“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 this summer with three four-week long intensive courses designed to help you improve your technique, learn the fretboard, learn some tunes and help you have more fun playing the mandolin!
Note that all three courses are follow-up courses to early summer courses (Mandolin Tune Sudies I, Bluegrass Jamming I and Everything Mandolin Jamming I), but students do not need to have taken the earlier course in order to take any of the follow-up courses. Students are welcome to jump in any time!
The Mandolin Tune Studies II course (August 15-September 10) is intended to help students create variations and improvise on fiddle tunes and bluegrass songs—though the concepts will apply to any style of music. Upon registering, students will receive PDFs in tablature and standard notation for two tunes: Cotton Eyed Joe and The Road to Columbus, along with mp3s of each tune and links to videos of the tunes played slowly. During the four-week course, we’ll look at various ways of playing the melodies to both tunes as well as various ways of getting outside the melodies using double stops, positions up the neck, blues ideas and different rhythms and licks. Each week, we’ll explore a different approach to soloing and talk about how to use these approaches on our two tunes and relate these concepts to other tunes and songs students may already know. The goal is to create more possibilities in our soloing and to have more fun playing music with other people—and to learn two tunes REALLY well!
The Bluegrass Mandolin Jamming II course (August 16-September 10) is intended to help students play bluegrass music with other people. Each week, students will receive four new tunes (from beginner to advanced level) along with ways of playing rhythm, approaches to creating variations on the tune, and some exercises to help with fundamental technique. The goal is to help students learn more tunes, learn practical approaches to playing those tunes, and get out and play with other people!
The Everything Mandolin Jamming II course (August 17-September 10) is intended to help students expand their musical horizons with familiar songs that seem to work their way into jam sessions now and then (and you walk away thinking “I wish I had learned that one”). Various styles of lead playing and rhythm playing will be explored, including folk, rock and a bit of swing and blues. Students will be given the melodies and chords to four songs each week, along with suggestions for creating their own solos, practical guides to playing the chords and rhythmic exercises to help students feel comfortable with the various grooves and rhythmic feels. Students will be encouraged to learn the chords to all four songs and to especially focus on one song for the melody and soloing suggestions (whichever song best suits their ability level, or whichever song they like best!). Songs by Bob Dylan, Richard Thompson, the Beatles, Tom Petty, the Rolling Stones and many more will be explored. It’s a great way to learn more about the fretboard while getting some practical guides to lead and accompaniment—and most of all, to have fun playing music! The course is intended for players of all ability levels (though absolute beginners will likely find it too difficult) who want to expand their musical possibilities.
The Mandolin Tune Studies II course (August 15-September 10) meets on Monday evenings at 9 pm eastern time, with follow-up practice sessions Saturdays at 10 am eastern time. Students will have four Monday class sessions (August 15, 22, 29 and September 5) and four Saturday follow-up practice sessions (August 20, 27, September 3 and 10). All live sessions are recorded and uploaded to a class website, where they are viewable generally by the following day (in the case of Saturday practice sessions, they’re usually available to view later that day). Register here.
The Bluegrass Mandolin Jamming II course (August 16-September 10) course takes place on Tuesday afternoons and evenings at 2 and 9 pm eastern time. We’ll also have practice/review sessions on Saturdays 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 August 16, 23, 30 and September 6, and Saturday follow-up practice sessions will take place August 20, 27, September 3 and 10. All live sessions are recorded and uploaded to a class website, where they are viewable generally by the following day (in the case of Saturday practice sessions, they’re usually available to view later that day). Register here.
The Everything Mandolin Jamming II course (August 17-September 10) meets on Wednesday evenings at 9 pm eastern time, with follow-up practice sessions Saturday mornings at 12:30 pm eastern time. Students will have four Wednesday class sessions (August 17, 24, 31 and September 6) and four Saturday follow-up practice sessions (August 20, 27, September 3 and 10). All live sessions are recorded and uploaded to a class website, where they are viewable generally by the following day (in the case of Saturday practice sessions, they’re usually available to view later that day). Register here.
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.
The course fee for each course is $125.
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 4-week summer courses are $125 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: