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Thread: Any women out there playing mandolin?

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    I'm a 40+ woman in a bluegrass gospel group. I'd just like hopefully chat with someone likewise..Oh, I love the guys too, but I'd be fun to chat with a female mando player!
    Thanks
    "It's All About Eternity"

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    _________________ grandmainger's Avatar
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    Loads of contributions on these cafe threads

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    Registered User shiloh's Avatar
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    Hi Angelfire,

    A while back there was a lengthly post of women mando players who responded to a similar question. #Maybe a search would show the thread? Email me if you'd like

    There are a bunch of us around!

    Blessings,
    Jill
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    Violins and Mandolins Stephanie Reiser's Avatar
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    Yep, we had quite a good thread about female mandolin players. You would think that more women played mandolin because of our smaller hands. I am amazed at the BG jams at some of the huge men with ham-fists, that play mandolin really well. I guess it takes practice. At the jams there is a ratio of maybe 50/50 male to female mando players. Although I have played the guitar since I was a teen, I have only played mando for the last year and a half. If you want to chat, feel free to do so.
    Stephanie
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    The only significant thing I have noticed as the difference between the sexes is that woman seem to invariably be the ones playing rhythm and back-up in a jam while the guys take the solos....

    And I also want to know the answer to that age-old question -- "How come little bitty woman end up being the string bass players in groups?" --someone explain that to me...

    But, oh yes, we is out there....
    "It's all good -- even when it's not."

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    I have been learning mandolin for about a year and two months now. I will continue to learn how to play it for the rest of my life.
    You are only young once, but you can be immature forever.

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    Registered User jim_n_virginia's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by (elenbrandt-redux @ July 01 2005, 12:14)
    And I also want to know the answer to that age-old question -- "How come little bitty woman end up being the string bass players in groups?" --someone explain that to me...
    So strange... I never thought about this but it is so true. I go to Bluegrass Festivals and almost invariably the upright bass player is a female. AND... she is almost always married to the lead singer or the leader of the band?!?!?! Hmmm why is this?!?!?!

    And this leads me to my NEXT comment/question .... I have sworn that my NEXT girlfriend is gonna either play the mandolin or the fiddle, no more getting mad at me for going to too many jams or practicing too much!

    WHERE are all you mandolin playing gals (I'll settle for a fiddle player) here in Virginia??

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    Americana in France? Daniel Nestlerode's Avatar
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    Far be it from me to answer for the entirety of the fair sex, but there were lots of women at the Mandolin Symposium, a few girls (under 18) too.

    Off the top of my head:
    Carol, Brenda, Mary, Sharon, Lisa, Heather, Sarah, Jewel, Nancy... (and please forgive me if I've forgotten anyone I met and jammed or chatted with)

    Daniel

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    Oh yes, oh yes! My name really means "bluegrass gal" in Swedish. Have been playing the mandolin for 9 years this year (what a horror! and I'm not better than this!). I have a Gold Tone F and a Washburn A.
    Amanda Lyn, that mandolin is very very nice looking!! What kind of mando is it?

  10. #10
    Violins and Mandolins Stephanie Reiser's Avatar
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    Bluegrasstjej,it is one of my own making. I build mandolins. Actually, it was the first one I had ever built.

    Thank you.
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    Well this is my first post on the message board as a new member, but yes I'm a gal, and I play mandolin, guitar, old time fiddle, and mandolin. But in most bands that I've been in I'm usually on the bass. I have been working hard on mandolin the last two years and I play a Cole F5. A fantastic loud mandolin, and fun to play because I can get the nice chops, and can play with lower action still getting a super tone out of the mandolin, with little effort. Anyway yes I'm a small gal and yes I do play the string bass, and yes it does seem like us gals are on bass a lot of the time. Not that I mind though as I love playing it equally as much as I do the others. Recently though I'm getting to play more mandolin in some of the bands, and it's been a great new venture for me, playing some lead stuff.
    Raynae Redman

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    String-Bending Heretic mandocrucian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by
    The only significant thing I have noticed as the difference between the sexes is that woman seem to invariably be the ones playing rhythm and back-up in a jam while the guys take the solos....
    At least in the "system" of teaching mandolin/music that I've devised, the women students seem to do quite well. Whether it's just the students I've drawn (a filtering effect having to do with my course descriptions/teaching style) or a representative sampling of female players and their reactions, there's no way of determining, but the following trends seem to emerge:

