Some beginning mandolin exercises
A question came up on a Facebook page that I follow about exercise and such that beginners would benefit from. I offered a few suggestions, with some written exercises. I will also put them here, so that they can be more easily located in the future. This is by no means a comprehensive list, but just a few relatively easy exercises to learn to reinforce some fundamental skills DownUp Exercises Part 1 G Major Exercises Part 1 D Major Exercises Part 1 A Major Exercises Part 1
Double Stop Position Playing
The double stops that form intervals of fourth, a major third, and a minor third form an important framework that informs how I see the mandolin fretboard and how to navigate between different positions and through chord changes. Sharon Gilchrist, I think, was the first person I heard call these the short, medium and long double stops and I like that way of describing them. Before hearing that I always called them by the intervals that they form, the perfect fourth, the major third, and the minor third. The short double stop is the one that has a difference between the lower and higher strings of two frets (or one…
Wernick Method Jamming Class
I started teaching a new Wernick Method Jamming Class in January. Enrollment was very enthusiastic and we ended up with a short waiting list. The class assumes an entry level knowledge of basic chord changes in a few easy keys. From there we build on how to lead and follow songs in a jam, including kickoffs and endings, communicating via the number system, transposing, creating solos, singing harmonies and much more. More information on the program can be found at letspick.org
2019 Festival Season Begins!
I get so excited planning my route for the year. In February, I was at Wintergrass and, immediately following, I reserved my place for next year and then began the planning for the rest of the 2019 season. Next week I will be heading to California for Walker Creek Music Camp. My primary role will be as a teaching assistant for the bass class, which I think is going to be a great time. I will also host a few elective jams, including one that welcomes the new attendees on the first day. Next month, I’ll be closer to home at the Bluegrass From The Forest Bluegrass Festival in Shelton,…
Navigating by double stops
Double stops generally means playing two notes at once on two adjacent strings courses. When I first learned about double stops, the focus was on playing harmonized melodies. But in time, I recognized in a lot of my playing that double stop positions were something I frequently used as a navigation tool for playing in any key. I’m going to try to explain that in more detail in subsequent articles. The goal is to understand how we can use double stop postitions as a navigation aid for playing in various keys. We will look at an approach for finding anchor fingerings for playing in different keys and how these positions…
The home away from home
One change this year that made it possible to attend so many music camps and festivals was the little camper that we acquired at the beginning of the year. Access to electricity, heat, a place to stay along the way – it made it so much easier to get to festivals, to stay late, to get up early, whatever it took.
2018 turned out to be a pretty good year, musically. I attended many more festivals and music camps than I had in the previous year. In February, Wintergrass took place in Bellevue, WA. I saw some great shows, met up with many friends, and got in a lot of jamming in the hotel lobbies and hallways. Walker Creek Music Camp in April was great! I was a teaching assistant for one of my favorite mandolin players and teachers, John Reischman. May brought the Bluegrass From the Forest festival in Shelton, WA. I played on stage with the Pine Top Pickers and found some stellar jams around the campgrounds. In June,…
Mandolin theory and practice
This is the first musical post on this site. I hope, over time, to share some insights I’ve had while studying mandolin. Some will involve technique but many will also involve music theory as it applies to mandolin. The mandolin in its standard tuning is very logical and regular. That actually makes theory in some ways easier to grasp on mandolin than on some other instruments I’ve played such as guitar or piano. The thing about studying theory is that I think you have to do it at various points along the way, but never while your playing. That’s the dilemma. For me, the best playing disengages my analytical mind and…