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Mandolin - Introduction

Instructor:   Steve Goodchild

Mandolin - Introduction

Instructor:   Steve Goodchild

Course Description:

Level: 1 – 2  (see Playing Experience Level descriptions at the bottom of the page)

This class is intended for those who:

  • have never played a Mandolin before, but play another stringed instrument (Guitar, Banjo, Ukulele at least to the level of knowing and moving between basic chords);
  • already know a few chords, want to gain more skill and confidence in playing with others and want to learn the accompaniment to some new songs.

You won’t need to know how to read music. Lyric & chord sheets will be provided and by the end of the weekend students should be able to move fairly easily between chords in the keys of C, D & G; accompany songs with strumming and simple melody runs; read Mandolin chord charts and to have a repertoire of a few songs.

We will also learn about Mandolin history and family connections (Mandola, Mandocello, Mandobass and other cousins!). A selection of these close relatives will be available for participants to try their hand at some of these 8- (and more!) string variants.

A good – and enjoyable – way to become a better player is to play with others. The class also provides an opportunity to play with like-minded folks in a comfortable, supportive setting where we can listen to and learn from each other in:

  • playing and singing (and harmonizing) in a band
  • how to arrange songs, interact and support each other
  • how and when to solo and to “make space” for soloing

Don’t forget to bring your smiles, enthusiasm and sense of humour!

Steve Goodchild

Steve is a substantially self-taught (“lots of short-cuts and bad habits!”) multi-instrumentalist, singer-songwriter who got his first 6-string at the age of eleven and had his first professional gig shortly before turning sixteen in 1974, playing Guitar and Mandolin with the English Folk group “Cuckoo’s Nest”.  

With a day job that has subsidised a bad case of G.A.S. (Guitar Acquisition Syndrome!) he has been fortunate enough to travel extensively and play in diverse settings from Country Folk with “Just Five” – a 1980s “institution” in Mombasa, Kenya; Country Rock and full-on Rock ‘n Roll with “Rocky Roads” in Sarawak, East Malaysia; regular Folk and Acoustic settings in the UK (with “The Volunteers”, “Full House” and Graham Bellinger & “Root Chords”), Netherlands and Denmark; and Americana and Bluegrass with trio “Across the Water” in Houston, Texas.  

Since moving to Calgary in late 2010, Steve has performed solo; with son Christopher in coffee houses and most recently at the Rocky Mountain Folk Club; and with “Horizon Ridge”, featuring fellow FAMI alumni Dianne Quinton and Peter May along with his wife Helen. He also plays in a trio with Calgary singer/songstress Christie Simmons and as an instrument & harmony vocals sideman with Canmore-based recording artist, Cori Brewster – both also sometime fellow FAMI instructors.  

Currently counting 6, 9, 12-string, bass, tenor & baritone guitars, dobro, mandolin, mandola & mandocello, bouzouki, cittern, banjo and Appalachian dulcimer in his musical armoury, this jack-of-all strings (and master of none!) has a repertoire encompassing styles ranging from British and American Folk Tradition; contemporary singer-songwriter; country & bluegrass; folk & gospel acapella and good old rock ‘n roll, as well as his own compositions. He has recorded five CDs with Across the Water; a solo album - “Nooks and Crannies” - featuring all his own compositions, and a recent recording with Horizon Ridge – “Enough is all you need”.  

Steve lives on Calgary’s west side and is the Artistic Director of the Rocky Mountain Folk Club. 

WebsiteHorizon Ridge

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.