Tips For Learning Tunes:

Listen ... Find tunes you enjoy ... Play with others ... Practice ... Play regularly ...

  • Bring a notebook to music sessions to keep a list of tunes to learn
    • Ask the name of tunes you like
    • Make note of name & key (with any special keychanges)
    • Notate/tab the notes/licks you do figure out (the reason I learned tab)
    • Create Tune Hints book: key, chords & few meaures of each Part

  • Listen to (over & over) different versions of the tune
    • CDs/Recordings/On-line music samples
    • Music transcriptions (music books, on-line sources)
    • Ask players for their OK to discreetly record tunes in jams/sessions
    • Whistle/Hum the tune regularly during the day/night

  • Play along with a recording
    • Play the tune everyday, coming back to it often
    • Play the notes you find, fill in the next ones as you find them
    • Play chords along with recording
    • Use slow-down software to play-back tune at slower tempo
    • Play along, at your speed, with real-time notation/tab & MIDI

  • Watch left-hand fingering of another mandolin (or fiddle) player
    • Play the notes you find, filling in the spaces as you learn new notes

  • Learn chords to play rhythm backup, while learning the melody
    • Watch guitar players to see chords and key changes
    • Ask someone to call the chord progressions first time through tune

  • Make a list of the tunes you know & practice them regularly


  • Practice training your ear to hear what you play & play what you hear
    • Hum/sing along, in unison, with the tune while you're playing, to stengthen the hand-ear connection
    • Train ears to hear & recognize intervals (I, ii, iii, IV, V, vi, VII, Octave)

  • Ask someone to teach you the tune


  • Practice playing the tune: pick it apart - put it together - play it again!


  • Play the tune often!

Keepin' tuned ...
Wendy Anthony