Instructor:   Michael Hepher


Instructor:   Michael Hepher

Course Description:

Level: 2 – 3  (see Playing Experience Level descriptions at the bottom of the page)

Level Up Mando: Plunky to Funky

The mandolin is a funny little instrument that can sound a bit thin on its own, but with a little practice can add so much to any musical style.

First we are going to focus on adding richness and depth to our playing by looking at picking-hand techniques for good tone, alternate chord shapes (like movable chords, double stops, chop chords) and strumming techniques to fill in the sonic gaps.

Next we are going to look at improvising on the mandolin with some different ways of looking at the fingerboard (that don’t include memorizing notes) that will help you hear breaks, and then play them, no matter what song comes up at a jam.

We’ll use some familiar tunes and some new ones to reinforce these ideas, and we’ll play some nifty mando games to get us all listening and picking a little better than when we walked in.

Mandos of the world unite!

Michael Hepher

Michael cut his musical teeth on Tom Petty’s album Full Moon Fever in the early 90s, terrorizing his family with energetic renditions of  Free Fallin’ for hours at a stretch. Since then music has wound a solid cord through his life with numerous stage and studio credits including mando pickin’ with the Craig Young Band, notable Kootenay folkies  As The Crow Flies and roots-grassers  Redgirl . Recently his duo The Doggone Brothers, with banjoist/guitarist Clayton Parson (The Parsons, The Good Ol’ Goats) has been gaining momentum with appearances at Shady Grove Bluegrass Festival (2021) and Northern Lights Bluegrass Festival (2022). Their old-timey sound and entertaining stage show is full of musical surprises, unexpected banter, and soaring harmonies.

More than anything, though, Michael loves pickin’ tunes with people and lives for the magical moments of music and connection that arise unexpectedly in the middle of impromptu jams. >Mike lives in Fernie, BC. with his partner Anie, their kids Finn & Theo, and a dog named Banjo.

WebsiteRedgirl / Doggone Brothers

Playing Experience Levels

These guidelines aim to ensure that all camp participants have an enjoyable experience. They represent what your playing capability should be before you take the class (prerequisites).

Classes are generally designed to pace themselves to match the participants' abilities. Level 1 classes aim to proceed at the pace of the slower students in the class. Level 2 and 3 classes aim to move at the pace of the majority of students in the class. Level 4 classes are designed to push the capabilities of all students and will target the pace of the more capable students  Class descriptions that show a range (Levels 2-3) means the material presented is broadly applicable across that range.

LEVEL 1: You are new or relatively new to your instrument. You may be able to play basic chords or scales slowly. You want to learn the basics of the instrument. You have very little experience playing with others.

LEVEL 2: You are competent with basic chords and/or basic scales. You can keep rhythm and/or play basic melodies and/or sing and play at the same time if the song is familiar. You generally need the chords or melody to be written out in order to play along. You have some experience playing with others.

LEVEL 3: You are reasonably comfortable with most chords, basic major and minor scales, and can play at an appropriate tempo for songs. You are aware of time signatures, song keys, and know that there are chords called 6th, 7th, 11th, etc even if you can’t play them all. You are comfortable maintaining good rhythm and are willing to taking breaks while jamming with others, even if the breaks don't always turn out the way you planned. You may be hoping to take your playing up to the next level of performing with a group or band (beyond jamming) and you want to further improve your technique and speed.

LEVEL 4: You are skilled on your instrument and have a good understanding of musical concepts including scales, arrangements, harmonies and some improvisation. You play lead and back-up with a steady rhythm and can play skillfully with others. You know there is life further up the neck on your instrument and have some capability in that world. You have performing experience, can hold a tune, and can harmonize.