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Thread: Higher Education for Mandolin

  1. #1
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    Default Higher Education for Mandolin

    Hey all,

    I am currently studying music at a state school near me in California. Their program is small and specifically titled "Music Industry Studies," with a lot of people who don't play instruments but hope to work in the industry. I've been playing classical mandolin for 8 years now and decided to go to this state school because there were no restrictions on audition requirements or instrument choice.

    I am now trying to transfer to Chapman University, but I am running into the same issue I did back when I was in high school. I was previously considered part of the classical guitar program, and I'm going for the same thing at Chapman as mandolin fits better there than drowning in an actual orchestra. It's been a struggle to get the music department to even let me audition, as they don't really know what to do with me. I am wondering if mandolin will grow in popularity enough to ever be recognized as a mainstream instrument that can be used in education. Has anyone else been involved in college programs as a mandolinist?

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    Unfamous String Buster Beanzy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Higher Education for Mandolin

    This issue has been run into by quite a few classical mandolinists over the years.
    If you read about Alison Stephens you'll see she had to enter Trinity as a trumpet player with mandolin as her second instrument, then ditch trumpet as she progressed. She eventually went on to graduate and develop the mandolin tuition for Trinity. Unfortunately Alison died 10 years ago, but fortunately there are people who she helped develop who are very much with us. I would recommend reaching out to Chris Acquavella to see if he can offer advice with this as he is still very connected to the USA (both he and Travis Finch left the US to study with Alison)

    The other person to ask is Caterina Lichtenberg who is Music Professor at the University of Cologne. Through her partnership with Mike Marshall she has a good insight into the situation in Europe and the USA

    Due to the interconnectedness of all things now there might not be such a need for travel to study with people of this level and your university may be able to begin using their expertise to develop their offerings. With the possibility of skype offered by both Caterina and Chris, you could find that would work for instrument specific tuition, with possibilities to arrange direct tuition during their regular visits there. you may also be able to arrange academic exchanges or visits to Germany via your Uni.
    Eoin



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    Registered User Scotter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Higher Education for Mandolin

    Howdy,

    I'm aware of several folks who've done something similar in regards to tailoring their degree towards mandolin. I believe that David Benedict of Mandolin Monday's and Mile Twelve fame did this.
    https://www.davidbenedictmusic.com/

    Same goes for Lauren and LeAnna Price of The Price Sisters at Morehead State University.
    https://www.thepricesisters.com/

    And Tommy Norris may have done something similar but I think he studied guitar and then just transferred the concepts to mandolin. I've been using his first book a fair bit in small doses. Good stuff!
    http://www.tommynorrismusic.com/bio
    http://www.tommynorrismusic.com/books

    I'm guessing that you could try contacting any or all of these folks to see if they might have any advice or helpful tips.
    Play that which you feel is groovy, get down with your bad self, and shake your money maker if it makes sense for you to do so.

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    Default Re: Higher Education for Mandolin

    Not involved with Colleges but I do have strong feelings about the way music, rhythm, the human body, is not taught from primary school up.
    Mainly about inclusion, acceptance, and how the other Social, Political and Religious problems in our Society impair musical communication, well more but...

    Good luck.
    Happy to play such a beautiful instrument!
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  7. #5
    Dave Sheets
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    Default Re: Higher Education for Mandolin

    I met a contra dance caller/musician, primarily a mandola player, who had gone to East Tennessee State University, they have a Bluegrass, Old-Time and Country music degree program

    https://www.etsu.edu/cas/das/bluegrass/
    -Dave
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    Registered User Charles E.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: Higher Education for Mandolin

    Sierra Hull got her degree at Berklee School of Music studying mandolin.
    Charley

    A bunch of stuff with four strings

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    Default Re: Higher Education for Mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by Charles E. View Post
    Sierra Hull got her degree at Berklee School of Music studying mandolin.
    I did a summer program at Berklee. While it is one of the few schools that advertises their mandolin program, they do not cater at all to the classical player. In fact, most of the classes I took encouraged me not to read music at all. Understandable, as they are primarily a jazz-influenced school, but not what I was goin for in the long-run.

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    Default Re: Higher Education for Mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by mle.w View Post
    I did a summer program at Berklee. While it is one of the few schools that advertises their mandolin program, they do not cater at all to the classical player. In fact, most of the classes I took encouraged me not to read music at all. Understandable, as they are primarily a jazz-influenced school, but not what I was goin for in the long-run.
    Was that before or after their relatively recent merger with the Boston Conservatory? My understanding at the time was that one outcome of the merger was to make them more comprehensive in their music offerings. If I were looking for a school as the OP is, Berklee would be on the top of my list.

