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Thread: Learning Aids

  1. #1
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    Default Learning Aids

    I was looking for a recommendation on a book to learn from. I have an Old-Time Country Mandolin book by Bob Seeger but after the second lesson or so it makes a massive jump in difficulty. I can play chords easily but I struggle with some of the fundamentals of picking and crosspicking. I am coming from a violin background so I don't think that I need a kids book or anything too basic but a wholistic course would be nice. I'm on a tight budget since this is something I picked up while I was unemployed.

  2. #2
    Registered User John Flynn's Avatar
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    Default Re: Learning Aids

    I think it depends on what you want to learn. If you are looking for a comprehensive mandolin method, my instructor, who is a pretty accomplished player, says Marilyn Mair's book is the most complete and modern method book out there. He says it can give any player years worth of stuff to work on and it covers everything a good player needs to know. I have it and I'm working on it, but there is a LOT there.

    If you just want to quickly learn a repertoire of fiddle tunes, I recommend "Teach Yourself Bluegrass Mandolin" by Andy Statman. What I like about it is:
    1. It contains a lot of the "must know" old-time and bluegrass favorites
    2. It has a CD that both demonstrates each tune, but also has a backing track for you to play along with
    3. Each tune has both a simplified "bare bones" version and a more complex version you can use for solos and embellishments as you get more sophisticated
    4. I don't have it in front of me, but I think it has both notation and tab
    5. It is less than $15

    The only criticism is that the CD tracks are played at a pretty good clip for a beginner. It would be good to have a computer program that will slow stuff down without changing the pitch. There are a few good programs out there you could buy, but I think Windows Media Player and a few free media players will do it also.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Learning Aids

    "Best Practice" is a good free Shareware app that I use.

  4. #4
    man about town Markus's Avatar
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    Default Re: Learning Aids

    Check your local library system. Ours has three general mandolin method books, I found them worthwhile checking out.

    Also had the Thile and Sam Bush DVD's.

    I know I got a ton out of Mike Marshall's DVD 1 and 2.
    Breedlove OF
    Schmergl Devastator

  5. #5
    mando-evangelist August Watters's Avatar
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    Default Re: Learning Aids

    Quote Originally Posted by JGregs View Post
    I can play chords easily but I struggle with some of the fundamentals of picking and crosspicking.
    Pick direction is extremely important, and one of the most common technical problems I see. Make sure you're playing DOWN on the beat and UP off the beat:

    1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +
    D U D U D U D U

    Next, try playing open strings or scales or arpeggios using this rhythm:

    1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +
    D r D U D r D U


    So you're resting on "1-and" and 3-and". This makes your pick keep moving -- don't let the pick stop and reverse directions when it's resting, just keep moving the same direction as if it was picking a note on that beat.

    I hope this helps!

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