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Hey YGT followers,

Today I am showing you something a little different and something that I think is incredibly helpful to a guitarist who may have reached an advanced level of playing but is stuck. Part of being a guitar player in my opinion, is to never stop learning and to always put yourself out of your comfort zone if you feel that you may be stagnating.

As a guitar teacher I am often teaching very similar ideas to various students, so I get good at these particular things and then push them onto new ideas to further their playing. This works really well but I felt it would do me some good to have an understanding of what a seriously experienced world class guitarist would teach me. Scott McGill was very happy to take on this challenge and I was very happy with his teaching and feedback. Scott’s effortless technique and understanding of the instrument is inspiring and his awareness of me as the student made highlighting areas to work on suddenly become obvious.

Throughout this series I want to share with you my personal journey of furthering my own guitar playing with the guidance of Scott McGill. As Scott uses music notation to write the exercises I have written them in TAB for you so you can follow if you don’t read music.

Finger Gymnastics

As a guitar player who puts a fair amount of emphasis on technique, I was interested to see what Scott would give me as a warm up exercise and technique builder. The following exercise is designed to develop your alternate picking and ability to move between strings fluently. As well as this, it helps you build strength between certain finger groups depending on which finger pattern you use.

Exercise 1- Fingers 1, 2 and 3

Finger Gymnastics 1

Finger Gymnastics 1

The emphasis on the exercise above should be to play each note as cleanly as possible and to keep your fingers close to the fretboard at all times so that you could put your fourth finger into play if you wish. My personal findings were that I was allowing my fourth finger to fly away from the other three fingers and this will slow you down when you want to use the fourth finger.

Exercise 2- Fingers 1, 2 and 4

Finger Gymnastics 2

Finger Gymnastics 2

Scale Pivoting (Dorian Mode on E string)

Scott’s approach to modal command was an eye opener as it was different from my approach but very effective. The scale pivoting approach meant that if you keep your hand in one position, you should be able to play the given mode without rushing around the fretboard. The notes you want are under your fingers and with economy of motion in mind this approach will help you find the mode you want without flying around to find a shape you always rely on.

The basic idea is to have your hand resting in the one fret per a finger position with your fourth finger on the 8th fret low E string, third finger 7th fret E string, Second finger 6th fret E string and first finger 5th fret low E string. For the first lesson you only need to focus on playing a Dorian off each of the fingers so that each finger creates the root note of each Dorian mode you play. So the fourth finger plays a C Dorian (8th fret Low E). Third finger plays B Dorian (7th fret Low E), second finger Bb Dorian (6th fret Low E) and finally the first finger plays an A Dorian (5th fret low E).

At first this feels very strange because you may well have learnt your modes in terms of the CAGED shapes, but this is not a problem. Having the sound of the mode in your head is the most important thing because now you need to work out how to play the modes in new ways with a particular finger playing the root and without moving your hand out of position too much.

Scale Pivoting Dorian Modes on The Low E

Scale Pivoting Dorian Modes on The Low E

If you are struggling with using different fingerings for these modes, don’t worry because I did at first but with just a few half hour sessions on the pivot exercise I mastered this concept on the low E String. If you have a loop pedal, recording software or even better a person to jam with then I recommend that you have a guitarist play Cm7, Bm7, Bbm7 and Am7 a few bars per chord so that you can work on playing through the scale and hearing the Dorian sound. Once you have the fingerings under your fingers then work on sounding musical by playing short phrases with each mode.

In the next part of the advanced guitar lesson series I will share more of the finger gymnastics, pivot technique with the Dorian mode on the A string and spread arpeggios.

As always I hope you have enjoyed this lesson and please look around the site for more information or if you wish to learn guitar with Your Guitar Tutor then please see the eBooks.

Tom Clark


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