“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 winter with courses intended to help students improve their skills in bluegrass mandolin playing and perhaps branch out into some other related styles. Bluegrass Mandolin 101, Advanced Bluegrass Soloing and Folk & Bluegrass Mandolin Rhythm will help students improve their fundamentals, learn the fretboard, improve their rhythm playing as well as soloing—all while learning a couple of new tunes each week. And all with the goal of having more fun playing the mandolin!
The Bluegrass Mandolin 101 course (January 9-March 11): this course will introduce students to the use of double stops and various positions on the neck, as well as various picking and fingerboard exercises to help develop good mandolin technique and knowledge of the fretboard. Each week, students are given two standard bluegrass tunes (and encouraged to learn at least one of them); that week’s exercises are correlated to the tunes during the week’s practice session so that students find practical ways of using the exercises in their playing.
The course is intended for players at a beginning to intermediate ability level (though absolute beginners will have a difficult time keeping up—knowledge of basic chords and rhythm playing will help!). Register here.
The Advanced Bluegrass Mandolin Soloing course (January 10-March 11): in this course, we’ll examine the mandolin styles of many of the bluegrass masters: Bill Monroe, Jesse McReynolds, Tim O’Brien, Adam Steffey and many others, and we’ll try incorporating and expanding on various aspects of their playing on a couple of bluegrass standard songs (or sometimes not-so-standard, but great tunes!). Each week, students will look at two recorded solos by one of the greats, along with some related exercises to help both improve technique and find ways of using melodic ideas in other solos.
The course is recommended for intermediate to advanced players. Register here.
The Folk & Bluegrass Mandolin Rhythm course (January4-March 5): this course will help students learn ways of playing rhythm in bluegrass and folk music, with a bit of blues and “newgrass” mixed in. Basic chord forms will be given, and the course will gradually build on these into chord inversions, double stops and melodic “fills.” Songs will be taught in several keys to help students get more comfortable with the fretboard and gain more confidence to be able to play more effectively in jam sessions. Each week, students will be given chord exercises and rhythm exercises along with two or more songs to practice. Some of those exercises will be more basic, and as we go through the class session, the exercises will get more advanced. Each week, students will be encouraged to focus on the exercises that best suit their ability level. The goal will be to help students become more adept at playing rhythm in various keys and styles and develop a more solid sense of timing.
The course is intended for players at a beginning to intermediate ability level (though absolute beginners will have a difficult time keeping up—knowledge of basic chords and rhythm playing will help!), or for players at any level who are looking to improve their chord vocabulary and rhythm playing.
The course fee for any winter course is $225.
The Bluegrass Mandolin 101 course (January 9-March 11) takes place on Monday evenings at 9 pm eastern time. We’ll also have practice/review sessions on Saturdays at 10 am eastern time. Monday class sessions will take place from January 9-March 6, and Saturday follow-up practice sessions will take place from January 14-March 11. The week of February 20 will be off, so students will have a little extra time to review! 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 Advanced Bluegrass Mandolin Soloing course (January 10-March 11) meets on Tuesdays at 2 pm and 9 pm eastern time, with follow-up practice sessions Saturday mornings at 11 am eastern time. Students will have eight Tuesday class sessions (January 10-March 7) and eight Saturday follow-up practice sessions (January 14-March 11). The week of February 21 will be off, so students will have a little extra time to review! 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 Folk & Bluegrass Mandolin Rhythm course (January 4-March 5) 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 4-March 1) and eight Saturday follow-up practice sessions (January 7-March 5). 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 often available to view later that 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.
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.
The course fee for any winter course is $225.
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: