Bill Leavitt’s 5 Major Scale Fingerings

William Leavitt’s 5-Positions of the Major Scale:

Those scales are in William Leavitt’s “Modern Method for Guitar”
His approach is defined by what he calls “position playing” (position=one fret BELOW your 2nd finger). His position playing allows your hand to stay in one place while your fingers cover a six-fret area (using 1st and 4th finger stretches).

The first 5 are introduced in Volume II (I think):
Type 1 (uses one 1st finger stretch)
Type 1A (uses two 1st finger stretches)
Type 2 (no finger stretches)
Type 3 (no finger stretches)
Type 4 (uses on 4th finger stretch)

In volume three, he adds Types 1B, 1C, 1D (all using 1st finger stretches)
as well as 4A, 4B, 4C, 4D and 1A/4D

Making a total of 14 total fingerings. His thing was to be thorough. He admitted to using only a portion of these in his own playing, but felt that it was important to give his readers “keys to the kingdom”

Here are his 5 fingerings. enjoy.

PS: Bill was my teacher while I was at Berklee :-)



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8 Responses to Bill Leavitt’s 5 Major Scale Fingerings

  1. Julian says:

    I’m learning from the Modern Method for Guitar and have so far reached position 1A. I have a question. How do Leavitt’s fingerings compare with others? Are they commonly taught now or have they been superseded by something different?

    • Jon says:

      Well, Bill Leavitt’s approach was intended for use in sight=reading situations. He asserted that if your fingers can stay in one position, it’s a more effective approach. There are many other approaches that you can take. Each has it’s pros and cons. Make sense?

    • Maya says:

      Hello, I just fhensiid my second semester at Berklee and I am at around page 30 in volume three. I have a question in regards to the gratuitous amount of arpeggios Leavitt shows such as the four note arpeggio pages (starting with page 25 of the third volume). How much of this type of material was intended to be memorized? Is this material mostly intended to aid in quicker recognition of arpeggios when sight reading? In fact, this question even applies to the arpeggios he goes through in volume 2. I feel like just studying these pages won’t lead to any real success in using these arpeggios and other material such as the triad chords of volume 2, so how should one apply this stuff?

  2. Billy says:

    Hello, I just finished my second semester at Berklee and I am at around page 30 in volume three. I have a question in regards to the gratuitous amount of arpeggios Leavitt shows such as the four note arpeggio pages (starting with page 25 of the third volume). How much of this type of material was intended to be memorized? Is this material mostly intended to aid in quicker recognition of arpeggios when sight reading? In fact, this question even applies to the arpeggios he goes through in volume 2. I feel like just studying these pages won’t lead to any real success in using these arpeggios and other material such as the triad chords of volume 2, so how should one apply this stuff?

    • Jon says:

      Hi Billy! Great question. Bill Leavitt’s thing was, in his words, “to give you all the options so you can figure out which ones work best for you.” I’m not sure if he meant for them to be memorized. I know I learned a lot from going through them. You’ll find that those books are great if you keep asking yourself, “why would he want me to know this?”

      Does that help?

      • Billy says:

        Yeah thanks! I figured it would be quite an undertaking to try to internalize all fingerings of this material. He does say to “learn” the fingerings and spellings of all such arpeggios, but I suppose the ones to be memorized are the ones I find most useful, as you said.

  3. Billy says:

    Hello again, I realized I have one more question about one of Leavitt’s books. In his Reading Studies For Guitar, he states in his introductory notes that you should “keep moving on through the studies even though some have been played poorly… and when you have reached the point of total failure, go back to the beginning and start again. Each time through, you will progress a little farther.” Do you think he simply means to start over the particular study from the beginning at the point of failure, or to start again from the beginning of the book?

    • Jon says:

      I think he meant start over in the entire book. He felt that it was important to NOT memorize what you’re reading, when practicing sight-reading. I had many discussions with him about this. I’d practice some of his pieces until I could play them smoothly. By that time, the piece was memorized. When I asked what I was doing wrong, he said “nothing.” When I pointed out what he said in the reading book, he remarked, “That’s for developing your sight-reading skills. The examples in that book are just exercises. Here, you’re learning to perform a piece of music.”

      The sight-reading book has a narrow goal. Frankly I had a hard time using it because the pieces themselves weren’t very rewarding even if you played them right. Instead, I used to buy intermediate-level clarinet or flute books and use those for reading practice.

      Keep reading. It gets easier.

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