Playing Scales, Arpeggios and “Cathy’s Secret Exercise”

Here’s a lesson on playing scales.  This is from my book “It’s An Autoharp” with videos from my eBook, “It’s An Autoharp, Part 2”, available on iTunes.    They are offered freely; however if you find them of value, you are encouraged to donate $5-10 via PayPal.  If enough of the people who use this vote by making a donation, I will put more lessons on the Web here.


Generosity Level




I’ve heard more than a few students say, “I’m playing the autoharp for the FUN of it!  I’m NOT going to practice scales.  Period.”   OK.  That’s fine.  Skip this lesson, then come back to it when you’ve decided you want to play melodies well.  This is how it’s done.  We’ll start by examining the C scale.   You’ll find that the notes of the scale are contained in three chords: C, G, and F.    Here’s the C-Scale with Melody chords under each note:

fullscale1

Now,  while pushing down the C button with your left hand, try to pluck “do” with the middle finger of your right hand (you’ll want to get an idea of what this note sounds like in your head by strumming a C chord.)  Next,  push down the G bar,  and  pluck “re”.   Now back to “do” while pushing the C bar.

It looks like this:
doredo

And here’s a video:

Next, start with “do” with the C bar, go to “re” with the G bar, and pushing down the C bar again, pluck “mi”.  Now play “do-re-mi”   Next, pluck “do-re-mi-re do”.   Now, do four plucks on each note, repeating 3 times:

doremiredo

And here’s a video:

Next, do the same thing, but go up to fa and back:

doremifaremido

And a video:

Now, sol:

dotosoltodo

And a video playing up to sol and back with four plucks:

We could go up to la and back, up to ti and back, then do the whole scale. But I think you can see where we’re going here. Let’s try the whole scale with 4 plucks per note:
cscale4plucks

Here’s a video of that:

Now, try it with two plucks per note, up and down, repeating the top note:

cscale2plucks

Here’s a Video:

And now, one pluck per note. Try to get the exact note of the scale, but don’t look down at the strings. Play it three times :
cscale1pluck

And a video of the C scale with one pluck per note:

Once you’ve mastered the scale with one finger, then try playing it with a little pinch, bringing your middle finger down on the melody note and your thumb up on one or two lower harmony notes, only hitting 3 or four strings. Practice until you can play the whole scale cleanly up and down with a pinch, like this :

cscale1pinch

And a video:

I think scales are outrageously fun; don’t YOU? Well, so maybe you don’t, but practicing them will make you an immeasurably better melody player. NOW, see if you can PLAY THE SCALE WITHOUT LOOKING AT THE SCREEN! Once you can play the scale BY HEART, it’s time to start on this lovely round. Note that the first four notes in this tune are “do-re-mi-do”. The chords UNDER the notes are designated as the “melody chords”. And when a melody chord is repeated, you’ll see a slash (/) which tells you to play the same chord you just played. Play the whole tune, see if you can play it as a round with another instrumentalist, or play your part while somebody else sings the other part. Or, you could even play it as a round with me. (Wish I could hear you!) Each of the roman numerals in a box denotes one part. So you start at I when the other person gets to II, and so on. Have fun! Once you become familiar with this tune, also try to play it without looking at the music.

ohhowlovely
Here’s a video:

The next thing to learn about is arpeggios.

Here’s a little video on that:

And another video, making it into an exercise:

Here’s how that looks when written down:

arpexc

Now, here’s “Cathy’s Secret Exercise”!   This is the most valuable thing about this mini-lesson!  Do it!


And here’s how it looks written out:

secretexC

So…what’s so special about this?   Well, here’s the secret.   If you play Cathy’s Secret Exercise precisely 50 times a day for a week, ALL IN ONE WEEK,  (it takes 10-15 minutes)  I can (pretty much) promise you that you’ll be a better melody player at the end of that week.  It works!   I’ve seen it happen many times!   Do it!