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Matt Flinner

Bluegrass Mandolin 101 and 102 Fall Classes Are Here

These courses have concluded.  To view the current list of courses offered, visit the Winter Online Course page.


Bluegrass Mandolin 101 and 102 are back!  Registration is now open for the Fall 2014 101 and 102 courses.

Join Matt Flinner for online mandolin lessons each week from the convenience of your own home.  The next Bluegrass Mandolin 101 and 102 courses, “Tunes, Technique and Improvisation,” begin October 7th and 8th and run through December 13, 2014.  Each week, Matt will demonstrate new concepts and exercises along with a new tune (plus a bonus tune for the more ambitious student) to help you improve your mandolin technique, make better use of practice time, get more familiar with bluegrass and old-time music and have more fun playing music on your own and with others.

Both of the fall courses are fiddle tune-based, and will use various fiddle tunes as vehicles for improving technique, learning the fretboard and working toward creating variations and improvising.

The 101 level course is designed to help the mandolinist at a beginning to intermediate level improve the fundamentals of his or her playing and his or her ability to improvise, while expanding repertoire along the way.  Register for 101 here.

The 102 level course is designed for mandolinists at an intermediate to advanced level to help them expand on improvisational concepts, learn more about the fretboard and push their playing to the next level.  Register for 102 here.

Both courses will focus on a few main areas:

1. Improving picking technique to improve tone, rhythm, volume and speed.
2. Improving knowledge of the fingerboard through scales, arpeggios, licks, double stops, modes and exercises.
3. Creating variations on common tunes through various methods: using different octaves & registers, using chord tones and “target” notes, using various ornaments, incorporating double stops, and listening to recorded examples.
4. Working toward improvisation using all of the above tools.
5. Expanding your repertoire of bluegrass and fiddle tunes.

101 level classes will meet every Tuesday from 8-9 pm CST, and practice sessions will be held every Saturday from 10-10:45 am central time.

102 level classes will meet every Wednesday from 8-9 pm CST, and practice sessions will be held every Saturday from 11:15-noon central time.

All sessions (class and practice) will be video recorded, so that students may revisit the sessions as often as they would like, and students who were unable to attend the live sessions will be able to view them at their own convenience.  (NOTE: Matt will be taking off the weeks of Oct 27 and Nov 24 due to his touring schedule and the Thanksgiving holiday.  Lessons will resume each of the following weeks; in total, there will be eight class sessions and eight practice sessions over a period of ten weeks.)
During the live sessions, students can ask questions and/or play examples via their microphone (built-in or external plug-in), or they can ask questions via a built-in chat window.
All students will also have unlimited access to short recorded videos of all of the material played at a slow tempo, PDFs of all material in both standard notation and mandolin tablature, and mp3s of all of the tunes at slow and medium speeds that they can practice along with.  Students can access all of this material at any time through the class website.
Students are also encouraged to submit mp3 recordings at any time during the course, and the instructor will respond in an mp3 recording with constructive criticism.  Students can submit these mp3s either privately via email or publicly via the class website, where all students can listen and respond if they choose to.  Mp3 submissions are encouraged but not required, and there is no limit on how many mp3 submissions a student can send in.
Students will also be given a “Recommended Listening” list each week for the material covered.  A variety of versions of each tune will be provided in the hopes that students will listen to recordings and further explore the wide world of recorded bluegrass and old-time music.


1. A desktop or laptop Mac or PC computer, iPad or Internet-connected mobile device in order to view the sessions, plus a good internet connection.

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 andsave the recording in MP3 format.

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

The fee for each course is $200.  Students taking both courses simultaneously receive a 10% discount ($40 off total) and suggestions on where to obtain strong doses of caffeine and/or psychological counseling.  If you are interested in taking both courses, email [email protected] to make sure you get the discount.  Questions about the courses can also be emailed to [email protected].






Register here.


WEEK 1 (Oct 7): Picking and rhythm

Picking Exercises I

Fingering Exercises I

Scales: D Major and G Major

Open style chords

Eighth of January

Bonus material: The Speed of the Plow


WEEK 2 (Oct 14): Getting a fuller sound using open strings

Picking Exercises II

Fingering Exercises II

Open style backup in G

Arkansas Traveler

Bonus material: Cotton Eyed Joe


WEEK 3 (Oct 21): Octave variations

Picking Exercises III (three and four string exercises)

Fingering Exercises III

Scale Patterns: thirds in D and G

Open style backup in D

Whiskey Before Breakfast

Bonus material: Leather Britches


WEEK 4 (Nov 4): Transitions between octaves

Learning Chord Tones

Major Arpeggios

3 Chord Inversions

Playing backup using basslines and moving chords


Bonus material: June Apple


WEEK 5 (Nov 11): Throwing in some licks

Scales: A Major and A Mixolydian; D Major and D Mixolydian

Open style chords in A and C

Dominant Arpeggios

Salt Creek

Bonus Material: Weave and Way


WEEK 6 (Nov 18): Creating variations using target notes

Minor Arpeggios

Using Bluegrass “Chop” Chords

Cuckoo’s Nest

Bonus Material: Flowers of Edinburgh


WEEK 7 (Dec 2): Incorporating Double Stops into Your Solos

Double Stop Exercise in A

Scales: A Dorian, D Dorian

Pike County Breakdown

Bonus material: Shove the Pig’s Foot a Little Closer to the Fire


WEEK 8 (Dec 9): Various approaches to improvising

Pulling it all together: octave changes, chord tones, licks and double stops as part of your solos

Bonaparte’s Retreat

Bonus material: Liza Jane






Register here.


