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Thread: Learning mandolin and music theory?

  1. #26
    Registered User Jill McAuley's Avatar
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    Jan 2009
    Co. Mayo, Ireland

    Default Re: Learning mandolin and music theory?

    Exactly - no one is saying "Don't learn theory!" - rather some of us are saying that the OP doesn't need to learn theory before he dives into learning how to play - the two things aren't mutually exclusive, he can start coming to grips with basic stuff like good playing mechanics, learning easy tunes AND simultaneously start learning theory. Lack of theory knowledge shouldn't be an obstacle to picking up an instrument to learn. Kids in school aren't taught theory first and then allowed play an instrument - they learn the two things in tandem.
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  3. #27
    Registered User Ranald's Avatar
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    Mar 2017
    Ottawa, Canada

    Default Re: Learning mandolin and music theory?

    That being said, I found it a great deal easier to practice scales, a useful skill, after someone explained to me why I should do so, that is, on the most basic level, so that whenever I play a new tune in D or G, for example, I don't have to search around to find the correct finger positions. Interestingly, I learned that in a workshop on theory by Calvin Vollrath, an outstanding fiddler and composer who can't read music and who has no formal musical training. Before that people just told me to practice my scales, never explaining why.
    Robert Johnson's mother, describing blues musicians:
    "I never did have no trouble with him until he got big enough to be round with bigger boys and off from home. Then he used to follow all these harp blowers, mandoleen (sic) and guitar players."
    Lomax, Alan, The Land where The Blues Began, NY: Pantheon, 1993, p.14.

  4. #28
    Fingertips of leather Bill McCall's Avatar
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    Feb 2014
    Forest Grove, Oregon

    Default Re: Learning mandolin and music theory?

    Theory will avail itself to you as you progress. Donít worry about it.

    I suspect you sang nursery rhymes as a child with no theory knowledge. You can pluck notes on a mandolin with the same approach. Why/how chords are built will bring in theory soon enough, same with understanding scales.

    Understanding the biomechanical framework of the left and right hand operation is the best theory knowledge for beginning players. Donít hurt yourself.

    Good luck. Have fun.

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