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Thread: Mike Marshall or Sharon Gilchrist?

  1. #1

    Question Mike Marshall or Sharon Gilchrist?

    Hi, I just purchased my mandolin and am an absolute beginner. I'm torn as to which mandolin course I should take: Mike Marshall at Artist Works or Sharon Gilchrist at Peghead Nation. Is one style of teaching better than the other or easier?

    Thanks!

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Mike Marshall or Sharon Gilchrist?

    I used Mike Marshall and found he took a long time to reply to my video submissions. He does explain his lessons very well and I found them to be helpful. At that time I was having bigtime pain in my back and couldn't hold the mandolin the way he recommended and he kept telling me to do it his way. I got fed up and quit. This past Winter I had two vertebrae fused in my neck and most of the pain has gone away. I have watched the free video of Ms. Gilchrist on Peghead and she appears to be a great teacher. Perhaps I will try her one day.

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    Default Re: Mike Marshall or Sharon Gilchrist?

    I've had both in person at camps or workshops, and both are obviously highly experienced teachers as well as musicians. The in-person experience is different from on-line, unless you are live on Skype or the like. Artist Works and Peghead Nation have much different approaches, which are a big consideration along with the teachers. I use Peghead and like their approach and general vibe of the experience and company. The interface as well. Others use Artist Works. I suggest if you're on the fence maybe try a month or two at each. You'll learn something either way.

    As to Sharon and Mike, in person I find Sharon extremely organized and patient, and has a great approach to explaining things and teaching in general. I'm sure that is reflected in her Peghead course as well. Mike probably the same. Hope this helps.

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    Default Re: Mike Marshall or Sharon Gilchrist?

    I have tried both Mike Marshall's and Sharon Gilchrist's courses. The Gilchrist course goes into a little more detail and slows things down a bit but, doesn't easily provide the individuality of the Marshall course. A couple of others you might want to consider are "Mandolessons" with Baron Collins-Hill and Banjo Ben Clark's series. The Collins-Hill lessons are free, although donations are VERY appropriate and gratefully accepted. Baron spends considerable time with each of his lessons and I have found one can come away with some quickly usable tips, tunes, techniques and songs. Ben Clark may not be quite as recognizable as Marshall or Gilchrist but, he is one HECK of a musician and a very good teacher. His lessons show good right and left hand closeups and his style is very accessible. Just a couple more for you to think about and consider. Good luck in your pursuit.
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    Default Re: Mike Marshall or Sharon Gilchrist?

    The great thing about Mike's at Artistworks is the amount of material available. The curriculum is great, and the monthly video messages go back almost 7 years, and the Video Exchanges are somewhere north of 5000 and growing. The Video Exchanges by other students include a response by Mike, each a lesson in themselves most of the times. Even if you don't submit a video to Mike, it is well worth it. There is a lot to do and learn in the 15 days or so that it takes Mike to respond in your video. With his schedule, it might take longer at times, but if you use them as guideposts on a long journey, they can be a great way to get feedback on your playing. If you are a seasoned player wanting feedback so you can advance to the next level, then I can see the exchanges being limiting.
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    Default Re: Mike Marshall or Sharon Gilchrist?

    I’ve taken both and recommend both. MM has more content to sort thru. SG and Joe Walsh have great lessons. I would recommend mandolessons.com starting out. At some point a few in person lessons with a trained eye will keep you from getting to far along with bad habits. Easy to form - hard to rid

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  12. #7

    Default Re: Mike Marshall or Sharon Gilchrist?

    I would second mandolessons.com - lots of great material for a beginner.
    How to hold a pick from the master himself -
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IdhVC0DzfFY

    I am currently taking the intermediate course by Sharon. I just started so can't really comment. I believe you can try a one month lesson for free, so you could decide if you want to take any more.

    To confuse the issue more Mandolins Heal the World is a good site as well. The thing I like about this is you can see any lesson by any teacher, so not limited to one person or course.

    They should all be helpful. The biggest thing is using them and sticking with it. I will say that there is no substitute for a good teacher in person.

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    Default Re: Mike Marshall or Sharon Gilchrist?

    We're really lucky to have these online resources. Whether you go with Banjo Ben, Mike Marshall/Artistwortks, or Peghead Nation you will get great value for your dollar. They are all great! You will have what you need to advance not matter which you choose. I've been a member on and off for several years at Artistworks. I'm a lifetime member of Banjo Ben. I've sampled several lessons at Peghead nation although I'm not a member. All three are top notch musicians. Here are my thoughts:

    Artistworks:
    -Mike Marshall is a gifted teacher. He has great instincts as an educator.
    -The most interactive. You submit videos and then get personal feedback.
    -The most expensive.
    -Should commit to making videos to get the most value.
    -The most expansive. You can view all video exchanges not just yours. Bach, Choro, Bluegrass, some guy playing Mark Knophler on a mandocello? It's all there. This can be a plus or a minus. The depth is great but you can lose focus!

