Every few months, I teach an online mandolin course focusing on certain aspects of bluegrass mandolin playing. I strive to make these courses the best possible experience one can have in mandolin lessons online, and I do my best to provide the best instruction possible to players of all ability levels. This Spring, I’ll be adding a second course to further expand the options for your bluegrass mandolin lessons online.
Here’s a description of the Bluegrass Mandolin 101 (and 102) experience that I hope will give you a good idea of what this exciting new style of online mandolin lessons is all about.
BLUEGRASS MANDOLIN 101 (and 102!)
The Bluegrass Mandolin 101 program is a unique approach to online mandolin lessons that gives students the best of both worlds: access to live lessons as well as recorded mandolin instructional videos. This quarterly course focuses on helping mandolin students get to the next level in their playing and broaden their understanding of the bluegrass, old-time and fiddle tune traditions.
A UNIQUE APPROACH: LIVE INSTRUCTION PLUS INSTRUCTIONAL VIDEOS
Part of what makes Bluegrass Mandolin 101 unique is the fact that students follow a step-by-step program of live lessons over an eight-week course. The live lessons get a little more challenging each week, and students are encouraged to practice during the week in order to get comfortable with that week’s concepts in order to be more prepared for the next class session. Students also have unlimited access to several short instructional videos each week (usually about 6 to 8) but are also following a regular schedule which encourages them to actually practice the material regularly during the eight week period. The archive of short instructional videos plus the video recordings of each class session and practice session give the student plenty of material to work with during the course and on into their future mandolin endeavors!
THIS QUARTER’S COURSES
For Spring Quarter, there will be TWO courses offered; Bluegrass Mandolin 101, which will start at a beginning/intermediate level and progress to a solidly intermediate level, and Bluegrass Mandolin 102, which will start at an intermediate level and progress to an intermediate/advanced level. Both courses will in general focus on playing bluegrass songs and tunes in a double stop/position playing style, and will include two new tunes and several new exercises each week. You can view the full curriculum for each course here: Bluegrass Mandolin 101 and Bluegrass Mandolin 102.
The live lessons for the Bluegrass Mandolin 101 course take place every Tuesday night from 8-9 pm Central time from April 1 to May 27, and for the Bluegrass Mandolin 102 course every Wednesday from 8-9 pm Central time from April 2 to May 28. Both courses will also have Saturday practice/review sessions; 101 will be from 10-10:45 am Central time, and 102 will be from 11:30 am-12:15 pm Central time each Saturday from April 5 through May 31 (the week of May 20 will be off, as the instructor has a prior commitment during that week. There will still be eight class sessions and eight practice sessions in each course).
It is NOT imperative that students be able to attend the live mandolin bluegrass sessions. As all sessions will be recorded, students can revisit the recorded sessions during the week to catch up on that week’s material at their own leisure. Students attending the live lessons will be able to ask questions on the spot (and get immediate answers and interaction), while those watching the recorded sessions will be able to ask questions via email or on the class forum page.
VIDEOS, WRITTEN MATERIALS AND RECOMMENDED LISTENING
Students have access to video recordings of all of the class sessions and practice sessions as well (generally by the following morning, or, in the case of the Saturday practice sessions, later that afternoon). In addition, shorter practice videos of the material are immediately available for viewing after each class session, along with PDFs of the all of the material in standard notation and tablature. All of these videos (about eight or so per week) are available to view as many times as the student would like. Students can also download all materials (including videos and PDFs) to keep as long as they wish.
Students will also be given a list of recommended recordings for each week’s tunes. A variety of mp3 recordings will be suggested in the hope that students will broaden their musical horizons and get a better idea of how the tunes are played by the masters!
HOW INTERACTIVE IS THE COURSE?
All live sessions are interactive; students can ask questions and/or demonstrate tunes or exercises via live microphone or telephone, or via a chat window (most students opt for this approach). The instructor is able to immediately respond and demonstrate the answers for the whole class. Another form of interaction comes via mp3 recordings; students can record mp3s on their own time of themselves playing the material (or anything else they want to send in) and send it to the instructor for feedback, which is also recorded in mp3 form and sent back to the student. Students can post their mp3s on the class site (and possibly get encouraging feedback from other students) or email them privately to the instructor.
HOW MUCH DO I NEED TO PRACTICE?
That is completely up to the student. While, say, 30 minutes per day might be a good recommendation for practice time, students can make whatever they choose of this course based on their own schedule and aspirations. Practicing week to week (say, 30 minutes per day) will help students keep up with the week’s lessons and concepts, but the instructor knows that people have busy lives! This is why all instructional material is archived and available for download so that students can learn on their own time after the course has finished as well as during the eight weeks of classes.
Students can decide whether to practice along with the class session or with the shorter individual videos (or both), depending on what they want to focus on for that week. Material is given each week that is targeted toward various ability levels; a song is given which is playable for beginning to intermediate players (or intermediate to advanced in the 102 class), and various concepts relating to that song are also given to educate and challenge players at beginning, intermediate and even advanced levels. The student essentially decides how much they want to take on for the week (and the course) based on their ability level and how much practice time they have. Any material they were unable to get to during the week and want to revisit later will be available in the archived videos and PDFs.
THE CLASS WEBPAGE
This is the virtual gathering place for Bluegrass Mandolin 101 and 102, where students can view the instructional videos, view and/or download all written materials, listen to mp3s of Matt playing the tunes, get listening recommendations, ask questions, submit their own mp3s for feedback and generate forum discussions. It’s a great place to drop by and explore, learn and discuss.
The fee for each eight-week course is $200. This gives you access to all live online lessons and practice sessions as well as access to all recorded videos, written materials and mp3s (which are yours to keep).
Here are a few quotes from some past students about their experiences in Bluegrass Mandolin 101:
“I’ve practiced more in two weeks than I have in months! Really enjoying how it’s going.”—Donna O.
“The level was perfect. Mentally I understand many things that have opened up the fingerboard a lot; now I need some quality time to get it under my hands. I found things challenging without feeling out of reach.”—Stan M.
“It was nice there were various assignments which pushed my ability. Never felt I had “mastered” ALL the homework so never got bored. Always something to work on or do next.”—Joe S.
To visit the registration pages, click one of these links:
You can always ask questions about the courses via email (email@example.com), and I’ll get back to you as quickly as possible. I hope to see you April 1 or 2!
All the best,