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Matt Flinner

Bluegrass Mandolin 101 with Matt Flinner

We are excited to announce a new online course in mandolin by Matt Flinner.  Students can access weekly group lessons every Tuesday evening at 8 pm CST, and join in practice sessions every Saturday morning at 10 am CST.  The course will begin on October 8th and conclude November 30th.


Over the course of this 8-week class we’ll get very familiar with the basics of bluegrass mandolin.  We’ll focus on five general themes:

Position playing

Double stops

Playing fills

Playing in common bluegrass keys

Bluegrass repertoire


We’ll look at several standard bluegrass songs and start with straightforward ways of playing them.  Over the course of the lessons we’ll gradually embellish these songs, expanding your knowledge of the fretboard and helping you find your own ways of playing bluegrass songs.

During each 60-minute session, we’ll break down the material for that week and play through slowly in a group lesson format.  Questions will be taken over the course of the session.  In addition, every Saturday Matt will conduct a 45-minute practice session to play through some picking exercises, warmup exercises and some of the materials covered in the previous class session.  All materials will be written in standard notation and tablature, and will be downloadable in PDF format.  In addition, videos of Matt playing the materials through at a slow tempo will be available for download to help you practice along on your own time.

Bonus materials will be available each week for the more ambitious student!  Plus a few additional surprises along the way…

This course will meet every Tuesday evening from 8 to 9 pm CST.  Additional “practice sessions” with Matt will meet Saturday mornings from 10 to 10:45 am CST.

All webinars will be recorded, so students can revisit any past webinar if they were unable to be there during the live presentation.  Students can also revisit recorded webinars as often as they like over the 8 week course and afterward.

Students are encouraged to send Matt mp3s (or whatever their preferred format is) of themselves playing the material for critique at any points during the course.  Matt will respond with mp3s of constructive criticism personalized to that student.

The course is open to players of all ability levels.  Materials will range from beginner level to advanced, and students are encouraged to focus on the material best suited to their level; the rest of the material can be saved for future use!


1. A desktop or laptop Mac or PC computer to view the sessions.

2. An internal microphone and speakers on your laptop or desktop computer, or a phone to listen and speak (if desired) during the sessions.  Instructions for participating by phone are included when you register for the course (long distance charges may apply).

3. During the course, you have the option of submitting recorded examples of your playing to the instructor (and to the group, if desired). In order to do this, you will need your computer’s built-in microphone or an external microphone plugged directly into your computer (via built-in ports or an external audio interface), in addition to basic audio recording software, such as Audacity or Garage Band, that will allow you to record yourself playing and save the recording in MP3 format.

4. A mandolin (maybe that should have been #1).


The fee for the course is $200.


To register, visit the Bluegrass Mandolin 101 registration page.



WEEK 1: Three warmup exercises

Intro to position playing

Intro to Double stops

Will the Circle Be Unbroken

Bonus material: Bury Me Not on the Lone Prairie


WEEK 2: Moving to the Key of A

I’ll Fly Away

Some tag licks to add to your solos

Backup playing and fills

Bonus material: You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere


WEEK 3: Small Position Shifts: Banks of the Ohio

Adding some licks to your solos

Double Stop Exercises: D

Bonus material: Blue Ridge Cabin Home


WEEK 4: Position Playing II


Three different kickoffs

Bonus material: Man of Constant Sorrow


WEEK 5: Shifting from Position I to Position Ii

You Are My Sunshine

Transposing to Other Keys

Bonus material: Where the Soul of Man Never Dies


WEEK 6: More Position Shifts: Sittin’ On Top of the World

Turnarounds: I-V-I Progressions

Double Stop exercises: C

Bonus material: Gold Watch and Chain


WEEK 7: Moving Double Stops Around to Create Melody

Soldier’s Joy

An Approach to Improvising

Bonus material: Panhandle Country


WEEK 8: Other keys: B, E, F, Bb.

My Long Journey Home

A few licks using “open” style double stops

Bonus material: Goin’ Up Home to Live in Green Pastures


Register here.  If you have questions, feel free to email Matt at matt@mattflinner.com

21 comments on “Bluegrass Mandolin 101 with Matt Flinner

  1. Janice Holder says:

    I met you here in Bloomington at the Dawg house concert gig that your trio presented.
    I’m wondering about the on-line mandolin 101 class.
    I want to subscribe, but my Tues. evenings are booked with a mandolin orchestra rehearsal.
    Is there any way I could access the lesson at another time…I could participate in the Sat. morning practice sessions
    Thanks for considering my question.
    Jan Holder

    • flinner says:

      Hi Jan,
      The sessions (both Tuesday night classes and Saturday morning practice sessions) will all be recorded. You’ll be able to access all of them any time. You won’t be able to ask questions live, but you can during the Saturday practices—plus you can send me questions any time via email.
      I hope that helps! Let me know if you need any more info.

  2. Sinclair Baldassari says:

    Hey Matt, this is exciting! Is your Bluegrass Workshop okay for very beginner players? Blake JUST told me he wants to learn mando! made me so happy. Other than Butch’s tapes, there’s nobody I’d rather he learn from. Glad you are doing so well. You are the bomb. Best to Wendy.

