“This was the best online learning experience I’ve ever had. And, for the time and money, the best music learning experience in any format: DVD, video, group, or individual live lessons.”—Christine R.
“After buying six mandolins and umpteen books…I am convinced your course is best $100 I have invested in my mandolin journey to date. Finally, I’m getting the discpline I need with your exercises to learn scales, arpeggios, double stops, fingering techniques, learn the fretboard (the essential tools I need)…and most importantly to learn how those things fit into playing tunes.”—Rick D.
The Bluegrass Mandolin 101 online lessons program continues in winter of 2022 with three eight-week long courses in various styles of American string band music, from the roots of old-time songs and fiddle tunes to the upper stratosphere of modern bluegrass and jazz-influenced fiddle tunes. Courses for a variety of levels from advanced beginner to intermediate to advanced students will be offered on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays, with follow-up practice sessions on Saturdays from early January through mid-March. Show up live for the streamed sessions on Zoom or stream them later on the class website. Or both!
The Old-Time Mandolin 101: Old-Time Songs and the Carter Family will focus on getting students more familiar with Appalachian old-time songs and help them improve their mandolin fundamentals along the way. Students will get pointers on how to maximize their tone, various approaches to rhythm playing and chords, making use of open strings, double stops as well as learning a new song (or two or three!) each week. Each week, we’ll look at two standard songs from the old-time repertoire, plus one song from the Carter Family (some of which are also part of the standard old-time repertoire). We’ll learn ways of playing lead starting with simple melodies, then gradually progressing to more advanced concepts such as adding double stops, changing octaves, stepping away from the melody and more. The goal is to help students be able to play more effectively with others, be able to accompany themselves when singing, improve their picking skills and knowledge of the fretboard, and, especially, to have more fun playing the mandolin.
The course is intended for students at a beginner to intermediate level. More advanced students may benefit from the tone exercises and focus on fundamentals (plus learn some great tunes!).
The Advanced Fiddle Tunes and Improvisation course is intended to help the intermediate to advanced mandolinist learn some new tunes while exploring various ways of learning the fretboard and improving their improvisational skills. Fiddle tunes in various keys will be taught each week, and students will be given suggestions on how to improvise and/or create variations on these tunes. Special attention will be given to more “modern” fiddle tunes by the likes of John Hartford, Darol Anger, Norman Blake, Vassar Clements and others. Scale and arpeggio exercises, picking exercises and fingering exercises will also be given to help students increase their improvisation skills. Students will explore melodic ideas from bluegrass, Texas fiddle tunes and jazz to expand their improvisational tool kit.
The course is intended for intermediate to advanced level students.
The Old-Time Mandolin 102: Tunes and Techniques will introduce students to old-time tunes at a variety of difficulty levels while drilling the fundamentals: getting students to improve their picking skills, learning double stops in various keys, and improving tone and speed along the way. Each week, we’ll look at three or four old-time fiddle tunes at various levels of difficulty; students can decide which tune(s) to focus on based on their ability level and interest. We’ll add various exercises each week to help with difficult picking passages, help students get better tone, and add drone strings and double stops for a fuller sound. We’ll also look at the similarities between playing lead and rhythm in old-time music, and talk about the mandolin’s unique role as a lead and/or rhythm player; we’ll even blur the lines between lead and backup and find ways of playing in an old-time jam where we can maximize the mandolin’s unique sound. The goal of the course will be to help students be more comfortable playing with other people, improve their picking, tone, volume and confidence, and, as always, to have more fun playing the mandolin!
The course is intended for students at an intermediate level, but more advanced students may benefit from the picking and tone exercises and the focus on other fundamentals (plus learn a whole lot of great tunes!).
The Old-Time Mandolin 101: Old-Time Songs and the Carter Family course (January 10-March 12) course takes place on Monday evenings at 9 pm eastern time. We’ll also have practice/review sessions on Saturdays at 10 am eastern time. Students will have eight Monday class sessions (January 10, 17, 24, 31, February 14, 21, 28 and March 7) and eight Saturday follow-up practice sessions (January 15, 22, 29, February 5, 19, 26 and March 5 and 12). All live sessions are recorded and uploaded to a class website, where they are viewable generally by the following day. Register here.
The Advanced Fiddle Tunes and Improvisation course (January 11-March 19) meets on Tuesday afternoons and evenings at 2 pm and 9 pm eastern time, with follow-up practice sessions Saturday mornings at 11 am eastern time. NOTE: Tuesday afternoon sessions take place at 2 pm eastern time—a more convenient time for our friends in the UK and Europe! 2 pm eastern time translates to 7 or 8 pm in the UK and most of Europe. Students are welcome to join in on either or both of the Tuesday sessions each week (they will be essentially identical to one another in content). Tuesday class sessions will take place January 11, 18, 25, February 1, 15, 22, March 1 and 15, and Saturday follow-up practice sessions will take place January 15, 22, 29, February 5, 19, 26 and March 5 and 19. All live sessions are recorded and uploaded to a class website, where they are viewable generally by the following day. Register here.
