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Scale Practice


Practicing scales is hard work, but it is necessary. Scale practice is like weight lifting for musicians. The accompaniments you find below can actually make scale practice fun – even practicing those really hard scales in 6 flats or 7 sharps.  To get started, print a copy of the Chart of Common Scales.  Also, please read the page about the Circle of Fourths. This scale practice uses the circle of fourths, so you need to be familiar with how that works.

The circle of fourths allows us to practice all 12 keys with equal emphasis. Below you will find links to several accompaniment tracks in different styles. In all cases, the accompaniment remains in each key for 8 measures, and then moves to the next key clockwise on the circle of fourths.  The MIDI and MP3 tracks are equivalent.  The MIDI files are very small and the MP3 files are quite large.  If you have a high-speed Internet connection you will probably prefer the richness of the MP3 files, but the MIDI files work very well for practice.

Major Scales

Most people find the major scales the easiest because we are most familiar with how that scale sounds. Follow the links below to play accompaniment tracks, each one starting in C concert (*), moving clockwise around the circle with 8 bars in each key. Play along with these tracks.  These tracks work with the major scales in each key. If you need to look at music to play all these scales, see the scale sheet. Use only the scales from the Major column. Play each scale for 8 bars, and then go to the major scale in the next row down.

At first you may want to simply play the major scales over these tracks. As you get more comfortable, improvise by varying the notes from each scale. Have fun!


  MIDI:    Swing (100 beats per min.)     Bossa Nova (125)       Rock (100)      Bebop (185)

  MP3:     Swing (100 beats per min.)     Bossa Nova (125)       Rock (100)      Bebop (185)


* Trumpets, clarinets, and tenor saxes start in D major.  Alto sax starts in A major.

Print the chord changes for your instrument.  This will help you keep your place.


Dorian Scales

The Dorian scale is the most common minor scale used in jazz. Follow the links below to play accompaniment tracks, each one starting in D Dorian concert (*), moving clockwise around the circle with 8 bars in each key. These tracks work with the Dorian scales in each key. If you need to look at music to play all these scales, see the scale sheet. Use only the scales from the Dorian column.  Play each scale for 8 bars, and then go to the Dorian scale in the next row down.

At first you may want to simply play the major scales over these tracks. As you get more comfortable, improvise by varying the notes from each scale. Have fun!


  MIDI:    Swing (100 beats per min.)     Bossa Nova (125)       Rock (65)      Bebop (185)

  MP3:     Swing (100 beats per min.)     Bossa Nova (125)       Rock (65)      Bebop (185)


* Trumpets, clarinets, and tenor saxes start with E Dorian.  Alto sax starts B Dorian

Print the chord changes for your instrument.  This will help you keep your place.