Spaced Repetition for Learning Stringed Instrument Scale Patterns

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#1 30 July, 2013 - 11:05
Joined: 4 years 3 months ago

Spaced Repetition for Learning Stringed Instrument Scale Patterns

I have been using Anki for scheduling the practice of various guitar scale patterns. Many of the patterns I practice are movable. So, I can play a C major scale at one place on the fretboard, then move the pattern up two frets and play a D scale. (

In theory, I should be able to first learn all of the note locations on the fretboard, and then learn one pattern, and--voila!--I can play the pattern in any key. However, there are slight differences in each pattern as you move up the neck, because the frets get closer together. So to really be good at playing the pattern everywhere, you should practice it everywhere. This is especially true for non-freted instruments, where you have to get your spacing just right for proper intonation.

How should I handle this in Anki? Should I just create a card for the pattern in every position? Should I make them "siblings" so I am not just drawing the pattern from short term memory? Or should I just let the ratings buttons sort things out? Or do you think it would be adequate to randomly assign each different movable pattern to different keys, and expect the spacing subtleties to generalize across all patterns?

I welcome any suggestions.

31 July, 2013 - 13:13
Joined: 2 years 8 months ago

I play from muscle memory, which I don't know if Anki will help with, unless you visualize yourself playing the scales.

If you know the shapes of those five chords (C, A, G, E, D) in open position, you probably already have them memorized in every key.

One idea: play them through using the circle of fifths:
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So, first play F in all the positions. Then C in all the positions, then G, etc...

Just an idea to experiment with. I haven't played guitar in about three years because of a hand injury... :/

24 October, 2013 - 03:44
Joined: 4 years 11 months ago

+1 moving through the circle of fifths. It's essential to know well and teaches you just that muscle memory you are asking about.

This doesn't have to do with Anki, but inmho, Anki isnt't the right tool for the job. If possible, it's best to learn a skill by practicing the skills and sub-skills that are actually used, especially when it involves muscle memory. Aki is really good for memory sports because there are skills, like quickly linking images together, that can't be done until the images are known well.

It also helps to practice the modes. If you practice playing through the modes when you are playing your scales, you gain not only the skill of being able to practice all of those different patterns in different places on the neck board, but you learn the more advanced skill of knowing where notes within the same key are in relation to each other up and down the fretboard.

I might sound like a lot of extra information to learn, but if you've been playing every day since this post, you have probably seen how quickly the hands can get used to those patterns. It's only mental work in the beginning.

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