Minor Scales - Two and Three Octave Transposable Patterns

After you have learned to play the transposable major scales, and have memorized and practiced them in all 12 keys, the next step is to learn the minor scales.  There are three forms of the minor scale: natural, harmonic and melodic minor.  I use the "melodic" minor for the purposes of keyboard mastery.  (Click here for a brief discussion of how scales are constructed.) Because the melodic minor uses different pitches while ascending and descending, I have found it is technically the most beneficial to learn and practice.

Using the same unified approach outlined for major scales, begin by learning the Bb melodic minor scale illustrated below.  Once that is memorized and comfortable to play, then begin to transpose it to different keys.  Over the period of, for example, a month, with careful attention, you will be able to play this pattern anywhere on the fretboard.  Remember that whatever note you start on is the name of the scale you are playing. 

After you have established a solid mastery of the Bb minor scale, repeat the same process with the F melodic minor scale.  Remember that there is no hurry, and to take your time, with patience and thorough attention to details. 

After you have a solid control of both the major and minor scale patterns, and can play them in all positions on the fretboard, continue by playing the whole cycle of major and minor scales every day.  Over several seasons, you will have a tremendous increase in your total technical skills on the guitar.  This scale playing probably takes about 20 minutes to complete the whole cycle.  A few other tips:

  • Don't play fast.
  • Make sure that you shift in a completely smooth way - this is one of the hardest and most valuable lessons.
  • Pay careful attention to tone quality.  Every note can be beautiful, with a clear attack, sustain and ending.
  • Vary the right hand patterns.  At least alternate i & m; then m & a; then i & a.  Over time you will be comfortable with any right hand pattern as well.

Check out the images below, and if you wish to download a free PDF, just click on the image and you can download from there.