Re: Should a Serious Mandolin Player Learn Classical?
If all learning is relevent, then of course you have to learn it all. Getting good at it all is entirely different. Jon's assumption is that we WANT to play it all and play it all brilliantly.
I find myself content to be a strong intermediate player of ITM, although I would, of course, like to get better. Pedagogy doesn't help me there. Knowing why my husband's A-minor-diminished-seventh chord works (or doesn't) when I'm playing a jig is not necessary for me to play in session. Being able to sight read (which I do fairly well) doesn't let my mandolin triumph over the uilleann piper sitting beside me or the bodhran behind me. There are no solo improvisional riffs in ITM, just additional diddly bits I can toss in on the occasional down beat. My music sounds pretty stark when compared with the professionals (or when you compare it with jazz or bluegrass) but it fits what I do. I'm a pure amateur and have no delusions of giving up my day job to make a name for myself in music of any kind. I'm lucky if I can make a local name for myself in my own profession, and I've been doing it for more than 35 years!
As for the professionals, I do agree that the bar is being set higher all the time and if you want to compete on that level, you have to be able to compete all the way. Competition is about advantage anyway, and learning classical pedagogy and technique gives an advantage nobody wants to ignore. But I will make a plea on behalf of the non-traditional musician (the one-genre wonder or the ear-learner). When "real" music gets too sophisticated, too perfect, too confining, it becomes a museum piece and any advancement will come from the ranks of the untrained who hear a different sound. That's been the pattern so far, at least as much as I understand it. My opinion, of course, fwiw.
1920 Lyon & Healy bowlback
1983 Giannini ABSM1 bandolim
2006 Rogue (my toy)
2009 Giannini GBSM3 bandolim
2011 Eastman MD305