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guitar modes explained

Guitar Modes Explained

Modes Explained and a series of guitar teachers handouts looking at helping students to understand how they work on the guitar


How "important" are modes to guitar teachers?

Guitar Modes are wonderful things.
When I decided to teach guitar for a living I imagined that I would spend a whole lot of my time helping the technically advanced intermediate level players (like I had been a relatively short time before) unlock the neck of the guitar using modes to help them to understand the range of harmonic and melodic possibilities that were spread out before them. The reality was somewhat different.

Customers looking for help with modes are a relatively "tiny" part of the market for a guitar teacher

If I depended on students who were at the stage that a working knowledge of modes was what they needed most then the truth is that I would probably be living in (and teaching from) a cardboard box!

The vast majority of people who help me to avoid a day job (thanks folks!) are beginner/intermediate players and children. By far the largest part of the work that I do that involves teaching kids guitar or a series of lessons for older learners who are at beginner and intermediate stages of guitar playing


What Im saying is that the reality of the teaching guitar ended up being totally different to the way that I imagined it and that if I had chosen the type of work that I did more carefully I could probably have waved goodbye to the day job years earlier. You can find out more by going to the page that looks at how good do you need to be in order to teach guitar? or to some material that looks at the various kinds of guitar teaching job that there are out there

Having said all of that modes are challenging, important and a huge amount of fun

How Guitar Modes Work

Modes on guitar (beloved of modern players like Joe Satriani and Steve Vai right back to Jazz guitar pioneers such as Joe Pass and Wes Montgomery) are simply put just the notes of a parent major scale (which itself is re-named the ionian mode) played from a point other than the first note of that major scale. So if you play the C major Scale from its second note (D) using the notes D E F G A B C and D you produce the D dorian mode.

Three PDF Handouts for each mode

an explanation of how modes work on guitar

The teachwombat materials give guitar teachers three printable handouts for each guitar mode.

The first sheet explains the guitar mode itself through one octave providing a scale formulae (on the left hand diagram) and suggesting a practical fingering (on the right)

The second and third sheets go on to extend the mode into two octaves and then to cover the whole range of the guitar neck encouraging your student to develop the mode over the entire neck of the guitar.

Below you can see some more material looking at modes on the guitar.

Ionian Modes for Guitar

Ionian Modes defined

The ionian mode is simply the major scale starting from (and ending on) the root (or first) note. Using a parent major scale of C the ionian mode would contain the notes C D E F G A B and C.

The Dorian Mode for Guitar

The dorian Modes defined

The dorian mode is the major scale starting from (and ending on) the second note. Using a parent major scale of C a one octave dorian mode would contain the notes of D E F G A B C and D.

In the diagram below (which shows the fingering for a dorian mode of A through two octaves) the "parent" scale is G Major. The A dorian is produced from the G major scale because A is the second note of the G Major Scale (in the same way that D is the second note of the C Major Scale?)

It is very important when teaching your guitar students about modes to keep relating their construction back to the idea of their being a "parent" Major scale which defines and controls the whole process?

how to play the dorian mode on guitar

Another way of thinking about the dorian mode on guitar is to regard it as being a "natural minor scale with a raised 6th note"

Click the link to get a free copy of one of our sheets looking at a two octave dorian mode on the guitar




We also have another page that takes a more detailed approach to teaching the dorian mode on guitar.


Phrygian Modes for Guitar

phrygian Modes defined

The phrygian mode is the major scale starting from (and ending on) its third note. Using a parent major scale of C a one octave phrygian mode would contain the notes of E F G A B C D and E.

how to play the phrygian mode on guitar
Another way of thinking about the phrygian mode on guitar is to regard it as being a "natural minor scale with a flattened 2nd note"


lydian Modes for Guitar

Lydian Mode defined

The lydian mode is the major scale starting from (and ending on) its fourth note. Using a parent major scale of C a one octave lydian mode would contain the notes of F G A B C D E and F.


guitar lydian modes explained
It is also possible to think of the lydian mode on guitar as being a major scale with a raised fourth note

.


Mixolydian Modes for Guitar

mixolydian Modes defined

The mixolydian mode is the major scale starting from (and ending on) its fifth note. Using a parent major scale of C a one octave mixolydian mode would contain the notes of G A B C D E F and G.

guitar modes explained
It is also possible to regard the mixolydian mode on guitar as being a major scale with a flattened seventh note

Aeolian Modes for Guitar

aeolian Modes defined

The aeolian mode is the major scale starting from (and ending on) its sixth note.
Using a parent major scale of C a one octave aeolian mode would contain the notes of A B C D E F G and A.

guitar modes explained
It is also possible to regard the aeolian mode for guitar as being a natural minor scale

Locrian Modes for Guitar

locrian Mode defined

The locrian mode is the major scale starting from (and ending on) its seventh note.
Using a parent major scale of C a one octave locrian mode would contain the notes of B C D E F G A and B.

guitar modes explained


It is also possible to regard the locrian guitar mode as being very wierd indeed!

Using Guitar Modes


It is beyond the scope of this page to go into much depth concerning the use of guitar modes by Joe Satriani, Steve Vai and othe legends like Joe Pass etc but hopefully you found some of this information useful?

Guitar teachers might like to look at the full range of guitar teacher's handouts avaliable from teachwombat which feature a full range of printable guitar modes . The material deals with much more than just modes for guitar.

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The Guitar Teacher's Toolkit


 How To Teach Kids Guitar
100 printable sheets dealing with Open Chords-Bar Chords-Scales- Modes- Blank Fretboard and Chord Grids Teaching Diary and Business Card Designs



The Backing Tracks and Handouts Package


 How To Teach Kids with Guitar Backing Tracks
35 backing tracks and over 80 chord sheets and handouts to go with them An invaluable aid designed to help you to teach both rhythm and lead guitar to younger and older students alike Great for helping to develop a good sense of timing (which will last a lifetime) in a novice player

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 How To Teach Kids Guitar, Chords For Children
More than forty sheets designed to help you to Teach Guitar to Children This material is designed to run alongside the "Backing Tracks and Handouts Package . All of the material that you need in order to teach kids to play guitar. Chord Charts, One finger (reduced) chord diagrams. An opportunity to start any young would be guitar player off the right way!

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The Bass Guitar Teacher's Toolkit


resources for how to teach kids guitar chords
Over 60 Handouts for anyone who already teaches (or who wishes to teach) bass guitar covering Scales, Chords, Fingering Exercises etc


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