The Old-Time Mandolin 102: Tunes and Techniques course (January 12-March 19) meets on Wednesday evenings at 9 pm eastern time, with follow-up practice sessions Saturdays at 12:30 pm eastern time. Students will have eight Wednesday class sessions (January 12, 19, 26, February 9, 16, 23, March 2 and 16) and eight Saturday follow-up practice sessions (January 15, 22, 29, February 12, 19, 26 and March 5 and 19). All live sessions are recorded and uploaded to a class website, where they are viewable generally by the following day. Register here.
ALL class materials (PDFs, practice mp3s, short practice videos and class session videos) are available for students to download and keep for future use.
The course fee for each course is $225.
All students access to the live sessions as well as all materials (PDFs, mp3s, practice videos and class session videos), which they can download for future use.
Here’s a little more info about the Bluegrass Mandolin 101 online experience that I hope will give you a good idea of how the program works.
BLUEGRASS MANDOLIN 101
Matt Flinner started the Bluegrass Mandolin 101 program in the fall of 2013. Along the way, the program has helped hundreds of students improve their mandolin playing in a wide variety of styles. The program offers a unique approach to online mandolin lessons that gives students the best of both live lessons as well as recorded mandolin instructional videos, audio recordings and written materials. The courses focus on helping mandolin students get to the next level in their playing and broaden their understanding of a variety of American musical traditions.
A UNIQUE APPROACH: LIVE INSTRUCTION AND INSTRUCTIONAL VIDEOS
Part of what makes the Bluegrass Mandolin 101 program unique is the fact that students follow a step-by-step program of live lessons over a four or eight week course. The courses follow a carefully planned curriculum in the given style or area of technique, and the live lessons get a little more challenging each week as the course progresses. Classes meet twice per week: on Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday evening, depending on the course, and on Saturday morning/afternoon, when students can join a follow-up practice session to review that week’s material. Students can view the live lessons via their computer, iPad or smart phone. Students are encouraged to ask questions during the class sessions via a chat window and/or their external or built-in microphone (this microphone is muted unless the student requests to use it). And students do not need a webcam.
All live sessions are also recorded so that students can review them any time if they are unable to make it to the live sessions; this also gives students the added convenience of going through the material as many times as they want to. Students are given access to a private class website where they can find these recorded sessions and they can also view and download all PDFs of the materials and several practice mp3s of that week’s song(s) recorded at various tempos. Students will also be given download links for all class videos so that they can view them offline at their convenience on into the future. In essence, all materials from the course are for the students to keep.
One aspect of the live class schedule that makes the program so effective is that students are generally more encouraged to practice in order to keep up with the schedule. Students are given a list of suggested priorities each week, depending on their ability level and amount of practice time, and all material is then reviewed in the Saturday practice session so that students get another chance to run through it with the instructor. Just by showing up, students will run through the material twice each week—for many of us, that’s already an improvement!
HOW INTERACTIVE ARE THE COURSES?
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 likely get encouraging feedback from other students in addition to the instructor) 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 (again, 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. However, one advantage to the four-week scheduled course is that by practicing at least somewhat regularly, students are more able to be prepared for the following week’s lessons and therefore take full advantage of the live and recorded mix of lesson material.
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, depending on the course), 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 instructor will also give students a recommended list of priorities each week to help students take the best advantage of their practice time.
THE CLASS WEBPAGE
This is the virtual gathering place for the courses, 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 any time and explore, learn and discuss.
Fees for the 8-week summer courses are $225 each.
Here are a few quotes from some past students about their experiences in the Bluegrass Mandolin 101 program:
“I’ve participated in many online learning programs, but so far, your format is the best I’ve ever seen. I am so pleased I happened upon your courses.”—Gina M.
“I’ve practiced more in two weeks than I have in months! Really enjoying how it’s going.”—Donna O.
“I have to say that making everything available online is a great convenience for me. Being able to stop and return to a more challenging exercise or a newer phrase is great for learning. I also really appreciate your availability to answer questions offline. This is a great course, and I feel as though I’m improving daily because of it.”—Joe C.
“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.
“I’m really enjoying the course. The first time I’ve actually practiced an instrument in my 60 years!”—Skip H.
To visit the registration pages, click one of these links: