Mandolin Beginner

Mandolin Beginner: Week #7

We have one more lesson before our recital!  I hope you guys are getting excited and inviting all of your friends for what will be a very laid back awesome time!

We will have our song on music stands for you.  Please plan on working toward memorization as much as possible and using the score for emergencies only!  

Next class will be a thorough dress rehearsal.  We will practice the final arrangement of our song and do plenty of run-throughs.  SO: please do your due diligence this week and practice both melody and chords each day at least 2-3 times.  You should be able to hum the tune and to hear the melody in your head as you play through the chords!  Take special note of the alternate picking on the score, and use the video as a reference.


Three fantastic pickers— Mike Compton is the resident Monroe-style expert of his generation.  Casey Campbell is a fantastic young player who is currently working on a duo album as he tours with the great bluegrass guitarist Bryan Sutton.  Sierra Hull is the transcendent prodigy who is basically leading the charge of her generation.  Much great music to check out from any of these three!


A major ascending and descending 4 times daily.  Count: 1 and 2 and 3 4, down up down up down down.


Our strum is quarter note down strums with emphasis on beats 2 and 4 (as we’ve practiced for a few weeks in other contexts).

OLD Joe Clark Week 3 (PDF)

Old Joe Clark (Video)

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Mandolin Beginner: Week #5

A Major scale full octave ascending and descending with this rhythm once on each note: 8th 8th 8th 8th quarter quarter (1 and 2 and 3 4).  Picking: down up down up down down

Chords are listed above the melody.  Use the same strum throughout.

Old Joe Clark, week 1

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Mandolin Beginner: Week #4

At this point we have quite a bit of information under our belts and I want to make sure that you can all keep it fresh in your minds.  So we will review the last three strums next week and we will do a close review of our chords.  While you practice the new lesson this week, make sure you also play each chord one note at a time to make sure everything sounds clear (that includes chords from past weeks!).  If you are having a hard time remembering chord names or fingerings, take a little extra time to be confident with that this week.  I know the first finger barre is especially difficult so please send some extra time on the barre chord practice this week.  I am always available for office hours if you think you need some extra attention; I really recommend that at this stage of the game.  You guys are all doing great and exceeding my expectations!  See you next week :-)

A major ascending and descending 4 times daily with alternate picking 4 times on each note.

Quarter note down strums with “chokes” on beats 2 and 4

Mandolin A Scale (PDF)
Mandolin E and A Chords (PDF)
Mandolin Chord Practice 4 (PDF)

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Mandolin Beginner: Week #3


1st finger first fret string one 8 times with alternate picking, repeat 8 times for fingers 2-4.  Repeat the whole process on strings 2-4


Your new strum is labeled on the chart.  Remember to practice 4 times daily with last week’s strum as well.  Also please spend time with each new chord voicing— play one note at a time a few times each day until they feel natural to you.  For this week leave out the 3rd finger note on string 4.

Chord Practice 3 (PDF)

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Mandolin Beginner: Week #2

TUNING: If you missed this week’s Snark tutorial take a look at the video below to get started tuning your mandolin!  Remember to check tuning every time you practice.

String one fret one: quarter quarter, fret two same rhythm, fret three same. Repeat fora a total of 4 times, then repeat the whole process on strings two, three, and four.

I  IV  V  (remember what that means?)  as played in “Bury Me Beneath the Willow” by the Carter Family.  The song repeats on this chart, so play the whole page twice a day.  Also try these chord changes with a down up down up down strum: short-short-short-short-long beats.

Bury Me Beneath the Willows (PDF)
D Chord (PDF)


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Mandolin Beginner: Week #1

Hello class!  

So great to meet all of you yesterday!  I’m really excited to cover some fun music with you over this session.  Please take a look at the diagram of of parts of your instrument— we will have a short quiz on this next lesson.  Tuning from bass string to high string is G D A E. Remember to schedule 10-15 minutes of practice time each day.  

First our tune and a brief description— Bill Monroe’s "Southern Flavor”

Over his 50 year career, Bill Monroe made an indelible mark on American music.  As the founding father of bluegrass music he invented the sound of the bluegrass mandolin as well as the role of each instrument typically used in a bluegrass ensemble.  He wrote and/or recorded an extensive list of bluegrass, gospel, blues and country standards and has been covered by hundreds of artists to come after him.  His influence and importance can’t be overstated, and I strongly recommend exploring what we now call “Monroe-style” mandolin.


ou should practice your finger exercises and chord practice each day!

Finger exercise #1:
Start with a careful set-up of playing position: your back should be straight and your shoulders open but relaxed.  The mandolin rests on the right leg with the neck raising up slightly toward the left shoulder.  Your right forearm rests on top of the instrument to hold it firmly against your rib cage and the neck rests on the first finger of your left hand (remember to "shake the hand" of your instrument).

Now pluck the E string with your pick in a downward motion several times as follows: 1st finger/2nd fret — 2nd finger/4th fret — 3rd finger/6th fret.

Chord Practice # 1

After setting up your instrument with proper playing posture, fret your G chord as depicted above, making sure that each finger is just behind the fret and on it's finger tip.  Play each string of the chord one at a time then give it a few strums.  Repeat for the C chord.

After a few days you can start to move the G chord shape to the C shape, strumming each one a few times each before repeating a few times.

 Remember to bring a Snark tuner to next week’s tuning tutorial!



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