    If I remember correctly, I first encountered a Berklee student back in 1971 or '72 and have known, studied under and played with many since then. Usually not mandolin, but a variety of instruments (I am not sure how long they have offered Mandolin as a major). I have been impressed with each of them. Some really liked their time at Berklee, others not as much, but each demonstrated a high level of musicianship.

    I have also been in touch with some administration and faculty from their String program. They seem really enthusiastic about what they do, and seemed like very nice, caring people. Both are qualities I value in educators.

    I am old and way beyond my college years, but as I said, if I were looking for a program, I would be sure to visit Berklee.
    Purr more, hiss less.

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    Default Re: Higher Education for Mandolin

    My son attended Berklee’s summer program this past summer. Although it is an excellent school, my son was the only mandolin player there out of about 1000+ students. Expensive, but a great learning experience! Like you said, it’s jazz oriented.

    I’ve heard that Belmont University in Nashville has a good music program That might be worth looking into.

    Good luck and let us know what you find out/decide.
    John
    ... not all those who wander are lost ...

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    Default Re: Higher Education for Mandolin

    What they won't tell you is that colleges are businesses and they ignore individuals in favor of market trends. Proving that there are trends towards mandolin, (and this blog is one...) is your only hope. It is far easier to move your physical self to a college that appreciates mandolins.
    Decipit exemplar vitiis imitabile

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    Default Re: Higher Education for Mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by mle.w View Post
    Hey all,

    I am currently studying music at a state school near me in California. Their program is small and specifically titled "Music Industry Studies," with a lot of people who don't play instruments but hope to work in the industry. I've been playing classical mandolin for 8 years now and decided to go to this state school because there were no restrictions on audition requirements or instrument choice.

    I am now trying to transfer to Chapman University, but I am running into the same issue I did back when I was in high school. I was previously considered part of the classical guitar program, and I'm going for the same thing at Chapman as mandolin fits better there than drowning in an actual orchestra. It's been a struggle to get the music department to even let me audition, as they don't really know what to do with me. I am wondering if mandolin will grow in popularity enough to ever be recognized as a mainstream instrument that can be used in education. Has anyone else been involved in college programs as a mandolinist?
    mle,
    I am not knowledgeable in this area, but I am curious what your career aspirations are. Is it your hope to play classical mandolin professionally? To teach? Other?

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    Default Re: Higher Education for Mandolin

    I HAVE NOT gone through all of the information provided, but there might be something that the OP might find useful.

    http://www.bridgetomusic.com/Mandoli...s-programs.php


    Similarly, I havenít examined all of the posts in the following threads, but there might be some useful information lurking aboutÖ

    Classical Mandolin Studies

  15. #13

    Default Re: Higher Education for Mandolin

    University of Northern Colorado also has a Folk and Bluegrass studies program where one can study on the Mandolin.

    https://arts.unco.edu/music/bluegrass/

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    Default Re: Higher Education for Mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by DaveGinNJ View Post
    mle,
    I am not knowledgeable in this area, but I am curious what your career aspirations are. Is it your hope to play classical mandolin professionally? To teach? Other?
    I hope to be involved in classical ensembles and orchestras in the future. I teach private lessons right now and love doing it. Classical mandolin is definitely what I'm going for which is why school that have folk/bluegrass programs were not suited towards me. In terms of my ultimate goals, just to keep playing and connecting with as many classical players as I can.

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    Default Re: Higher Education for Mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by Denman John View Post
    My son attended Berkleeís summer program this past summer. Although it is an excellent school, my son was the only mandolin player there out of about 1000+ students. Expensive, but a great learning experience! Like you said, itís jazz oriented.

    Iíve heard that Belmont University in Nashville has a good music program That might be worth looking into.

    Good luck and let us know what you find out/decide.
    John
    The year I attended the 5 week summer program, there were 3 other mandolinists, all bluegrass players. They decided to put me in the lower tier classes because my improvisation was not up to speed with the others, but my theory and playing skills were much higher than the other string players in my class. In my opinion, it was a lot of wasted time, especially because I was grouped with violinists and cellists that did not know how to build a chord.

    This was during their merger with Boston Conservatory, and I'm sure that if I went to the school full time I would get much more out of it that I did the summer program. However, the summer program was supposed to be a "taste" of what their school was like full time. I could not justify that expensive of a school with how disappointed I was in my education there.

