This week we have a major scale exercise that should help with your many different parts of your musicianship.

This is a follow on from the previous lesson on the cycle of fourths/fifths – check it out here if you haven’t seen it already. 

Course Recap

The cycle of fourths is a way of arranging every note in the chromatic scale so they are all a perfect fourth apart. You can work the cycle out by starting on C, counting up a fourth to F, then up another fourth to Bb and so on. Eventually, the cycle will come back round to C. You may have also heard of the cycle of fifths – this is just the cycle of fourths backwards.

Cycle of Fourths
C F Bb Eb Ab Db Gb/F# B E A D G C

Cycle of Fifths
C G D A E B F#/Gb Db Ab Eb Bb F C

Practising The Cycle of Fourths

In this exercise, we are going to play the major scale through the cycle of fourths (C major, F major, Bb major etc), whilst staying in the same position on the neck. We are also going to include every note of the scale we can find in that position, so that means going above or below the root in some cases.


  • Stay in the first position (the highest fret you should be using is fret 6)
  • Keep a steady rhythm and don’t start too fast
  • Utilise every note in the scale that is available to you in the first position
  • Start on the root, go up to the highest scale tone you can reach then descend the scale to the lowest tone and finally return to the root

How Will This Benefit Me?

Utilising every available scale tone in a single position will help you break out of the linear ‘root to octave’ pattern that many players fall into. This is because it forces you to think of the scale from different perspectives and puts more emphasis on learning the notes instead of just patterns.

Doing the exercise around the cycle of fourths helps you understand the ordering of keys and what fingering pattern you can assign to each key. This will also improve your reading as you will be able to align your fingers in a position that naturally works for the key.

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