mandolin workshop

October 16, 2007 at 3:52 pm | Posted in aspirations | Leave a comment

this weekend I attended a mandolin workshop taught by Matt Flinner. I learned lots of good stuff, especially things I can work on, and some good exercises to improve my playing. he had a lot of good tips for improv, which is a lot of what I do. so that was cool, and it was actually encouraging to be confirmed in a lot of the stuff I’ve already discovered on my own.

there were only 7 of us in the class, and I was the odd man out in various ways: I had the only A-style mando, I was the only who doesnt play bluegrass, and I had my octave mando too, which of course was unusual. leave it to me to not only play a relatively obscure instrument, but to play that obscure instrument in an obscure way. in fact, on the most popular mandolin website there’s a message board with various categories of styles of play. I dont think my stuff fits in any of those categories. but that’s fine with me.

I was impressed at how good almost all of the other folks were — they all knew a lot of standard bluegrass tunes and good pick them pretty well. when we were jamming in a circle, each person would take a turn with the melody. everyone knew the tunes pretty well except me, but I’m ok at making stuff up, so I just went with it. I have no idea what everyone else thought (some bluegrassers can get pretty snooty) but I had fun with it. I was actually surprised at how nervous I was, and equally surprised that my turn didnt sound too terrible, even if it sounded nothing like the melody of the tune we were doing. so it was fun.

the instructor was encouraging too, having nice things to say about my octave mando and my improv skills. we were chatting between sessions about octave stuff and I played him a little bit of the tune I’ve been working on (“solitude”), and he thought it was nice, which was cool to hear. of course part of me says “what else would he say?” but even to get a little nod from someone with such skill and experience is encouraging.

now I just need to take the materials from the class and work on them some more. a big part of my playing style involves a series double-stops (2 related notes played at the same time) that I’ve stumbled on and he gave us a bunch of other double-stops that would work, so I’ll see what I can do with that.


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