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Matt Flinner

Winter 2015 Swing Mandolin Curriculum

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


Explore the wonderful world of swing mandolin with Grammy-nominated mandolinist Matt Flinner.  Learn a new swing tune (or two) each week and get pointers on how to play chords and backup as well as approaches to improvising.  This course will be very much into chord voicings, scales, arpeggios and how they all relate to one another.  It’s a great way to expand your playing and musicianship (and learn some great tunes)!  The eight online lessons will take place every Monday or Tuesday night (your choice) from January 5th or 6th until March 3rd (with February 3rd off due to Matt’s touring schedule) and eight follow-up practice sessions will take place on Saturday mornings from January 10th to March 7th (again, with a week off on February 7th).

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 $200.  If you have questions about the course, email Matt at [email protected].

Register for Swing Mandolin with Matt Flinner on Mondays here.

Register for Swing Mandolin with Matt Flinner on Tuesdays here.


To view other online mandolin courses being offered this winter, click here.



Week 1: the Blues

finding the important notes (3rds and 7ths)

7th Chord Inversions

Playing a Blues Chord Progression Smoothly

Dominant 7 Arpeggios

Mixolydian scales

The Blues Scale

Route 66

Blues in the Closet


Week 2: the ii-V-I

Some ii-V-I licks

Getting our basic tools: Major 7 Arpeggios + Minor 7 Arpeggios

Major Scales + Dorian Scales

How High the Moon

When You’re Smiling


Week 3: Going Around the Circle of 5ths

Identifying notes in the circle

Playing a few musical lines around the circle

3-note Seventh Chords around the circle

The Bebop Scale

It’s Only a Paper Moon



Week 4: More ii-V-I Progressions

ii-V-I chords in two different inversions

Some More ii-V-I Licks in Various Keys

Combining Major, Dorian and Mixolydian Scales

Honeysuckle Rose

Satin Doll


Week 5: The I-VI-ii-V-I Progession

More chord inversions

Finding Common Tones Between Chords

Arpeggiating Through a Chord Progression

Back Home in Indiana



Week 6: Some Ballads

Navigating Ballads with Tremolo, Triplets and Sixteenth Notes

Triplet Exercises

Stormy Weather

Georgia on My Mind


Week 7: Minor Keys

Harmonic minor scales

The minor ii-V-i

Half-diminished arpeggios

Dark Eyes

I’ve Found a New Baby


Week 8: A Bit of Chord Melody

Adding ornaments to various chord inversions

Throwing some chord melody fragments into your solos

Swanee River

Tea For Two


Questions?  Email [email protected].


2 comments on “Winter 2015 Swing Mandolin Curriculum

  1. Jim Koweek says:

    Matt, Would like to take the to take the Swing Class but am limited by satellite internet. Would this be an issue if I wasn’t able to watch/participate during the scheduled classes? Also are you planning on covering any aspects of Western Swing in the classes. Thanks Jim

    • flinner says:

      Hi Jim,

      Thanks for getting in touch. It is definitely not an issue if you’re not able to be there during the live sessions; I’ve got several students who take courses from me who watch most or all of the recorded videos of the sessions after the fact (all class sessions and practice sessions are recorded and viewable any time). The main disadvantage is that you can’t ask questions at the time of the lesson—but you can ask questions any time on the class Forum page or to me directly via email (plus you can pause the videos of the sessions to focus on specific tunes or exercises).

      I’m not planning on covering Western Swing specifically, though a few tunes are on the long list that might slip into the curriculum (like Panhandle Rag). But all of what we cover should be usable in Western Swing—the chord forms and colors, scales, general vocabulary etc. definitely cross over and will hopefully be useful in both styles.

      Let me know if you have any other questions.

      Thanks Jim!


      Matt Flinner

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