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P A Frederick
Aug-16-2010, 9:38pm
Howdy all!

So I've been playing mandolin for a while, but have kind of got out of the habit as of late. Been playing more and more though in the last few weeks. Here's my question: I know quite a few tunes and licks, but I want to be able to improvise more in a jam session or what have you. Does anyone know any good courses from maybe Homespun or somewhere else that would help. I know a lot of the scales but I have a problem incorporating the scales and licks. Maybe this is a common problem at first, I don't know. I do a pretty good job of picking put the melody and playing, but I want to play more advanced, if that sounds right.

Anyway, thanks a lot for your tips. I'm also looking for someone to jam with who is a more experienced player. I live in Flora, IL if you know anyone near here.

Ivan Kelsall
Aug-17-2010, 3:34am
As i posted in another thread on here,i'm trying to do exactly what you're attempting. The way that works for me is the same way that worked for me when i taught myself Banjo,simply listen to & copy some of your favourite tunes / songs including the Mandolin breaks. Pretty soon you have a bag of 'licks' derived from these tunes - your 'tools', which you can then use in your 'own way' to improvise. Also ,when you know a tune / song well enough through lots of playing,you'll get your own ideas in your head as to what you can do re.improvisation.
If you're lucky enough to get to be able to 'jam' with other players on a regular basis,listen to their styles & try to fit in your playing to suit them. That's another way to take you 'outside yourself' & give you different ideas on tunes & songs.
Being able to improvise well is an art in itself & it's so easy to go OTT with all the 'twiddly' bits as i call 'em. It is almost a case of 'less is more' (or can be). I've heard breaks on all Bluegrass instruments that were dreadful in the way that the player was trying to cram as many notes into the break as they could. Even then i suppose, that's their individuality coming through. Take your time & you'll get there as i hope i will eventually - but it's fun doing it,
Ivan

onassis
Aug-17-2010, 6:10am
A relatively new book called "The Mandolin Picker's Guide To Bluegrass Improvisation" has been getting positive reviews. Haven't seen it myself, but I'm thinking of giving it a whirl.

pickloser
Aug-17-2010, 7:41am
I have "The Mandolin Picker's Guide To Bluegrass Improvisation," and I think it has helped me improve my BG improv.

AlanN
Aug-17-2010, 7:56am
I get a lot out of checking out other pickers' styles, to...ahem...borrow some of what catches my ear. For instance, someone posted a youtube of Moon Walk Brock's take on Road To Columbus. I have picked this number forever, but I did manage to lift something from Jesse's intro and his higher register finger acrobatics on the back half of his breaks.

Another recent thing is on Wakefield's Mexican Stomp, a quirky number that I stole a descending run he does, for use in another tune. I'm sure Frank will mind...

There's always something...

Andrew DeMarco
Aug-17-2010, 8:18am
There's something to be said for approaches like FFcP (http://www.jazzmando.com/ffcp.shtml) to tie fingers to scale tones. I'm really, really enjoying FFcP up the neck:grin:. The patterns generalize everywhere...:disbelief: and when in doubt I've come to know I can play in a scale as a framework...

Pete Martin
Aug-17-2010, 2:02pm
Might want to look at my book, "Mandolin and Fiddle Improvisation Using The Chord Tone Scale". It is a free download at the website listed below.

tree
Aug-17-2010, 3:32pm
I get a lot out of checking out other pickers' styles, to...ahem...borrow some of what catches my ear. For instance, someone posted a youtube of Moon Walk Brock's take on Road To Columbus. I have picked this number forever, but I did manage to lift something from Jesse's intro and his higher register finger acrobatics on the back half of his breaks.

Another recent thing is on Wakefield's Mexican Stomp, a quirky number that I stole a descending run he does, for use in another tune. I'm sure Frank will mind...

There's always something...

Guilty as charged. And it's not limited to mandolin thievery - the good stuff is there for the taking from any instrument. Even the masters do it - on the Doc and Dawg disc (one of my all time favorites), near the end of Bluegrass Stomp, David Grisman quotes an Earl Scruggs banjo lick that is so cool it makes me drool...

Mandolin Mick
Aug-17-2010, 3:37pm
Probably the best advice to give you is ... know the Pentatonic Scale like the back of your hand. Can't play a wrong note with the Pentatonic scale.

BluegrassWarehouse
Aug-27-2010, 8:37pm
For jam sessions, hopefully you are familiar with the jam sessions at Charley Brown Park. The next one is September 24 and 25th. I think they still have jam sessions on Tuesdays at one of the buildings there, although I can't think of the name of it. It is on the south side of the road. I believe it is the Rotary or Elks building or something. Not too far from Grandma's restaurant. I've never been there, so can't tell you what they are like (the building where the jams are; I've been to Grandma's).

You might also check with Steve Gill at Gill Manufacturing. He plays banjo and makes resonators for a lot of the top banjo companies. His shop is acrosss from Wal-Mart and his number is 618-662-6128. You may be able to get with him and others and jam.

Lance