View Full Version : Beginners

Mar-19-2004, 9:55am
I'm curious to know how long each of us has been playing music. I know some have answered this but i'd like to get a more complete idea (just to appease my personal curiosity)...

so humor me if you will. http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif

I started playin' guitar about 5 years ago, no teacher, no pickin', just strummin' chords and playin' rythms

I got laid off last january from a start up internet company (go figure huh?) and my girlfriend bought me my Fender FM-52E and a bert casey book to pass the time. I haven't put that sucker down since i got it. Guitar never gripped me like pickin' mando. I played baseball from age 6 to age 18 and wanted to be a major leaguer as bad as any kid. Since then I've never had a passion or wanted to be as good at something till mandolin came around. Also i would have never got interested in it if it weren't for the grateful dead. Huh? What? yeah the grateful dead alright:

Dead->Garcia-Grisman->Old & In the Way->the whole world of bluegrass!

Just thought i'd contribute a little to the community spirit.


Mar-19-2004, 10:26am
I started studying classical violin about 4 years ago, and after two years I gave it up in favor of the more relaxed feel of the mandolin. So that makes it two years I've been playing the mandolin. I never took lessons; I just transferred when I knew about the violin and taught myself from then on.

Mar-19-2004, 12:10pm
I started playing the guitar in 1995, but changed it for the mandolin one year later. so I've played for 7 years but with many, many breaks due to my very busy life. The last couple of years I've played very irregularly so I'm not as good as one should be after seven years. I can't wait til graduation so I'll have time to play more seriously!

Michael H Geimer
Mar-19-2004, 3:15pm
I took guitar lessons for about 4 years starting in ... '84, I guess. I switched over to playing keyboards when I joined 'band life'. (Hey, it was the '80's) After a dozen or so years in the band, I came back to playing acoustic guitar ... just few years ago. Took up the mandolin about a year and half back.

Bluegrasstjej said something in an other thread about 'the sorts of things you learn in a band'. True. I'm not very techincally accomplished on any instrument, but I sure learned a bunch from playing in bands. Great practical stuff that really helps me to fit in with other players.

- Benignus

Mar-19-2004, 4:35pm
i've been playing for almost a year. #it is too much fun to put it down. #i owned a guitar for about 7 years but it didn't come out of the case for about 6 and half of those years. #it just didn't appeal to me as much as the mando. #i started playing again when i started camping at bluegrass festivals after days of climbing. #this weekend there is a climbing competition at horse pens 40 in alabama. #one of my friends put it together. #climbing from 9 'til 3 and bands from 1 'til . . . . #i'm not climbing but i'll be doin' a little of this #http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/mandosmiley.gif

Mar-19-2004, 4:58pm
I played a brass instrument for 5 years from 7-12, had a two year break, started on mando 8 months ago, not looked back and havent put it down since. Ive just finished learning thile 'when mandolins dream' and now starting on the solo for ode to a butterfly.

Mar-19-2004, 6:22pm
I started playing guitar in 1972, never took lessons...just played with friends or roomates....over the years, I would play for a while if I had someone availiable to play with and if alone would put it down for a year or two at a time.....3 years ago....started playing with my brothers wife(violin/fiddle) which took me in new directions and rekindled interest..2 years ago we joined with a Celtic singer and bodhran player ..even newer music..so last year I bought a cheap mandolin and taught myself to play two or three songs...one of which we used to open our performance with...I have not done any serious praciting until this project came along....and find that I am truly enjoying the challlenge and structure that it gives me.

So now I am having a renaissance(sp).....have a blast learning and watching everyone else learn too.


Mar-19-2004, 7:38pm
I'm curious to know how long each of us has been playing music.
About 30 years ago I played trumpet in the school band for a coupla years and then nothing until a few months back when I bought my mandolin.
Aside from liking music in general, I probably got the idea from a childhood memory of my late uncle playing a mando at family gatherings.
In my case, I am finding the mechanics and memory of making notes very difficult to do and get very frustrated with the cruddy non-musical noises that I produce. *sigh*
It must be great to have others around that one can play with and learn - heck, I have never even seen a "jam" nor do I know of any others who play.
It is causing my practice to deteriorate because I am not getting the buzz of "having fun" doing it - I think it is only my stubborness that keeps me going.
The folks in this forum who are calling themselves "beginners" are definitely NOT so in my eyes and ears.
That said, I am glad that they are here... I have really appreciated hearing their recordings - particularly the ones without all the extras added in.
Musical stuff is nice, but I think the singular mando tracks are more useful in a beginners exercise; it really helps a novice like myself understand it a bit better.

Mar-19-2004, 10:07pm
I've been playing a little over a year -- maybe 14 months? Like many of you, I started on another instrument when I was a kid -- guitar in my case (I was a HUGE John Denver fan, had the round glasses and everything, LOL). Took lessons off and on for a while, but never had the discipline to really practice as I should have, so never got much beyond an advanced-beginner level....

