View Full Version : Mandolin Pedagogy

May-19-2004, 10:40am
After wallowing in mando-ignorance for an eternity, I try to learn a thing or two about the proper playing of the instrument.

Trouble is (as with pedagogical materials for many other instruments), the "middle ground" is the hardest one to define and cultivate, IMHO. In other words: You get, on one end, basic method books, "scale books" as they were called in my days; on the other end, all those Transcendental Etudes of sorts, which a good-intentioned amateur like myself will never, ehm... transcend any time, not in THIS lifetime.

So, then, the question: What materials, in your opinion, constitute this most important, middle ground of mandolin pedagogy? Goichberg? Munier? (the first volumes, that is) Stauffer? I just wouldn't know...

May-19-2004, 11:18am
Personally, I think the Gertrud Troester, vol. 2, and especially the Wilda-Husgen (Mandolin Studies) are appropriate choices; ditto, Goichberg. All three can be had from Plucked String (with a lengthy shipping time on items #1,#2); or by airmail (very quick but expensive) from www.trekel.de. Munier is also fine.

Jim Garber
May-19-2004, 11:56am
I have always felt that almost every method has some parts that are worthwhile. I sometimes skip around to the ones I like. I had always thought that the perfect method would take parts form other methods and indeed that it what folks who wrote these oftne did. You find lots of violin eutdes adapted for mandolin as well as pieces simplified for the approriate playing levels.

I also like Goichberg a lot since it has wonderful melodies and makes me feel like I am not really practicing. http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif

I very much like Munier's Lo Scioglidita as well as his 12 Capricci, op. 17. Challenging enough for me but not so overwhelming that I couldn't attempt them.


May-19-2004, 12:10pm
Thanks to Jim, I am a great fan of Stauffer's 30 Progressive Studies. Stauffer assumes you come to mandolin with a basic knowledge of music and technique. The early studies I think could be comfortably classified in that middle-ground nether region, but he moves comfortably into the realm of Lisztian transcendentalism by the end. Some of Stauffer's concert-grade stuff is simply physically uncomfortable for my feeble left hand efforts.

I also like Siegel's Special Studies. Some of this is pretty difficult, but none of it really approaches transcendental.

I still don't have the Goichberg studies. I think that will have to be on my next order to Plucked String.

May-19-2004, 12:58pm
Of course, you would expect this suggestion from me but I was raised on Bickford and Pettine, with a good dosage of Munier (the studies in all the keys) and some Calace (concert pieces). Scales are always helpful but the most difficult part of mandolin playing is the right hand. You absolutely must deal with this mechanism at some point. Pettine's volume on the right hand mechanism is by far the most thorough, you hardly need to look elswhere. Some of the 18th century stuff by Gervasio, Leone is also valuable but requires an established right hand to make the most of it. With respects to left hand, there is so much out there that can be used, some borrowed from the violin, some specifically dealing with the mandolin (Stauffer comes to mind). Scales and chord configurations, keeping the movement of the fingers as economical as possible (that means, not lifting them too high off the fingerboard). I would practice left hand pizz as well (you get requests for this all the time in Calace and Abt), pulloffs are another term for this when used melodically rather than as accompaniment. Goichberg studies are enjoyable but I wouldn't use them as core material for technical development.

May-19-2004, 6:17pm
I agree with RSW re: Pettine's volume on right hand technique, and on Leone and Gervasio (some of which is covered in the German methods I mentioned earlier). Also, I just downloaded the Lansing "Special Studies" from Djangobooks.com and they are excellent (and cheap).

May-20-2004, 9:50am
Thank you all. I suppose I am currently on this middle ground (i.e. Munier, etc.)

Of course, the operative phrase in RSW's valuable comment is [QUOTE]"... I was raised..." my point being that most of us were raised doing entirely different things than playing mandolin— even in the case of those of us who were raised playing other, mechanically different instruments.

So, off to catch up!

May-21-2004, 11:05am
Oh, question for RSW or anyone informed with such mando-savvy: Which text is [QUOTE]"Pettine's volume on the right hand mechanism"? Is is a particular volume of his Method? Is it some other, free-standing text, as it were?

Alas, my only Pettine ("Pettinean"?) possession is Vol. I of the Method, which I appreciate greatly. How/where is said text to be found?

May-21-2004, 11:14am
Here is the catalog listing from OSU's music library (http://library.osu.edu/sites/music/):
Author: Pettine, Giuseppe
Title Pettine's modern mandolin school / by Giuseppe Pettine
Publish info: Providence, R.I.: Rhode Island Music Co. [19--?]
Edition: Rev. and enlarged ed
Description: 7 v.: music, ill. ; 31 cm
Notes: Title from cover; Some volumes have title pages and text in English, Italian, and German; Pettine's Duo style has date of 1905 in the preface
Contents: [v.1]. Fundamental principles of mandolin playing -- [v.2-3]. Pettine's modern mandolin school (2 v.) -- [v.4]. Pettine's duo style of mandolin playing -- [v.5]. The mandolin's right and left hand harmonics -- [v.6]. Modern system of the plectrum's mechanism -- [v.7]. Duo primer: a collection of America's, England's, Scotland's and Ireland's best songs for unaccompanied mandolin, with preparatory exercises
Subjects: Mandolin -- Instruction and study; Mandolin -- Methods
Other titles: Modern mandolin school
OCLC: # 47093224

As you can see, vol. 6 is "Modern System of the plectrum's mechanism." You can sometimes buy the full set of Pettine's method from Norman Levine at Plucked String, Inc. (http://www.mandolincafe.com/strings/) I know he recently had three sets on hand, but I suspect they've all been sold by now.