Blues scales are the backbone of the blues. Without it there would be no blues. Learning how to use scales will greatly add to your blues arsenal.
In this article I’ not going to talk about how to build a scale (you can find that here) but I am going to talk about how to use the scale.
When learning the blues you might feel like your hands won’t move the way you want them to. You might have a lick you can hear in your head but you just can’t make your fingers do it.
This is why doing warmups are important.
If you want true freedom in your hands, for them to do what you want them to you need to exercise them. Yes, exercise.
Playing the piano, especially the blues, takes work just like everything else. You need to work out your hands, get them used to the scale and how it fits on the piano.
How to Practice Scales
When practicing scales you always start playing with the right hand and very slow. As you start to get better you speed it up.
Once you have mastered the right hand you play with the left hand. Start slow and then get faster.
With the left hand mastered now try playing the scale with both hands at the same time. Start out slow like always and then get faster.
Make sure you practice this method with all twelve keys. Don’t get in a hurry and try to learn only one scale, learn them all and spread your time to all twelve keys.
A half scale is simply what the name implies, it is half of the scale.
The half scale is made up of the first four notes of the blues scale. When first learning the blues you should use the half scales to help strengthen your fingers.
This exercise will get you familiar with these types of scales in all twelve keys and get your fingers stronger and faster.
The full blues scale is good practice because it gets you used to to crossing over your fingers. When playing a full scale you need to cross over your fingers to get to the rest of the notes.
Using this exercise will help you for when you are soloing because you will be able to move up and down the keyboard flawlessly because you have practiced crossing your fingers over.
Two Octave Scale
The two octave scale starts on the first note of the scale and ends on the same note two octaves up. Once yo have mastered this in both hands ascending and descending you will start to see your blues taking a different form.
You will be able to play new riffs because you fingers will have mobility that they never had before.
These are more advanced type of blues scales. For this exercise play the root note with the first finger and then the same note an octave above with the fifth finger. Play each note separately not at the same time.
Once you played the first note then move up to the second note in the blues scale and so on until you reach the octave.
These four types of blues scales will help you gain strength and stamina in your fingers. You might not think that its not that important but once you start practicing this way you will see how important it is to have independent fast moving fingers when playing the blues.
Make sure that you practice these scales in every key. Try and do these everyday to keep up the muscle memory in your fingers.
Don’t practice these scales too long at first. If your hands start to hurt stop for a little bit then come back. If you do too much at once then you are wasting your time. Its like working a muscle at the gym. If you work it out too much then it won’t help. Your hands need rest just like any other muscle.
Take your time and you will be playing blues like a pro!