Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

Help with scales

I have a question when using the metronome on FFcP scales. I have been playing the mandolin since last August and I started playing the FFcP scales from the Jazz Mandolin web page about a month ago. I can play the straight scales at 50 BPM playing 16th notes, but when I start doing alternate notes, 1-5-3-6-etc I get finger dyslexia and both hands tense up. Should I slow the BPM on the alternate notes scale or play one measure at a time until I can get smooth at 50 BPM playing 16th notes?
Suggestions would be great.


Consider slowing down until you get a clean scale, then inch it up a small bit each day until it is no longer clean, then slow down and restart the climb back up. Practice clean to get muscle memory before escalating speed, too.


Thanks Danl, would you suggest I practice the 1st FFcP until I get good before I move on or practice all 4 fingers during my practice sessions?


Everyone probably needs to develop their own approach, but personally I mix it up to keep the exercise process interesting. One thing I’ve learned from Ben is the critical importance of pick direction and timing and outright counting, esp. for syncopation. The best way for me to achieve high quality speed is to practice really slow using the best technique and sound quality I can muster. It’s taken years here at, but I am getting better and my family even lets me play indoors now.


Thanks for the advice Danl1, I really appreciate the advice.
My wife asked me to stop playing in the house early in the morning, some ridiculous story about keeping here awake and 4:30 is to early to start playing on Saturday morning. Go figure.:joy::joy::joy::joy::cry::cry:


I say to slow the whole thing down :slight_smile:


I agree with slow the whole thing down. My total learning time is shorter if I start slower, get it right, and then speed up instead of trying to start at a fast tempo. I’m not a big scale guy - although I recognize their value. What I tend to do is learn a scale pattern and then I can’t get away from it - it’s like the only way I know to play the notes is in the scale order. Practicing melodies has helped my ear and fingers develop faster in the last year than in the previous how-ever-many-years.

Ben’s recent guitar lesson on improvising has a good exercise I’m using that helps learn scales: get from a starting note to a target end note in one or two measures using only notes in the scale.