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Watch the Modal Rock Soloing online guitar lesson by Jon Finn from Modal Rock Soloing

What scale do I use? This is one of the most common questions I get asked as a teacher at Berklee, or at clinics when I'm on the road. There seems to be a lot of discussion on the internet on this topic too. The most common responses I see tend to fall in to two camps:

1) "I never use scales, I just play what I feel."
2) "After I've done a thorough analysis, my knowledge of music theory will lead me to the correct notes to play."

When I get asked that question, I give the short answer first: "The scale I use is the one that sounds good."

Of course there's more to it than that. It's important to remember that when we improvise, we're really trying to tell a story. One that advances the meaning of the song. To overthink the process can get in the way of storytelling. But not thinking at all doesn't allow us to give the story any momentum. Rather, we're just rambling aimlessly.

Certain sounds can invoke certain emotions. Major chords sound happy and minor chords sound sad. Choosing just the right note to play within a chord progression can be like that too. Even though I can't give you "The Right Notes to Play", there are certain tendencies that can be observed. Knowing how to conjur those sounds up gives you more control.

In this course, we'll learn a few ways to play scales and modes. We'll learn a little bit about how to figure out what scales you can use within certain types of chord progressions.

The goal of this course is to help develop a technique I like to call ear/hand coordination. Fully developed ear/hand coordination means you hear something in your head, and it comes out of your fingers without any hesitation. To do that, you must be able to hear something in your head and be able to instantly identify two things:

1) What it is and
2) Where it is.

I wish I could say that I have this mastered, but to be honest, I don't. Like you, I'm a student of guitar who's just trying to get better.

In these videos, I will keep the explanations relatively short because most of the learning takes place when you're playing the guitar and thinking about the meaning of everything you play. Because these videos are designed for repeated listenings, we won't spend a lot of time on each example. That's what the rewind button is for. If it feels like the pace is too fast when you first watch it, it'll feel just right when you go back for review.

As a teacher, it's important to me that my students develop their own voice. That means you take the information given and do something else. This system shows in detail many of the steps I've taken to develop what I do. If you like what you hear me doing, do exactly as I do.

If you want to get the most out of this course, I would suggest that you work through the entire program doing every example exactly as it is laid out. As you do that, formulate your own opinions about the information given. Your personal style is based on your opinions. Repeat that process several times because more information gets revealed in repeated practice. In fact, it's likely that you'll be able to repeat the program more than 10 times and still be able to extract new information. That's what my experience has been with this approach. The further up the hill you go, the more of the horizon you can see. Let's get started.