    1) they come with less preconceptions as to what/how they expect to be taught; will tend to delay/suspend judgement and "go with the program" if it's different that what they were expecting

    2) not as likely to be distracted by the need for instant gratification of a dozen hot licks rather than the less glamorous but more useful/versatile foundational/conceptional material

    3) if they're not getting it, won't try to hide it; gives me the chance to clarify or approach the problem from a different angle so they do start getting the concept. (the whole "lost and asking for directions" thing)

    4) receptive to the holistic big picture approach of hand/ear/mind interconnectivity and how (the same) underlying ideas can manifest themself in various forms in different styles.

    I made the mention of this phenomenna to one woman (a former elementary school teacher) who did a 3-day intensive session, and her take on the gender differences in thought was: "Let me show you what I do" vs. "Show me what I should be doing."

    Of course, when they work on the stuff and go back to their home-town jams, and start taking solos, or do driving Ry Cooderish backup/accompaniment, the vibe is likely to change if cages get rattled.

    Niles H

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    I am a woman in western Canada. I have only been playing for a few months. I am not too familar with the logistics of who ends up where in a band situation. My husband plays bass in a band, but it's all guys. I do love the mandolin and hope someday to be good enough and brave enough to play in front of an audience.

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    The mandolin world is changing in many ways, one of which is an infusion of amazing young female players. Watch out for Eva Scow. She is a monster player, focussing mainly on Choro music, but skilled at many styles. Amazing player. Also coming up the ranks are very young players like Sara Jaroz from Texas and quite a handful more. The Mandolin Symposium had a good number of women, young and older, playing extremely well.
    Patrice
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    Default Re: Any women out there playing mandolin?

    I'm one!

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    Played guitar since I was a kid (11-12 years old - in the 1960s EVERYONE played guitar,) recently (2 months ago) took up mandolin. We are out here (and I am no longer a kid!) LOL!!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Stephanie Reiser View Post
    I am amazed at the BG jams at some of the huge men with ham-fists, that play mandolin really well. I guess it takes practice.
    The real reason - and I say this here even though it's the Holy Grail of secrets about playing the mandolin, because I assume people here are definitely interested in learning how to play mandolin, and I'm all for that - is this:

    It doesn't matter how big your hands are or how fat your fingers are. You can put your fingers anywhere on the fretboard as long as they don't go over the fret you are using. It's almost painfully obvious, but a lot of people (OK, probably not musicians) just can't seem to figure this out. You don't have to fit your fingertips in between the frets. What goes on behind the fret in use doesn't matter, not a bit. Sometimes my fingers may be smeared over two frets behind the fret - doesn't affect what's going on at the business end of that fret.
    But that's just my opinion. I could be wrong. - Dennis Miller

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  20. #18

    Default Re: Any women out there playing mandolin?

    Hey thar, LadySolo, Have fun! Here's some sharing from my experience. I remember when I bought my first mandolin. I'd seen one and strummed some strings in about 1970 I'd been a pianist all my life, but the mandolin was the most beautiful sound I'd ever heard. So I bought a new $25 Japanese bowl back. I was so excited -- I took it to work that day to show it off. A deadpan sorta guy there says, "Can you play it?!" I said, not yet -- I'm gonna learn!" and he replied dully, "Oh, yeah, sure." Ha ha! I showed him! But by that time I had another job in another town so he never knew. I suggest that you get into a jam asap. Try an Old Time Jam -- an "All speed" jam. I don't know if they'll necessarily use those words in the announcement, but just be sure you get in with some very nice folks -- not anyone "snooty." Early players are usually accepted, and they play quietly while everyone who knows the tune plays louder. Most jammers will encourage the jammers to record the tunes to practice at home. Usually Old Time Tune players are very friendly and love new players! "The more the merrier," they say. There's a slow bluegrass jam here, too, so if you can find that and prefer bluegrass, go for it either instead of, or in addition to an Old Time jam. I taught myself to play, but there were almost no other mandolin players in those days, in the area I lived in, so I was on my own. I had a blast, but now I take lessons from a great teacher who's also a world class mandolinist. He plays swing style, classical, bluegrass and other things. He doesn't play Old Time but can figure out ANYTHING instantly -- tunes, arrangements right on the spot in the lesson at various levels, and chords. He has all sorts of great, easy chords all over the fingerboard that are not in any mandolin chord book. I'd gotten into some poor technique, teaching myself. I played in the 1970s for about 4 years, then taught piano for another 20 years when I couldn't find any jammers. Now, I've been playing seriously for 4-5 years, as my only instrument (a Flatiron flatback).

