Hi all. I've been playing guitar for near 15 years now but it's only in the last year or so that I've begun to look at scales. One of the main reasons for this is that I'm left handed and for my entire guitar-playing life I've been presented with right-handed chord and scale diagrams which are meaningless to me.

I have to sit down and reverse all the diagrams (please don't point me to the internet for left-handed scales, I've searched extensively and they are all presented so horribly as to be useless). By the time I've spent ages reversing them I'm sick of thinking about it and lose motivation.

I'm currently on a full time university course doing contemporary guitar performance. Every week we are presented with new scales and I'm falling behind because I can't read them. I've asked for left-handed diagrams but have been told no.

Now I have built up a small collection of my own left-handed diagrams but learning them is still very difficult for me as they don't seem to stick. After a month I now have the first shape of the minor pentatonic down and I can recall the 2nd shape if I stop and think, that's about it. Currently I'm expected to know the minor and major pentatonics, blues scale and two different versions of the major scales all over the neck. I'm terrified thinking about when we get onto modes.

Can anyone give advice on good ways to get these shapes locked into memory? I'm starting to get really disheartened.

Until you memorized everything, you can think of the separate modes in a chronologic order. This is easy to apply if you use 3nps-patterns. Let's say B locrian, you start off with 7 8 10 on low e. Then the next 3 notes, are the phrygian. 7 8 10 on a. Next is the minor, 7 9 10 on the D, next is dorian, 7 9 10 on G, next is mixolydian, 8 10 12 on B, next is ionian (major) 8 10 12 on the high E. Say you're in minor key, you know that first is the three "minor" notes, next is the three "dorian" notes, etcetc. This way you can always improvise (even though it might be poor) if you know the key, and in any key. Learning the melodic minor harmonic minor modes etc is the same thing.