    • flinner says:

      Hi Sinclair,
      That’s great that Blake is interested in taking it up! I think he would need to make sure he’s got some of the basics down, mainly pick direction and some consistency in his picking technique. He may already have this from his experience in guitar playing. I’ll have a couple of supplemental videos up as part of the course in case this is an issue for some folks. I think if Blake is willing to put in the time he could learn quite a bit from the stuff we’ll be covering. And of course Butch’s stuff is great—if he wants to just go with those videos and/or books he’ll learn a lot!
      I hope you all are doing well. Let me know if you have any questions.

  3. […] You can view the course schedule here. […]

  4. Mike Romkey says:

    Hey, Matt. Class is a great idea. I emailed you awhile back asking whether you were available for video and composition lessons. This looks like a fun class. I guess I’m an intermediate player. I gig a lot locally and have been studying with Mike Compton for a few years and had some sessions with Adam Steffey. Do you think 101 would be good for me or are you planning something more intermediate to advanced down the road? Or are available for some video lessons. There are some vids on my website. They’re a couple of years old. Hopefully, my playing has advanced some. Best, MR

    • flinner says:

      Hi Mike,

      Obviously you’re a more advanced/experienced player, so I think the class lessons would be useful to you only if you haven’t done much in a closed position double stop style. We’ll cover quite a bit in that style, so you’ll have plenty of work to do if you want. And I’ll always have some “bonus” material up for more advanced players. If you think it would be useful to you, I’m sure you’d learn it all quickly and incorporate it into your playing.

      Right now I’m waiting to see how my work load looks once the class starts before adding any private lessons on Skype. I’ll probably have a good idea on that by mid-October. If I don’t see you in class, let’s touch base then.

      Nice videos, by the way! Hope to see you soon.


  5. David Rhodes says:

    Hi Matt. I consider myself an intermediate guitar player. I attended 3 of the 4 Ghost Ranch Bluegrass camps so you may remember me from them. I’ve been noodling on a mandolin for the last couple years – picking out songs I already know on the guitar but not with any direction or guidance. I think your class would be a good way to get me started. Please let me know if you agree.

    On a sort of related note, I’ve been intrigued with the mandocello ever since I saw Bryan Bowers play one. But I’ve never picked one up and they don’t seem to show up on the shelves of Denver music stores. I saw an ad on Mandolin Cafe for a 1917 Gibson model for $2700 but spending that kind of money sight unseen doesn’t appeal to me. Any suggestions how to pursue this?


    • flinner says:

      Hi David,

      Good to hear from you! I remember you from Ghost Ranch. I think this class would give you a really good start, especially on some things that are unique to the mandolin. Your guitar experience will certainly help too.
      As far as the mandocello goes, I would ask if they’d be willing to let you try it out for a couple of days before committing to buying it. Offer to pay the shipping at least one way. If you end up buying it it’ll hold its value should you decide to sell it down the road.

      I hope that helps. Let me know if you have any other questions.

      Thanks David!

  6. Bernie Daniel says:

    Hi Matt,

    BG101 looks like something I might be interested in — unfortunately I just learned about it. But I see the course sessions are recorded. So if one enrolled next week are earlier sessions open to them? Also wondering if these recorded sessions remain available for review and to “retake” for some extended period of time after the course ends in November? Thanks much. I enjoyed the mandolin course you gave in the Cincinnati area a few years ago.


    • flinner says:

      Hi Bernie,

      Thanks for getting in touch. You can definitely still sign up and view the first recorded session and other associated videos to catch up. Plus Saturday morning we’ll run through everything, so that would help get you caught up too.
      There are two types of videos the students have access to: the recorded sessions, which are quite long (an hour), and videos of each individual song or exercise we worked on, which are much shorter. I’ll have the short ones up for a while after the course is over, and I should be able to leave most if not all of the longer session videos up as well. It all depends on whether I exceed my limit (50 GB) with my video platform provider. At the very least, if you want to download the videos to keep as long as you want, we can work out a way to make that happen, too—either through a browser plug-in or a site like Drop Box.

      I hope that helps! Feel free to email me at info@mattflinner.com if you have any other questions.


    • flinner says:

      Hi Bernie,

      Just to be a little more specific, I’m looking to leave all videos (again, if allotted space allows) up until late January 2014, when I’m planning on starting another course.


  7. Joe says:

    when is the next class start

  8. Rain Klepper says:

    Can one jump into an already started class. If not, is there a date for starting the next one? Cost?

    • flinner says:

      Hi Rain,

      Yes, you can join a course any time. We’re two weeks in, but all sessions are recorded and available to view so that students can review and/or catch up if they need to. The cost is $200.
      The next course is tentatively scheduled to begin in early April, if you’d rather look at that one.
      Let me know if you need more info. Thanks Rain!

  9. Dan Miller says:

    Please send info to email address

  10. Dan Miller says:

    I have been craving to learn. Please let me know about April class!

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