WEEK 1 (Oct 8): Creating octave variations & transitions between octaves

Warmup exercises

Adding some ornaments (hammer-ons, pull-offs, etc.)

Ear training exercise I

East Tennessee Blues

Bonus material: Cripple Creek variations


WEEK 2 (Oct 15): Adding some runs to your solos

Some V to I Licks

Ear Training Exercise II

Cherokee Shuffle

Bonus material: Stoney Creek


WEEK 3 (Oct 22): Using Some Bluesy licks

Blues scales in D and A

Blues licks in two positions

I to IV Licks

Elzic’s Farewell

Bonus Material: Old Daingerfield


WEEK 4 (Nov 5): Key of E

E Major Scale & Pattern

E Mixolydian Scale & Pattern

Ear training exercise III

Glory at the Meeting House

Bonus material: Crosseyed Fiddler


WEEK 5 (Nov 12): Adding Some Double Stops to Your Playing

D Double Stops (I, IV and V chords)

D minor Double Stops (I, IV and V chords)

Lonesome Fiddle Blues

Bonus material: Down Yonder


WEEK 6 (Nov 19):

Playing Up the Neck

Diatonic patterns up the neck

Pentatonic patterns up the neck

Sally Gooden

Bonus tune: Road to Columbus


WEEK 7 (Dec 3): Playing rags

Circle of fifths exercises

7th Chord Inversions & Diminished Chords

Complex Chord Patterns—how to smooth them out

Some More V-I Licks

Beaumont Rag

Bonus material: I Don’t Love Nobody


WEEK 8 (Dec 10): Tying it all together: using octaves, licks, patterns, target notes and double stops to create variations

Exercises for speed

Exercises for the fingering hand

The Gold Rush

Bonus material: Paddy on the Turnpike


10 comments on “Bluegrass Mandolin 101 and 102 Fall Classes Are Here

  1. Noah Landes says:

    i tried to attend your workshop at jalopy theater today and was disappointed to find out that it was cancelled due to your tour. Anyway, I would like to take the workshop if it is rescheduled and am looking into taking the mandolin 101 course starting in October. Thanks!

    • flinner says:

      Hi Noah,
      Sorry about that! The Jalopy emailed the folks who had signed up, but that obviously didn’t help for folks like you who just decided to show up. So sorry you went to the trouble. I am looking into rescheduling for sometime in November or January and will post here as soon as it is confirmed. If you’re on the Jalopy email list, you should get an email, or I can put you on my list so that you’ll get the word from me.
      If you have any questions about the 101 or 102 courses, let me know.
      Thanks Noah!

  2. Roby Braud says:

    I am a retired US Marine living in Okinawa, Japan and am very interested in taking your 101 class. Unfortunately, my work schedule changes every week from a day to night schedule. Do you think this would be an issue?
    I am currently taking lessons via Skype with David Benedict. He is a wonderful teacher and musician.

    Semper Fi,

    • flinner says:

      Hi Roby,

      Very cool! I’ve had other students who’ve been unable to make some (or even all) of the live sessions, and they were able to come back to the recordings of the sessions at their own convenience. So I don’t think it’ll be a problem—if you miss any sessions, it mainly means you won’t be able to ask questions at the time. But you can email me questions any time afterward, or post them on the class forum.
      I hope that helps. Good to hear you’re taking lessons with David. He’s a good human being!

      Let me know if you need any more info.


  3. Andrew Lovejoy says:

    Hi Matt,

    How often do you offer classes like this? I’d love to take them, but am not sure if I’ll be able to this fall. If I miss this session, how long will I have to wait before you do another one?



    • flinner says:

      Hi Andrew,

      I offer the courses about once every three months, though the curriculum changes. The next courses will begin in early January and will be focused on bluegrass style, using a lot of double stops and position playing. There will be a 101 and 102 level for these, as there are with the current courses. The next time I offer the “Tunes, Technique and Improvisation” will either be in the spring of 2015 (starting in April) or else about a year from now. I hope that helps! Let me know if you need any more info.

      Also, just so you know, all the sessions are recorded so that students who were not able to attend the live sessions can view them later, and they can also revisit them as often as they wish.

      Thanks Andrew!

      Matt Flinner

  4. Walt Windish says:

    Hey Matt,
    Is the material for each course available to students after the course has ended? If so, how long? (I’m just wondering if it will be around to review in early January.) Is everything downloadable?

    • flinner says:

      Hi Walt,
      Yes, all of the materials are available to view after the course ends, and all materials can also be downloaded so that students can keep them permanently. The videos will be available to view online for at least six months after the course is finished, and the written materials and mp3s will be available for about three weeks after the course is finished. Again, though, all of these are downloadable as soon as they’re available to view.
      I hope that helps! Let me know if you have any other questions.


  5. loren says:

    when will this course be offered again?

    • flinner says:

      Hi Loren,
      Sorry for the delay in getting back to you! My spam folder has been absolutely inundated lately and it’s taken me a while to sort through it all. This course will be offered again next fall, most likely, but there are other courses being offered every three months. The next ones begin in January, and can be found here: https://www.mattflinner.com/2014/11/swing-and-old-time-mandolin-online-courses-begin-january-6-7/ One will focus on old-time tunes, one on swing and jazz, and one on getting started (for beginners). I hope that helps! Let me know if you have any other questions. Sorry again for the delay!


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