    Banjo Ben
    -Speaks bluegrass. He does touch on some jazz and folk stuff but the focus is squarely on Bluegrass. That can be a plus or minus depending on what you're into.
    -New website is really user friendly. Everything you need on one page.
    -Good teacher and friendly fellow.
    -Lots of content. He's been at this for a long time.
    -Lifetime memberships available.
    -A great value if you also play guitar or banjo. One membership gets all the content from all three schools.

    Peghead Nation
    -Good quality teachers
    -Courses allow you to specialize and focus your area of instruction i.e melodic mandolin, Monroe Style, Celtic mandolin, etc
    -You must pay for each school. You do get a discount for signing up for multiple schools.
    -Not as much content as the other two sites. I'm sure that will change over the years.

    My recommendation?
    If you have a wide focus on different musical genres and you will make and submit videos: Go Artistworks.
    If you like mostly bluegrass and might not take the time to make and submit videos: Go Banjo Ben (especially if you play guitar or banjo too)
    If you have the money: Sample all three.
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    Default Re: Mike Marshall or Sharon Gilchrist?

    You may want to consider Skype lessons with Pete Martin . You can contact Pete here.
    My two favorite pastimes are drinking wine and playing the mandolin but most of my friends would rather hear me drink wine! Adapted from quote by Mark Twain------supposedly !

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  18. #10

    Default Re: Mike Marshall or Sharon Gilchrist?

    Quote Originally Posted by MandoMissus View Post
    Hi, I just purchased my mandolin and am an absolute beginner. I'm torn as to which mandolin course I should take: Mike Marshall at Artist Works or Sharon Gilchrist at Peghead Nation. Is one style of teaching better than the other or easier?

    Thanks!
    I would take your money and have a few Skype lessons and start out with good posture, and technique, they cost about $1 a minute. Beware of any instructor who says their way is the “correct” way...there are many different styles of playing and pick holding but there are some bad habits you’ll want to head off. You will be able to interact in real time with the teach to clarify/correct things. Then go to the websites mentioned and do the free trial and see who you like.

    I have been at camps with Sharon Gilchrist and she is a wonderful, patient teacher and I’m sure she does a great job at PegHead as does Joe Walsh. Some other video offers are Banjo Ben, Mandolessons, Pickin’ Lessons, and loads of others on YouTube. Also, check out Matt Flinner’s lesson series, he does live sessions where you can interact with him and they are all recorded so you can review later.

    If you are just beginning it really is worth investing time and money into a few private lessons to get you started. I have been Skyping with Emory Lester for a few years now and there are loads of others...Barron Collins-Hill, David Benedict, Pete Martin, Wayne Benson, and check out the classified section here as there are so many to choose from pick one whose style you like and go for it...if it doesn’t work out pick another.

    Have fun!
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    Default Re: Mike Marshall or Sharon Gilchrist?

    I learned way before there was an Internet. My dad was the best musician I've known but a poor teacher,he couldn't explain what he was doing it was just what he heard in his head but he took me with him every time he jammed so I had the benefit of hearing and talking to and learning from many good players. I think to use that philosophy on the Internet would serve one well. Pick one, really doesn't matter which, to learn the basics, then use them all to gleam what you can from each. One will explain one thing better another something else. You will have trouble with somethingnand a different teacher will turn the explanation a different way and bingo you'll understand. I'm not saying take all at the same time although if you have the money and the time that would be OK. A newbie wants to learn everything at once but you are starting a lifelong journey set back and enjoy it. I've been playing 50+ years and I learn something about every time I get a mandolin out of the case.

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  22. #12

    Default Re: Mike Marshall or Sharon Gilchrist?

    Quote Originally Posted by MandoMissus View Post
    Hi, I just purchased my mandolin and am an absolute beginner. I'm torn as to which mandolin course I should take: Mike Marshall at Artist Works or Sharon Gilchrist at Peghead Nation. Is one style of teaching better than the other or easier?

    Thanks!

    ``Baron Collins-Hill and Banjo Ben Clark's series. The Collins-Hill lessons are free, although donations are VERY appropriate and gratefully accepted. Baron spends considerable time with each of his lessons and I have found one can come away with some quickly usable tips, tunes, techniques and songs``. from previous post


    >>> I will second the motion of Baron .....the lessons are free and you can learn a lot by watching his Mando lessons.The others although excellent will want your time and money and if you can afford these illustrious teachers then take the step.But I would go with Baron and spend cash on beginners books from Amazon. the books by Wayne Ebersen are worth having in your Mando library.Should the illustrious ones have book/CD combinations buy these and you will learn a lot.If you get a chance to do a Diploma or Degree in Music you will leave the illustrious ones far away behind and you will outpace them in every aspect of music.