There's something about the mandolin though, that's inspired me to find the discipline to practice regularly -- I can only manage to squeeze in about an hour a day #but I do try to make a point of carving out that time every day.

On a little side note, I haven't played my guitar in quite some time, but just picked it up again last week so I could create a rhythm track for Sally G. Felt really good to play it again -- all I needed was a good enough reason! http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/mandosmiley.gif


Mar-20-2004, 3:21am
I played the trumpet for a couple years back in junior high. About three years ago I got interested in bluegrass and started playing rhythm guitar. That was my main thing for about a year. I made an attempt at learning to play the banjo, but never got very far with it, played it off and on for a few months.

About a year and a half ago or so I bought a mandolin on a whim, mostly because there were always so many guitar players at the jams I went to and I wanted something I could play when the jams were in guitar overload mode. I've rarely picked up the guitar since :>

It took me about four months to even start attempting to play lead, I never played lead on guitar, so I started out just chopping chords on the mando. Eventually I took a couple lessons to get me started on scales and such and mostly from there it's been learning by watching and listening to others.

I'm starting to transfer some of the lead stuff i've learned on mando back over to guitar and I have a fiddle that I play very badly http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif

I really see the mandolin as being more of a lifestyle now than a hobby and I'm very glad that it came into my life.

Mar-20-2004, 10:43am
I started playing guitar in 1975 at age 9. Never took lessons, just bought some John Denver song books and records/tapes and went from there. I wish now I'd have taken some lessons back then. I bought my first mandolin about a year ago, and I've really loved it. I had figured out some basic music theory through the years playing guitar, but when I started the mando I actually put some effort into learning scales and studying theory a little bit. I wish I'd had taken some guitar lessons when I was a kid. What took me years to figure out on my own could have been learned much quicker with real study. I also wish I would have had professional instructors on DVD and internet resources like the Cafe back then! Technology has certainly made it easier to learn on my own with the mando.

I will always love my guitar, but there is something about the mandolin that gets you hooked (as others have mentioned). I don't know what it is, but it's pretty cool.

Martin Jonas
Mar-20-2004, 3:29pm
I've been playing mandolin since last June, i.e. for about nine months now. It's my first instrument; I had been meaning to learn to play music before, but never got around to it. The mandolin runs in the family, though: the mandolin I learnt to play on is my grandfather's old flattop from the 1930s and my mother has been playing an Italian bowlback for fifty years, although very infrequently. Over the last nine months, since I started to learn it, she has been playing more as well; as we have both drifted towards bluegrass and Celtic material, we have both bought carved mandolins last month: I got a 1989 Washburn M3-SW and I bought a new Kentucky KM-380s for my mother. You can hear both the Washburn and the old flattop on the MP3 I've just uploaded.


Mar-20-2004, 5:37pm
How long playing mandolin? Well, I first bought one back in 1985, but only played one song on it (a really bad version of Soldiers Joy) until I started taking it more seriously around 1990. I had a roommate who played banjo, and we started going to the San Jose bluegrass jams. I did that off and on for about a year, but I never learned more than a dozen tunes, and I was never very fast.

I switched over to guitar and have played that ever since. I decided I'd like to play in a group or band of some kind, and I'm nowhere near a good enough guitar player for that. Mandolin players are a bit more scarce, so I thought I'd switch back to mandolin.

My Gibson A-12 is having the neck reset, so I just bought a 1954 Martin A-style mandolin so that I can keep playing. What a lovely instrument to play! I guess it has a slightly shorter scale; I just find it much easier to play.

So I'm starting early on next month's beginner tune, since the votes clearly favor Cherokee Shuffle. Glad I missed Sally Goodin, that tune looks too tough for me!


Mar-20-2004, 6:03pm
I started playing guitar in 2002, and it was my main instrument until I took up Mandolin in early '03. Never took lessons. In fact, now I'm giving lessons! http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/laugh.gif I have a Fender FM-53S, but I will be moving 'up the ladder' to an F-style this year, probably to a Michael Kelly, Morgan Monroe, or Washburn. I just started playing the Banjo. But I don't play Guitar or Banjer near as much as the Mandolin. I love to play Mando; I play all day and all night. (Well, not really, but a lot! http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/wink.gif http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/mandosmiley.gif )

Don Christy
Mar-21-2004, 11:01am
I started on electric guitar about 10 years ago. Took lessons for six months and then had to stop the lessons. Put down the guitar soon after and hardly ever picked it up. I even sold the amp, so I didn't have a very fun (loud) way to play.

I got my mandolin last November. Started lessons right away and have been loving it. I've been able to go to a couple of jam sessions and really like this song project as well.

