In my singing warm-ups I sing major scales. The other day I tried to sing a minor scale and I couldn't. In fact I physically couldn't sing any note outside of the major scale. Though I know there are two semitones between most scale notes, and even though I can slide between those notes, I literally cannot sing any chromatic tones.

Reason says the major scale is just convention and I can sing fractional or chromatic tones just as easily... Right?

  • Mandela Effect... :P Jan 11, 2017 at 0:57
  • 1
    What if you sing C major starting on A? Jan 11, 2017 at 3:30
  • Then I sing A Major
    – Mr. Boy
    Jan 11, 2017 at 8:54
  • @Mr.Boy no, If you sing all of the notes in a C major scale starting on A you are singing an A minor scale Jan 11, 2017 at 11:05
  • 2
    No, you asked what happens if I do it. What happens is I'm unable to sing anything other than the major scale starting on my first note
    – Mr. Boy
    Jan 11, 2017 at 11:18

3 Answers 3


I am assuming your quesiton is "Why can't I sing scales other than major and minor easily?"

They should not all be the same difficulty. The fact is the vast majority of children's songs and folk songs use the major scale. You just have more experience with it than any others.

You should try learning them with reference. play the first five noted of a minor scale and sing along in different keys until you can do it without reference. then add on the rest of the natural minor.

Do the same thing with any scale you want to learn. Take it in parts. Aural training requires about as much work as actually playing your instruments especially in the beginning. You should also learn to sing individual intervals as well as scales.

  • It just seems very odd that if I can slide between C and D, I can't stop part-way.
    – Mr. Boy
    Jan 11, 2017 at 8:55
  • Not really. When I ask my violin students to sing between C and C# they usually have trouble imagining what I mean let alone singing it. After a little explaining they can usually sing it with reference. After a few weeks then they can do it if they think about it. If they keep practicing they get good enough to spit that space up several times even. So no it is not surprising. I sounds like you need to sing with reference exclusively a bit. Do you have absolute pitch by any chance? Jan 11, 2017 at 11:41
  • OP states he can't sing minor scales easily. Apparently does not have need to split down to less than semitones.
    – Tim
    Jan 11, 2017 at 13:08
  • @Tim I know. He said "It just seems very odd that if I can slide between C and D, I can't stop part-way." To which I responded it isn't odd. I get students who can sing notes and slide between them without stopping all the time. Jan 11, 2017 at 13:10
  • Yet the OP can sing B then C, E then F (in C scale)? Don't understand the OP's problem entirely.
    – Tim
    Jan 11, 2017 at 13:59

When singing a major scale, you do sing semitones, between 3>4 and 7>8. Must be done.

In the first 5 notes of a minor scale, only one is different from the major. The third. Surely you must be able to hear that it's different. It's the main reason that makes a tune minor rather than major. Concentrate on that difference and it'll help a lot. Listen to it in minor melodies.

If you can sing a major scale, then you must be able to at least sing a natural minor scale. Same notes, different root. Simply go up and down a major, and after a few times, add an extra note. Not C>C>C, but C>D>C, over one octave. Then C>E>C until you can climb back safely. Then do the opposite, C>C>B and if you need, back to C When you can start at A, and stop at A an octave higher, it's done.

Pretty much all we hear and sing is in major, so we're brainwashed to its sound. Listen for a week to only minor songs, sing only a five finger excercise in minor.

Don't get bogged down with melodic for a good while - use harmonic only.

When you do look at melodic, think there's only one note different from major going up - the 3rd - so that's hardly a tripping point, because by now, you've immersed yourself in natural minor, with the same lower 5 notes.

As much as anything, it could be fear of the unknown - 'this will be difficult, so I'd better struggle with it'.

Lastly, get used to singing a chromatic scale, starting anywhere in tessitura, and singing a few notes, along with an instrument.

Once you've done all this, it's a good time to visit modes, as that, to a degree, is what you've been singing. Your teacher will explain all that, and it's useful to any singer to be able to understand what they are and how they work.


Have a keyboard next to you? Play each note of scale starting from the first degree and up and then back down and sing each note until you ear gets used to it, then try to sing the scale up and down without the help of the piano. Keep doing that.

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