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    Last edited by KoalaBear; May-06-2018 at 9:41pm.

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    Registered User Al Trujillo's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mike Marshall or Sharon Gilchrist?

    I've taken courses through websites 'Mandolins Heal the World (Julin), Peghead Nation (Gilchrist, Reischman, Compton, Fibish), Mandolin Lessons (Baron Collins-Hill) and Banjo Bens. I read TAB well enough to play, Standard Notation not so much. I recently started a course with Banjo Ben and so far I've been impressed. I think, of all the courses I've mentioned that Ben's would have probably been my best choice when I was just beginning to play. The thing is these courses are easy to start and cancel, so you can experience each of them until you find the one that suites your needs. Good luck!

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    Registered User Bob Clark's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mike Marshall or Sharon Gilchrist?

    Hi MandoMissus,

    There certainly is a wealth of resources to choose from. I have taken lessons in person from a few instructors in the South Jersey/Philadelphia area. For me, Bryce Milano really stands out as a great instructor (and an incredible musician, by the way). My playing really took off under his tutelage, especially my technique, cleanness of playing and tone. I had immediate results. Bryce also offers lessons by Skype. While I did not utilize his Skype service (he's only an hour away so I went in person instead), I can really recommend him as an instructor and would take Skypew lessons with him if he was not nearby. If you'd like his contact info, PM me and I'll connect you with him.

    Best wishes,

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  28. #15

    Default Re: Mike Marshall or Sharon Gilchrist?

    Lots of great feedback and suggestions here, folks! I just sprang for the Artistworks/Mike Marshall course. For a relatively reasonable price, I think you're getting expert-level instruction from a mandolin master that will take you far on your journey. Though I could probably say I'm at a lower intermediate level on mandolin, I like to always approach learning music with a beginner's mindset, so I'm starting from the first lesson and making sure I practice every exercise, song, and suggestion. But the best method is the one that keeps you engaged and motivated to practice, so explore all the options until you find one that works for you!

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    Default Re: Mike Marshall or Sharon Gilchrist?

    Quote Originally Posted by MandoMissus View Post
    Hi, I just purchased my mandolin and am an absolute beginner. I'm torn as to which mandolin course I should take: Mike Marshall at Artist Works or Sharon Gilchrist at Peghead Nation. Is one style of teaching better than the other or easier?

    Thanks!
    Never took Mike's. Enjoyed what I took of Sharon's.
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    Default Re: Mike Marshall or Sharon Gilchrist?

    The world being what it is these days, on-line courses and Skype lessons have changed music instruction. And as a teacher, I must admit that am biased. While it may be wonderful to study on-line with world class musicians, don't underestimate the value of in-person instruction with a competent teacher. They can see and hear things that a computer can't transmit, and can watch you from all angles and demonstrate things and help you make adjustments in three dimensions instead of two.

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    Default Re: Mike Marshall or Sharon Gilchrist?

    I agree that one-on-one instruction is ideal, particularly in early stages where bad habits might take root. I've studied with working-class players via Skype and experienced no loss of face-to-face value. A gifted teacher can make it work. The one-to-one with Mike Marshall on Artistworks is not real-time but I have found his responses to be well thought out, well targeted and helpful. The drawback for a beginner is the multi-day delay in response.

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    Default Re: Mike Marshall or Sharon Gilchrist?

    Quote Originally Posted by rcc56 View Post
    The world being what it is these days, on-line courses and Skype lessons have changed music instruction. And as a teacher, I must admit that am biased. While it may be wonderful to study on-line with world class musicians, don't underestimate the value of in-person instruction with a competent teacher. They can see and hear things that a computer can't transmit, and can watch you from all angles and demonstrate things and help you make adjustments in three dimensions instead of two.
    Yeah, I like being shown stuff in person or playing along with CDs. But I'm not artiste. I just like playing.

    But I must admit, having to use Skype or create videos of myself is too daunting to consider. (Used Skype once. Created a video once. Not happy experiences.)

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    Default Re: Mike Marshall or Sharon Gilchrist?

    I really enjoy Mike Marshall's course on Artist Works. It's one of those things that you will get out of it what you put into it. If you send Mike videos and work hard on the material, you're going to get better no matter what level you are at. There are complete beginners and some very good pickers working on advanced stuff.
    The other thing I enjoy about the site is that you can choose to work on bluegrass, jazz, classical, choro, holiday tunes, send in originals, anything you want.

