kinda newbie

  1. jim1966
    Hello all. I have been on again off again wanting to learn mandolin. I get started and then life intervenes. Well now I am on again. Can anyone tell me where to start or whats best to learn first etc. I am an older learner and cant read music but willing to learn. I just kind of need a roadmap. Also if anyone knows any good teachers in NE Ohio please let me know. Thank you everyone
  2. Mark Gunter
    Mark Gunter
    Welcome, Jim
  3. HonketyHank
    Well, I think most folks would say in-person, one-on-one, instruction is the best way. But there are lots of reasons that might not be available or efficient - cost, personality of student, personality of instructor, availability of instructor, etc.

    I looked around on youtube and elsewhere on the internet for free instructional material when I started six years ago at age 68. Found a lot. Some of it more valuable to me than others. Some of it I still revisit and still get good stuff out of. But the one free source I found more useful than all the others is Baron Collins-Hill at . So that's where I usually point folks. His series of technique lessons is quite good. And his lessons on individual fiddle tunes is great reference and learning material.

    But I also need to mention that (because I did not start out with in-person one-on-one instruction) I picked up some bad habits that are very difficult for me to get rid of. I tell myself that I have no hope or even desire to be able to keep up with the pros so why worry about it. But I do wish I had learned the better way to do those things. And I do work on those things.

    Here is a link that might help in learning to read music: . It starts off with the very bare minimum basics and continues step by step to way past what most of us need (or want). There are other sites that are probably just as good or better. I am lucky that I learned to read standard music notation a million years ago. But the truth is that I find tablature to be much easier when trying to learn a tune. I do use the sheet music, though -- and there is a lot of fiddle music that is notated but not tabbed.

    Welcome to the group. Don't hesitate to ask questions or make comments. We're all here because we are still having fun.
  4. Sherry Cadenhead
    Sherry Cadenhead
    Welcome, Jim! I look forward to your becoming a regular contributor (questions, videos, etc ) to the Newbies group.
  5. Southern Man
    Southern Man
    Jim, Welcome!

    I found two music schools in the general area of Northeast Ohio... and It looks like both of them work with adult beginners and I would second in person instruction being the best.

    I started with my local roots music school, but have also taken advantage of individual on-line lessons, free resources such as mandolessons, and paid content such as Artistworks and Peghead Nation. They all have advantages and disadvantages, but I think find whatever resources fit your budget/schedule/location/learning style and keep playing.
  6. Sue Rieter
    Sue Rieter
    Hey Jim, great to have more folks joining us here. I think Henry is right. Unfortunately for me, I started right as covid was cranking up. I started with, have accumulated a stack of music books, and am now using ArtistWorks. It's a slow slog. I might look for live lessons this summer, or, what I'd really like (I think), is group lessons disguised as a jam.
  7. jim1966
    Thank you everyone and please keep the suggestions coming! I appreciate any help I can get. Does anyone have suggestions where to start (scales (boring), songs etc). I am about an hour south of cleveland so any teachers in that are would be awesome since I really don't have a lot of spare time to drive an hour for a lesson. My goal is just to be a couch musician I have no illusions about being a professional I just love the mandolin and its for my own enjoyment. My daughter is an awesome musician in Nashville she is a singer songwriter and is just the best. She didn't get the talent from me I am just a lowly drummer! Thank you again
  8. Sue Rieter
    Sue Rieter
    Jim Bevan ( has some scale exercises that aren't boring at all! He's got a student page that he created just for us.
    I practice all the time with his "Scales First Position" and "Sexatonic Zigzag", mandolin and mandola.
  9. NDO
    Jim, I think keeping some fun and achievement in your playing is important for sticking with an instrument so I went the entirely fun route of just learning songs I wanted to sing, starting with the ones (NGDB, Eagles, Buffett, Denver, Jackson, Brooks, Strait) I grew up singing with the radio during my misspent youth. I just looked up chord sheets on The Google and tried them after watching a couple of super basic how-to videos. Now I am starting to back up and try to pick up some of the techniques I might have skipped, and a local mandolin player is going to sit down with me next weekend and assess where I’m at and give me some pointers... my first lesson!
    I’m sure this isn’t the smartest way to go about it but it fit my personality and has been a ton of fun. And ultimately fun is what is going to keep you playing long term.
  10. jim1966
    Thats all I am looking for is fun. Unfortunately I am terribly impatient and want to be proficient so I get frustrated. I know that this isn't logical its just my personality. The other thing is i love all types of music bluegrass classical celtic jazz and they are all different choosing something to learn is a bit confusing! lol I also find that looking up instruction on the internet can be a bit overwhelming
  11. Sue Rieter
    Sue Rieter
    I'm terribly impatient, too. (not a spring chicken any more, hah hah) And you're right, there's so many directions you can go in. Fun is the key. I have to keep telling myself that. I'm never going to be in a band, but would like to play with others.
  12. Louise NM
    Louise NM
    Hi, Jim.

