Weekly Workout: Patterns in Thirds

Posted by Sean McGowan

Most guitarists are accustomed to playing scales to warm up or improve their overall technical proficiency, but many restrict their practice to one particular scale or pattern, ascending and descending from root to root. While this has benefits, players who only practice scales in this way are missing out on some big rewards that can improve many facets of their playing. One effective approach that is popular among violinists and cellists is to practice scales in intervals of thirds, with a variety of patterns and variations. Playing intervals of thirds (C–E, D–F, E–G, etc.) in a scale is sometimes referred to as playing “broken thirds.”

Weekly Workout 6: Patterns in Thirds
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This workout starts with a simple C-major scale played in broken thirds. The pattern consists of two notes—thirds—and moves right up through the scale, starting in second position and gradually working up to the 12th fret and back down. This might seem a bit tricky at first, but take it slowly, and it will soon become part of your muscle memory in the same way a scale or G run is. Be sure to follow the suggested fingerings notated in small Arabic numerals above the musical notation in each example.

Excerpted from Acoustic Guitar, March 2013

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