I really try to play at least an hour a day and still take 1 weekly lesson. I've been enjoying the mando so much that I decided to try and play with my guitar again. Ended up buying a little 15 watt practice amp.

Funny thing is that my dog Scout doesn't like the mando, but seems to not mind the electric guitar. Go figure.

Mar-22-2004, 2:48am
back in the mid '70s, during high school, i took up 5 string banjo (there i said it! bwahahaha...) BUT... the only instructor around was this small, frail, OLD italian fellow named Tony Fazio. he taught on the second floor of this old dark building in Oakland. studied with him almost 2 years. although i stuck with banjo and guitar for many years, i did pick up mando in the mid eighties for awhile, then left it for many years (another story) and picked it up again 2 months ago. but this story is REALLY about Tony Fazio...

he grew up in Italy, and had two loves in life. cutting hair and playing mando (i SWEAR!). at about age 7 he sold all his toys and bought his first mando. in his early 20's (?) he came to America, and set up a barber shop in N.Y. city and joined a mando band. he eventually came west, settled in Oakland Calif., raised a family, cut hair and played in several local mando bands. eventually went to teaching music (all instruments wind and string), till he started to go deaf =( i was living out of town when he retired and closed shop. Tony, wherever you are, i am playing mandolin, not as well as you, but i still hear your playing drifting down the dark wooden hallways outside your studio. thanks....

Mar-22-2004, 12:26pm
Great story...especially the part about him selling all his toys to buy his first mandolin.

That's a great memory to have!


Mar-22-2004, 10:25pm
Took recorder in 3rd grade in approx. 1979. My only experience in trying to read music.
Picked up an acoustic guitar in college. Dormed with 6 guys who played (one amazingly).
He also played mando, and that put a bug in my ear.
Picked up a mando 8 years ago. Learned the 2 finger G,C, and D chords.
Didn't play it much.
Got serious-er (more serious!) with it 2 years ago, but really picked it up and started practicing less than last year, trying to play melodies and stuff instead of strumming, and got my new F-style last summer. Now I'm smitten.

Mar-23-2004, 2:16am
thank you Carolyn,
honest to God true story, as he told it to me. one of those things, how a person can inspire you, and how much you realize you appreciate them later.
always remember to thank these folks when you come across them, there's not many like them in this world...

John Ritchhart
Mar-24-2004, 4:49am
I prefer the term "novice" since I've owned my mando for over ten years. 10 or twelve lessons over the years and one great camp with Niles. I'm now reaching that point where I can actually practice more often and am really starting to enjoy it. I look at this as retirement investment. Not much talent but great appreciation.
"God help me, but I do love it so" - George C. Scott

Mar-29-2004, 2:02pm
This month is my one year anniversary! Never played anything before, but figured (at age 37) if I was going to learn an instrument I'd better get started. It's been great--I play just about every day, and I'm very pleased with my modest progress. What a great feeling, and a great way to enjoy your time.


Mar-29-2004, 4:24pm
Picked it up four months ago, and have a hard time putting it down. I've just about completed Bert Casey's Primer, and am learning, ever so slowly, to read music. My goal is to be the world's oldest child prodigy. I'm 45 and counting...:p

Apr-02-2004, 12:00am
long time harmonica player, picked up a mando 2 years ago this week (my mandoversary), and haven't put it down since.

Apr-05-2004, 2:42pm
Started playing drums in 6th grade and played throughout college (drum corps, rudimental style). #Marching snare is not the most musical insturment so unless you are playing with a full drumline it's not all that fun.. I grew up listening to bluegrass and most of my family played when I was young, so I asked around and ended up with my grandfathers old mando, #picked out "Hush little Baby" #(My first is due in Sept.) and have been playing everyday since. I bought a km-380s and started taking lessons. I'm hooked!!

Apr-05-2004, 6:32pm
Hey Hondo
I'm 47 and got both a fiddle and a guitar 6 months ago, now my mandolin is arriving on Thursday. I may never be a prodigy but will I ever have a ball of fun trying. I love the fiddle, and I'm starting to get a little better on it. I'm very so-so on guitar, just know a few basic chords. I was told the mando was easier than fiddle, and just as much fun, so my son is coming home from University for Easter and bringing my new mandolin with him. Can't wait, husband is gonna freak out if I buy any more instruments. I think I also suffer from MAS (Music Acquisition Syndrome) cause I spend hours on the Internet downloading midi's, tabs, lyrics etc for all three of my instruments! But since I got serious about things the last couple of months, the music reading has really come along, I can figure out a lot of notation with just a little trial and error.
Good luck on the child prodigy quest! Last year when my 20 yr old son was VERY ill with cancer, his doctor told him it was refreshing to see that he was still a question mark. Too many people go through life as a period and stop learning. Those of us (like yourself) who are still question marks will always enjoy learning and will always have the child in us keeping us young!!