weird, but once you learn them and can play with songs, you sort of need to forget them. In other words, don't let yourself get locked into the habit of only playing the scale shapes as taught in the books. Learn to play them all over the neck - learn the notes on the neck of your guitar. That one is a biggie.
Last edited by KG6_Steven at Feb 9, 2015,