    I started with the Hal Leonard book by Rich Del Grosso and thought it was very well designed. There are old-time, Celtic, and bluegrass tunes, and even one Bach minuet. Can't speak as to how it is for teaching you to read standard notation, as I came to mandolin reading fluently.

    Mel Bay publishes a lifetime's worth of instruction books. They have books devoted to learning to read music plus tune books from Renaissance to jazz. Many come with both standard notation and tab. Marilynn Mair's The Complete Mandolinist is a book you could use for the rest of your life. She leans toward classical, but the exercises and instruction in her book would be valuable for anyone.

    Finding the right teacher can be a little tricky. "Mandolin" encompasses worlds, from Vivaldi concertos to Bill Monroe with plenty of stops in between. Even so, if you can find a teacher who fits, taking at least a few lessons while starting out is valuable. HonketyHank describes exactly why in the third post.

    What have you found for a mandolin?
  13. BadExampleMan
    Welcome, Jim. Also a late starter/adult learner here. What worked for me after several years of false starts is Peghead Nation, especially Sharon Gilchrist's courses. It's not free but I found the fact that I was paying for it to be a good goad to keep me working. YMMV about that.
  14. jim1966
    Thank you again everyone for all the help. Although most look to be in standard notation which I cant read music at all. I am really looking for a "roadmap" on where to start and continue. The more I look the more overwhelmed I get. Thank you again for all the suggestions. BTW I have a beautiful distressed silverangel mandolin(thank you Ken Ratcliff) he is super awesome and if anyone looking for a great mandolin you should look him up.
  15. NDO
    What a great mandolin to start with! I’d love to try one.
  16. jim1966
    Yes it is a great mandolin! I cant say enough good things about Ken Ratcliff who built it. Just awesome guy and builds awesome instruments. Now all I have to do is learn to play the darn thing!
  17. SOMorris
    Welcome to the Newbies group, Jim. I think you are in the company of a few fellow older learners here.

    When I first started trying to play, I bought a Mel Bay book You Can Teach Yourself Mandolinby Dix Bruce. It is a farily simple little book, and starts out at the beginning. He has you strumming a couple of two finger chords and playing songs on the first "lesson." If you are going it alone, I would recommend Dix's book for a starter. I never did get all the way through, but switched to Marilynn Mair's book that Louise mentioned I like her book better, but it is a little more difficult. With my wife's help, I have learned to read and play standard notation music.

    Have fun!
  18. Louise NM
    Louise NM
    Silverangel? Good for you! I love the one I have had a chance to play.

    Don't give in to being overwhelmed. Do you have a preference for books over videos, or vice versa? Figure out which makes you more comfortable, choose a method book or a video program, and jump in. We're here to answer questions and let you know how we each got from Point A to Point A.1. If you get a beginning-level book it will explain reading notation, and you'll catch on. It's not rocket science.

    Is there a guitar shop in your area? The people there might know who teaches mandolin in the area if you want to start with lessons.
  19. Sue Rieter
    Sue Rieter
    It's not bad to look at music that has the notation on the top and the tablature underneath. You can also look at scales written in notation while you play and sing the names of the notes. I am trying to learn alto clef, and this is a helpful thing I am doing. I've also got the Circle of Fifths as the splash screen on my laptop.
  20. jim1966
    Thank you all! I am a drummer (years ago) so cant read music. I hear everyone talking about the circle of fifths and how it made a lightbulb come on but maybe i am missing something. i have tried to understand it but might as well be in greek! I did sign up for artistworks yesterday so we will see how that goes. is there anywhere that would show standard notation and where it relates to the fretboard?
  21. Sue Rieter
    Sue Rieter
    Hey Jim, consider the book Garage Band Theory by Duke Sharp. There's a couple previous threads out on the main board discussing it. You can buy it from Duke directly for much less than what they are charging on the usual online book outlet. It's a truly amazing book, and every time I pick it up I learn something new. He's got great respect for drummers, and in fact recommends that we use a book for drummers called Steps to Syncopation for the Modern Drummer when learning to count time. It's very entertaining, too. Best music book I've bought yet.
  22. Lufbery
    I'm also new, having started about a year ago. I also recommend, but I'm also really learning a lot from Brad Laird's Mandolin Treasure Chest:

    There are books, and videos, and MP3 files. Also, I've e-mailed Brad a couple of times and he's been very helpful and generous in his replies.
  23. Sue Rieter
    Sue Rieter
    Brad's podcast is really cool, too.
  24. NDO
    Jim, you asked about notes on the fretboard... Pete Martin posted this which I found helpful:

    Also I completely agree with the recommendation for Garage Band Theory, it’s one of my favorite books I’ve read of any genre. And Duke is super cool to correspond with on emails.
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