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Thread: Mandolin instruction

  1. #1

    Default Mandolin instruction

    A lot of instructional videos seem to be very note for note song oriented. I'm really not interested in that other than you do pick up licks. Once in a while you see a follow up to a fiddle tune with some variations, but I'd really like to do my own, preferably on the fly.

    Lately I've been learning double stops as they relate to chord changes, and that has vaulted me into a whole new world, but I'm wondering if it's time for a seriously good instructor that can speed my progress. Other musicians are starting to want to play with me, but I don't think they realize I'm cycling through a paltry number of tricks. LOL

    I'm coming up on three years now so it's time I start shooting from the hip. I need something to aid in development. Too many teachers want to teach songs. That's got it's place, but only to spur progress.
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  3. #2
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin instruction

    The more you play with others the more you will relax into that situation. In addition, listen to your fellow musicians and in time you will also pick up variations and useful licks. And listen to the tunes in your head. Memorize them, even sing them to yourself while driving and in the shower. You will hear variations and then try to work those into your playing.

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  5. #3
    Registered User Billy Packard's Avatar
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    Mar 2011
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    Default Re: Mandolin instruction

    In addition to Jims comments I'd add, (if you can find the time) furthering your music education in a broader sense. When I studied harmony, for example, all kinds of lights went on and have been burning brightly ever since. If there is a community college in your area with music ed you can take advantage of--I'd say do it!

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  6. #4
    Gibson F5L Gibson A5L
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    Default Re: Mandolin instruction

    Well … the more you know the more you know you don't know. Theory … harmony … ear training … tunes or songs that teach how to use specific techniques. It is all part and parcel of the same thing. The I want to play better journey! Lessons help speed the process, with the right teacher they do … as does playing with others, do that whenever you can. It appears that you are on track for just a few years. Play on! R/
    I love hanging out with mandolin nerds . . . . . Thanks peeps ...

  7. #5

    Default Re: Mandolin instruction

    Try giving Matt Flinner's program a chance. You won't regret it. With each lesson, he gives a healthy dose of exercises aimed at developing skills; right hand picking, finding chord tones, double stops, etc. Yes, each lesson culminates in working on a tune, but he always encourages variations and adds tips and pathways for getting you to those variations. Its a friendly, challenging and motivating environment.

  8. #6

    Default Re: Mandolin instruction

    Try working harmonized scales. As Billy mentioned, a great tool to open up ideas/creativity.

  9. #7
    Registered User Doug Brock's Avatar
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    Mar 2010
    KC MO

    Default Re: Mandolin instruction

    I've never taken mandolin lessons, but I'd think they'd be worth the time and money if you have both to spare. Additionally, I have two recommendations for you, a book and some software.

    Book: Have you run across the "Mandolin Picker's Guide to Improvisation"? An interesting book that starts from the beginning with the idea that you will be creating your own music across chord changes. You start with one-octave pentatonic scales for A, D, and E, then move to those scales across all four courses of strings, then slowly add "spice" notes, double stops, cross picking, etc, and other keys. Lots of time spent slowly learning to improvise. Interesting approach that requires lots of work but outcome might be closer to what you're looking for.

    Software: I've been lucky enough to find a small casual band to play with each week and it has been great as I get back to the mandolin. (I had stopped playing for a few years, but during five months of Chemo this past year I decided I needed to put music back in my life. I was shocked that I basically had to start at the beginning with the mandolin, from the simple open G, C, and D chords!) If I didn't have the band, I would be making more use of iRealPro (or something similar). No melodies, but decent bluegrass-ish accompaniments and you can control chords, repetitions, key, and speed. Hundreds of bluegrass songs already available, but you can easily enter your own charts. Good way to practice those songs and work on both the melodies as well as on improvisations.
    Last edited by Doug Brock; Jan-25-2019 at 1:51pm.
    Doug Brock
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  10. #8

    Default Re: Mandolin instruction

    Early on I decided to be more disciplined in my approach to mandolin than I was with guitar. Every day, without a clue about application, I've played scale and scale exercises in every key, striving for clarity and evenness. Also strived to play two, three and four note picking up and down the scales, and learning the minor keys, and now working into arpeggios. Then I'll spend time on fiddle tunes. Now I'm learning double stops up and down the neck all the while making arrangements for solo mandolin and voice, in styles as diverse as folk to punk to bluegrass. The rapid downstroke lends mandolin well to Ramones tunes, the percussiveness to Bob Marley. Worked out the old Devo tune Whip It, to go with Turkey in the Straw. I love doing the unexpected.

    The harmonized scale suggestion is a good one. I'm realizing how all the scale work has trained my ear, so that has come into focus. I play three to four hours a day and try not to be frivolous with my time. I'm also painfully aware about needing to play with others. If I have a weakness, relatively speaking, it's the rut of playing in G a lot. Learning songs is a good thing to do, but I'll watch Sam Bush do an intro, learn a few bars and interesting phrases to get the feel, then inadequately fill the blanks. Just learned the power of downstrokes this week. I just feel inadequately focused if that makes any sense.

    The one thing I see in musicians my age, 68, is a lack of desire for growth. I don't get that, but I'll cop to being a man of few interests and everyone is different. I'm never going to be a great player, but I'm never going to stagnate.

    I've never regretted a minute I've spent with an instrument in my hands.
    Silverangel A
    Arches F style kit
    1913 Gibson A-1

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  12. #9
    pickloser Laura Cauble's Avatar
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    Nov 2016
    Calabash, NC

    Default Re: Mandolin instruction

    The Mandolin Pickers Guide to Bluegrass Improvisation by Jesper Rubner-Peterson is a great place to start. His ideas will get you going on your own. Jesper really vaulted my playing forward. And it's not just useful for bluegrass improv.

  13. #10
    Registered User
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    Jul 2007
    No. California

    Default Re: Mandolin instruction

    Quote Originally Posted by Rick Duvernay View Post
    Try giving Matt Flinner's program a chance. You won't regret it. With each lesson, he gives a healthy dose of exercises aimed at developing skills; right hand picking, finding chord tones, double stops, etc. Yes, each lesson culminates in working on a tune, but he always encourages variations and adds tips and pathways for getting you to those variations. Its a friendly, challenging and motivating environment.
    I’ll second that emotion. I’ve taken a couple of Matt’s group lesson series, and both were great. He offers three series at a time, which all have a different focus. The exercises that Rick mentioned are always connected with the two tunes or songs that are featured that week, and each lesson builds on the earlier ones. Matt makes very effective use of the chat feature, letting people type questions and comments during instruction, but not addressing them until he is at a pause point. Another great feature is the weekend review session, where Matt goes quickly through everything from the weeknight session. It gives you another chance to ask for extra help with any tricky things from that week.
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  14. #11
    Hands of Pot Metal
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    Feb 2014
    Forest Grove, Oregon

    Default Re: Mandolin instruction

    Transpose some fiddle tunes, first In position,then by key. Might as well use those 12 scales. That should help with ear training and improvisation.

    Listen a lot and use those ideas. Can’t be born full grown.

    That’s what I tell myself��
    Play it like you mean it

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