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    I mostly lurk here but I recently took up mandolin after a few years of thinking about it (and 30+ years of playing and teaching piano) and have already become sufficiently addicted that I now also have an octave mando. Currently taking lessons, hoping to work up the nerve to play in jam settings someday.

  22. #20

    Default Re: Any women out there playing mandolin?

    So cool, Rtnrlfy! Sounds like you have a similar background to my own. I bought an octave mandolin in January, 2015. I was starting to play fiddle tunes on it, and thought I was hot stuff. Then I started lessons! My teacher said, slowly and with great emphasis: "This is a ****different**** instrument, and must be played *****entirely differently!**** So now I treat it like a guitar. I sing with it. The teacher is showing me how to do solo arrangements in between song verses. He also said, "Well, this ****is*** a mandolin -- so use tremolo where it fits! Very exciting stuff! What kind/s of music do you like to do, Rtnrlfy?

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    Hi, I'm another. I've just been playing for 1 month and 3 weeks, so very very new to it all. I've wanted to play since a small child, but could never afford the instrument, but on a whim I went onto Ebay and found my first very cheaply then got another two. Thus now I play an adorable Bowl Back, with a flat back and a Bluegrass on stand by. All 3 instruments all together came to less then 100, so it is possible to learn to play without breaking the bank.

    I will be self taught as the nearest teacher is about 50 miles away and I don't drive at the moment. I've found a great stave based book so I can use my flute playing knowledge to cross over. I'm really enjoying myself and even I can see the progress I am making.

    Eventually I would love to be able to play in Nursing Homes and Hospitals to help people heal.

  24. #22

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    Hi Purdy Bear! I'm so happy for you, that you found THREE mandolins. That is so great! My band plays for assisted care senior homes. I'd like to play for hospitals, too, but we haven't done that yet. Here are some tips that will help you teach yourself. Nobody told me these until recently, and since I was self taught for years and years, up till then felt like I didn't have any good control. (1) hold the pick vertical to the strings, not slanted; (2) put your left hand fingers as close to the fret as possible. That's the fret closest to the bridge, for each note....hope I've put this clearly. If you don't do that, you may get a buzz when you pick the note. (3) Play each tune extremely slowly and ACCURATELY, in rhythm, over and over. Use a metronome if you can get one....that really, really helps. Don't stop playing if you miss. As my teacher says, "You're trying to MAKE MUSIC." So while you practice, keep going; don't stop and start. (4) on the tricky parts where you need special technique or ear/hearing work, isolate that into a small rhythmic unit, and play it over and over in rhythm. (5) play along with recordings as soon as you are able to do th at; (6) maybe you have an Old Time or Bluegrass jam session near where you live. If so, go. Most Old Time musicians welcome new players to jams. The etiquette, of course is if you don't know the tune, play unobtrusively till you know it. The jams I've been at don't mind at all if you record tunes there. In fact, they/we encourage that because "the more the merrier" as far as people playing tunes with the jam! (6) your flute and reading skills will be a great help! Particularly with rhythm. Wean yourself from reading tunes asap. A little at a time. Maybe you could record your own playing and learn the tune by ear, if you can't follow the fast playing on YouTube. HAVE FUN!!! I know you know already how wonderfully fun mandolin playing is!! I'm excited for you!

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  26. #23
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Any women out there playing mandolin?

    Just a heads up. It is nice to re-start this 10 year old thread but be aware that some of the posters from earlier haven't posted here in quite a few years. Carry on!!
    Jim

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    Default Re: Any women out there playing mandolin?

    Most of the women I know that don't play mandolin, are playing fiddle, or banjo, or guitar, or autoharp, or...
    Indulge responsibly!

    The entire staff
    funny....

  28. #25

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    Jim Garber, Hi! Funny!!! You've been at Mandolin Cafe for 10 years? and recognized this long ago thread. Well, it's active again now! LOL

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