    To the comment about responses taking a while, Mike averages 10 days which I think is reasonable given the amount of students, the rest of his life and career, as well as the detail he goes in to. For simple things you might get a 5 minute reply, but then he'll go into 30 minutes breaking down a tune piece by piece and getting deep into theory and improv concepts.

    P.S. regarding the price, AW pretty often runs at least a 20 or 30% off sale. On Christmas Eve they even ran a 50% special.


    Again, the value is in what you put into it. Just in the course material I have watched enough to average about only $.08 a minute not counting re-watching, so probably less than that even. THEN you add that you can watch every student submission and response and that amount of material really blows away the curriculum even. Moral of the story, I am a huge fan of it after having been a member for a year.
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    Default Re: Mike Marshall or Sharon Gilchrist?

    Thanks!!!

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    Brentrup Evangelist Larry S Sherman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mike Marshall or Sharon Gilchrist?

    Quote Originally Posted by bigskygirl View Post
    Also, check out Matt Flinner’s lesson series, he does live sessions where you can interact with him and they are all recorded so you can review later.
    I recommend Matt Flinner's courses. You get a live lesson once a week with a live review, and you can watch the recorded sessions to practice with. He provides backing tracks and is very responsive to questions.

    His courses change often (great variety). I think he has a music theory course starting soon (link here) as well as bluegrass and gypsy classes.

    Larry

  42. #23

    Default Re: Mike Marshall or Sharon Gilchrist?

    I'd check local, in person resources first. Is there a jam in your area where you could talk to other players and find out who might be available? Maybe a local band could give you some guidance as well.

    As everyone has said, there are a lot of online resources filling a wide variety of niches. I subscribed to Artistworks but didn't use them very much since I work better with individual instruction. YMMV. Its good to get basic ergonomic instruction in person to start with good habits rather than work to fix them later.

    Good luck and remember that it should always be fun as you navigate your mando journey.
    Play it like you mean it.

  43. #24

    Default Re: Mike Marshall or Sharon Gilchrist?

    I second what Bill said. Take in person lessons (even via skype) to get basic ergonomics own, hand position, posture, pick grip. But then the catch, make sure the teacher follows accepted principles that you can work with. I'd advise looking for some free online lessons to see what is out there.

    Just look at threads here on the café about right hand and anchoring. There is no consensus on the "right" way, but there is an accepted consensus that the right hand needs some sort of reference, while freely moving, to accurately move through the strings. The two main camps are brushing the base of the palm against bridge/strings behind the bridge, or lightly brushing the pinkie against a pickguard/mandolin top. I am firmly in the former camp, and this was the only thing I disagreed with my teacher about.
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  44. #25

    Default Re: Mike Marshall or Sharon Gilchrist?

    I have taken both - MM for about 4 or 5 years, and recently Peghead for the last year or so. Here's how I would compare the two (+ for pros, - for cons):

    MM:
    + Lots of great material
    + Personal feedback is really helpful, particularly when you are just getting started to get the basics down well
    - As it has gotten more popular, response times are slow. The issue here is not just the delay (which is totally understandable), he suggests next steps that are personalized for you. This sounds good, but what happens in practice is that you review one of the lessons, and then send him the exercise from the lesson. By the time you get the response back, you have moved on to the next lesson, and then he suggests something totally different, and you don't know whether to followup with the next exercise from the curriculum or do another turn on the material from the prior lesson (which you probably haven't looked at in a couple of weeks while you waited for the video response)
    - Mike's feedback varies from super insightful and helpful to totally useless (not that what he says is useless more that he provides very little useful feedback, particularly when you can tell he is trying to crank through a bunch of videos). As an example of the latter, I was working on increasing speed (as he had suggested), so I was practicing with a metronome and got a tune I was working on to where I could play it at a good tempo, and when I sent the video lesson, the metronome was audible in the background. The only feedback he shared was to have the metronome beating 2/2 instead of 4/4. No comment at all no technique or tone as I tried to play much faster than I had before. Literally, the only comment was to switch the metronome to half the speed. In other cases, I think I was just not a good enough musician to make the feedback valuable. A common MM way of responding is to play back the tune you played and do something musical with it, i.e. he often responds musically rather than verbally. For me, it was cool to see what he could do with a tune, but it didnt help me become a better player.

    Because of the negatives above, I decided to try Peghead nation. Here's my thoughts on that:
    + Sharon's does a good job simplifying things, and the progression is nice. She is better at explaining what she is doing than Mike is.
    + The emphasis on ear learning is helpful for me (may not be for others)
    - Obviously, Peghead doesnt have the video review, so there is no way to get feedback on how you are playing.

    If you are just starting, I would try Artistworks, since Mike is great at getting you started with the right technique, and there is a ton of material to explore. If, however, that doesnt work for you at any point, Peghead is great too. As others have noted, Artistworks often has sales, so you can get good deals.

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