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Showing posts from November, 2009

A First Mandolin

I've been asked via a DM on Twitter for advice about purchasing a first mandolin for a beginner.  A proper response will need more than 140 characters, so here I am!

Firstly, I should congratulate you on having the good sense to consider learning to play the mandolin!  It is a fabulously versatile instrument, and is relatively easy to learn.

There's a popular saying among mandolin players: "life's too short to play a cheap mandolin."  As a beginner, you won't want to spend too much, of course, but it's definitely worth spending enough to get a real instrument rather than a toy.  My first mandolin was a Tanglewood which cost about £160.  It made a pleasing sound and had decent intonation.  Before  that, I did initially buy an Ozark mandolin for about £70, but it was pretty much unplayable and sounded like a toy - I returned it to the shop.

I can't overstate how important it is to buy a mandolin that will produce a decent tone - it is really motivating!  W…

Lesson Observation

I observed the class of an experienced colleague today, at the invitation of my colleague.  He is very pleased with the way the class is getting on, and wanted me to come in and give the class a boost.

It was fascinating, as always, to observe a lesson, and I was indeed very impressed by how engaged and enthusiastic the youngsters were.

After the lesson, I recalled how, as a probationer, I was frustrated by the fact that some teachers seemed to have excellent behaviour in their classes effortlessly, whilst I had to work hard managing behaviour.

18 years later, I know that the effortlessness I thought I saw was just an illusion.  Experienced teachers are constantly managing the behaviour of their classes - principally by planning interesting, appropriately challenging lessons and by maintaining positive warm relationships with their students, but also by nudging youngsters towards positive behaviour and away from misbehaviour during lessons by the subtle use of body language, tone of voic…