Lesson Details

Interested in Learning how to play the mandolin?

Great! We'd love to teach you, especially if you'd be interested in becoming a member of the Mandoleers. (We also need guitarists, mandocello players and double bass, or acoustic guitar-bass.) So, what's the Plan? Glad you asked! In order to identify your interest in learning mandolin, we ask that you do the following:

             Visit a Mandoleers rehearsal on a regularly scheduled Tuesday night.  Arrive around 8 PM and plan to stay for the first hour of our rehearsal.

              We take a 10 minute break at 9 PM, at which time you can speak with our mandolin teachers about your interests and their availability.

Both teachers only teach part-time so we all have to plan for a flexible schedule. Our objective is to teach you how to play the mandolin in a classical American style. What does that mean exactly? Well, for one thing, both the way we play, and the style of music that we play is closer to the traditional European style and music, rather than the American Bluegrass style. Which means what you ask?

How is the Classical Approach Different from the Bluegrass Approach to Playing the Mandolin?

There are lots of nuisances but primarily it means the way you use your right hand and arm.

So, you want that explained further? OK, here's a simple illustration:

    Place your forearm on the table in front of you, parallel to your body, with your finger tips touching the table, palm down (pronate). Now, keeping your forearm stationary, move your fingers back and forth by moving your wrist. This approach is one way to play; typical of some bluegrass players and guitarists (who "plant" their wrist on the bridge of the instrument.) This approach is not recommended by a Certified Hand Therpist (whom we contacted; he has taught guitarists) but it is the method used by Keith Harris, an award-winning European mandolinist and prolific mandolin instructor.

An Alternate right hand technique: Start as before with your forearm on the table, but now move left (body and arm), to the left edge of the table so as to allow your hand and fingers to drop off of the edge of the table. Your wrist is now at an angle with respect to your forearm (How much of an angle depends upon you flexibility, which is typically age-related.) Now, move your hand back and forth like a pendulum. Notice that your whole hand is moving, but not from the wrist joint; it is moving from the two principle bones in your forearm that go all the way back to your elbow. You can prove this to yourself by using your left hand and grabbing your forearm near the wrist and manually moving those two bones; your wrist will move like a pendulum.

A Third Approach: as demonstrated by Marrissa Carrol, is to combine the flexible writst along with the whole forearm, especially for fast and loud passages.  Notice that she also uses the pickgrard as a "pinky glide".

How else are we different from Bluegrass? Reading music is critical, reading tablature is irrelevant. HOWEVER, don't panic if you cannot read music. I learned guitar and mandolin by ear and played with the orchestra for 2 years while learning how to read music. A micro cassette* came in handy.

What kind of mandolin do you need? Almost any kind will do with one specific requirement: it must be playable! We can evaluate your mandolin, so bring it with you. We may even be able to loan you one if you need to get yours repaired or adjusted.

Don't own a mandolin yet? Don't buy one until you get the opinion of about 18 other people! (that's the approximate size of our orchestra.)

Lesson Cost: Oh, one other item: Cost per week is less than music stores charge, and all 3 teachers go past the normal 30 minutes. We will provide you with the mandolin method book which you will have to purchase from us. Normally, we start with some printed pages. See the links on main web page for directions to our rehearsal site.

Thanks for your interest! And remember - Why not Fret? It's the only way to make good music!.

*Yes, I am showing my age. A digital recorder will work too.