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    Default Re: Higher Education for Mandolin

    It seems to me that our original OP is asking two basic questions. Where can a person study classical mandolin in higher education and will our instrument ever be recognized as a mainstream "classical" instrument?

    There are several helpful answers already to question 1 and I would only add that there are a number of young virtuosi from various European countries, not only Germany, who have somehow been to college or university. These folks may or may not have been able to study mandolin at their schools, other forum threads may have more details.

    I can say, however, that the question of mandolin recognition and legitimacy has been talked about at conventions of the Classical Mandolin Society of America since, probably, the very beginning (1986).

    We often look to the history of the classical guitar in North America as potential model. A century ago, I believe, there were very few (if any) colleges that offered instruction in guitar and today it is more common than not for most schools to recognize guitar (primarily "classical" but sometimes other styles) and have at least a part-time faculty member on the faculty.

    Jeffrey Noonan's excellent book, The Guitar in America, is partly a study of how the mandolin missed the boat as the guitar came to prominence in the first half of the 20th century. There were many brilliant mandolin soloists in the "golden era" but their popularity didn't translate into legitimacy in the Academy. Theories abound.

    CMSA has managed to keep the fire burning for over thirty years but as an all-volunteer, modestly funded organization it has not raised the profile of classical mandolin as much as it would like. Progress is slow but steady and the quality of playing at the annual convention continues to improve.

    It remains extremely difficult, if not impossible, in North America for a classical mandolin virtuoso to make a living. The classical guitar, on the other hand, has reached the point where many talented guitarists can piece together a career by teaching at one or more colleges, maintaining a private studio, performing, composing and recording. Maybe someday for mandolinists.

    Despite not being established in the Academy the mandolin in America is in a very good place because of it's versatility in a wide variety of styles of music. The legacy of Bill Monroe (and not only Bill but I won't make a list here) has inspired thousands of musicians, from beginners to wizards, to pursue mastery of our instrument.

    It may be that the mandolin will just continue to make its own way forward. There is no doubt, however, that the instrument is moving ahead and gaining followers every day.

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    Default Re: Higher Education for Mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by John Goodin View Post
    It seems to me that our original OP is asking two basic questions. Where can a person study classical mandolin in higher education and will our instrument ever be recognized as a mainstream "classical" instrument?

    There are several helpful answers already to question 1 and I would only add that there are a number of young virtuosi from various European countries, not only Germany, who have somehow been to college or university. These folks may or may not have been able to study mandolin at their schools, other forum threads may have more details.

    I can say, however, that the question of mandolin recognition and legitimacy has been talked about at conventions of the Classical Mandolin Society of America since, probably, the very beginning (1986).

    We often look to the history of the classical guitar in North America as potential model. A century ago, I believe, there were very few (if any) colleges that offered instruction in guitar and today it is more common than not for most schools to recognize guitar (primarily "classical" but sometimes other styles) and have at least a part-time faculty member on the faculty.

    Jeffrey Noonan's excellent book, The Guitar in America, is partly a study of how the mandolin missed the boat as the guitar came to prominence in the first half of the 20th century. There were many brilliant mandolin soloists in the "golden era" but their popularity didn't translate into legitimacy in the Academy. Theories abound.

    CMSA has managed to keep the fire burning for over thirty years but as an all-volunteer, modestly funded organization it has not raised the profile of classical mandolin as much as it would like. Progress is slow but steady and the quality of playing at the annual convention continues to improve.

    It remains extremely difficult, if not impossible, in North America for a classical mandolin virtuoso to make a living. The classical guitar, on the other hand, has reached the point where many talented guitarists can piece together a career by teaching at one or more colleges, maintaining a private studio, performing, composing and recording. Maybe someday for mandolinists.

    Despite not being established in the Academy the mandolin in America is in a very good place because of it's versatility in a wide variety of styles of music. The legacy of Bill Monroe (and not only Bill but I won't make a list here) has inspired thousands of musicians, from beginners to wizards, to pursue mastery of our instrument.

    It may be that the mandolin will just continue to make its own way forward. There is no doubt, however, that the instrument is moving ahead and gaining followers every day.
    Very well said. The good news is that Chapman University's program chair is allowing me to audition for their classical guitar program. I am optimistic that this will be a good program for me as I have studied with their director before.

    At this point I'm really just curious if there's anyone in the U.S. attempting the same as I am right now.

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    Default Re: Higher Education for Mandolin

    My mandolin teacher graduated from Regis University with a degree in Mandolin Performance. Not sure of the details, if you are interested pm me.

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