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Matt Flinner

Bluegrass Mandolin for Beginners Begins October 6th

This course has concluded.  To view the current list of courses offered, visit the Winter Online Course page.


Bluegrass Mandolin for Beginners is an eight-week online program designed to give the beginning mandolin student a solid foundation in basic mandolin technique, and help students start playing actual songs and tunes from the start. Chords, picking exercises, fingering exercises, rhythm exercises as well as tunes and songs will be taught each week in a progressive curriculum to help students establish good habits and enable them to advance more quickly in their mandolin playing.

Register here.

The eight-week course begins on October 6th and runs until December 13th.  Class sessions will take place every Monday evening from 8-8:45 pm central time, and follow-up practice sessions will take place every Saturday morning from 9-9:45 am central time (Matt will be taking off the weeks of October 27 and November 24 off due to his tour schedule and the Thanksgiving holiday; there will be eight class sessions and eight practice sessions over a ten-week period).  All class sessions and practice sessions will be recorded so that students can revisit the lessons as often as they’d like to, and students who are unable to attend any of the live sessions can view the lessons at their own convenience.

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, and can also download all materials (videos and class session videos included) to keep them permanently.
Students are also encouraged to submit mp3 recordings at any time during the course if they would like to, 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 the course is $150.  If you have questions about the course, email Matt at [email protected].

Register for Mandolin for Beginners here.





Getting familiar with the mandolin

How to choose a pick, mandolin set-up and tuning

A Few Chords

A Few Picking Patterns

Fingering Position

Playing chords on Will the Circle Be Unbroken

Bonus material: This Land is Your Land



Playing melodies

Picking Pattern 2

Chords in A

A Major scale

BIle Them Cabbage Down

Bonus material: Woody’s Rag



Picking pattern 3

Fingering Exercise I

D major scale

Angeline the Baker

Bonus material: Wildwood Flower



Picking pattern 4

A few minor chords

Rhythm patterns

G major scale

Old Joe Clark

Bonus material: Shady Grove



Adding ornaments, Slides and Hammer-ons

Fingering Exercise II

Playing rhythm in Waltz time

Rhythm on Goodnight Irene

Muddy Roads

Bonus material: Eighth of January



Getting to know the neck a little better

Closed position A major scale

Three Closed position chords

Red Haired Boy

Bonus material: Over the Waterfall



Intro to position playing

A few double stops

Bluegrass “Chop Chords”

Will the Circle Be Unbroken

Bonus material: I’ll Fly Away



Transitions between lead and rhythm

Trying other keys (with tunes from week 7)

Soldier’s Joy

Bonus material: Blackberry Blossom


Questions?  Email Matt: [email protected].


2 comments on “Bluegrass Mandolin for Beginners Begins October 6th

  1. stewart pottinger says:

    Hi Matt.
    Not sure if I am getting through.
    Thank you for telling me of this course when I spoke with you following the Bluegrass Gospel Church Service in Moniaive on Sunday. I look forward, very much, to doing this course as a major follow up to the mandolin workshop I attended with you on the Saturday. I am convinced it will be very useful for me.
    Thank you once again,


    • flinner says:

      Hi Stewart,
      Great! Looking forward to having you in the course. Let me know if you need anything.
      It was great meeting you this past weekend.

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