Bruce Bernhart Mandolin Websites

Bruce Bernhart Mandolin Lessons

Original articles plus the "best of the web" by mandolin enthusiast/teacher Bruce Bernhart

In Minnesota, Bruce Bernhart has been a mandolin player/enthusiast since the 1980's

Bruce Bernhart Mandolin Websites

Updated May 26, 2013

Beginning Mandolin Lessons

New! Tabs for Popular Fiddle Tunes:
"Denver Belle"
"The Road Home"

The Bernhart Mandolin Webpages explore the history of the mandolin, buying and building mandolins, the various makes and models of mandolins available on the market, basic chord structures, different styles of playing, practice exercises, tabs, and performance.
Look for additional Bruce Bernhart mandolin websites to come

Bernhart Mandolin Websites

Bernhart Mandolin Websites
Updated May 26, 2013
Bruce Bernhart's Mandolin Lessons One and Two             

-A Brief Background on the Mandolin:

Mandolins have a long history, and much early music was written for them. In the first half of the 20th century, they enjoyed a period of great popularity in Europe and the Americas as an easier approach to playing string music. Many professional and amateur mandolin groups and orchestras were formed to play light classical string repertory.  Just as this practice was falling into disuse, the mandolin found a new niche in American county, old-time music, bluegrass, and folk music.  More recently, the Baroque and classical mandolin repertory and styles have benefited from the raised awareness of and interest in early music. Tremolo and fingerpicking methods are used while playing a mandolin.

#1-- Know how to tune the mandolin- E-A-D-G, high string to low string.
  • Tuning is often done with the A strings first especially in sessions. Each of the other courses can be tuned up or down to get them in pitch.
  • Get a reliable 'A' from other instruments and tune the second strings to it. Often necessary to tune to the fixed pitch instruments such as the reeds (accordian, melodeon or concertina)
  • Hold the second strings down on the 7th fret, and they sound an E. Adjust the first strings until they sounds the same.
  • Hold the third strings down on the 7th fret, and they sound an A. Adjust the third strings until they sound the same as the second.
  • Hold the fourth strings down on the 7th fret, and they sound an D. Adjust the fourth strings until they sound the same as the third.
  • It is often easier to tune one string of a course, and then tune the other one to it.

Alternatively, buy an electronic tuner and tune each string using the indicator on the tuner. This is best done in a quiet envionment unless you have a pick-up on the mandolin or a clip on mic which you can plug into the tuner.

Bernhart's Tips:
  • Deaden the other course and remaining strings as you tune with an electronic tuner since the ringing of the other strings sometimes confuses it.
  • Tune frequently (before you start to play each session).
  • When you tune, if you take the string too sharp, tune flat again and tune up to the note. (Tuning down has a tendency for it to slip flat a little further as you play.)
  • Change the strings regularly, and change them in sets.
Be sure you are holding the pick correctly with your right hand, between thumb and index finger, resting on last joint of your finger with pick point pointed toward the strings.  You do not want to hold the pick in such a way that it is extending out from the tip of your finger.
Are you "cradling the neck" with your left hand?  Rest it between thumb and index finger.
Practice fingering your G chord and your A chord.  See charts in lesson book.   Remember- no dead notes!

Student exercises:

#2-- Whole steps and half steps, sharps and flats.
Know your notes:  Fifth fret- A/D/G/C
Know:  A whole step up is two frets, and a half step up is one fret
Know:  Sharps are one fret higher and flats are one fret lower
Scale is repeated at the 12th fret.
Know your notes:  Third fret, high to low:  G-C-F-Bb.  Fifth fret, high to low:  A-D-G-C.  Seventh Fret, high to low:  B-E-A-D.

Know the the C major scale and learn these notes on the mandoin:

Here is what a one-octave ‘C’ major scale looks like on a piano keyboard (notes in red):

A note on  harmony

Wikpedia describes harmony as the study of vertical sonorities in music.  Vertical sonority refers to considering the relationships between pitches that occur together; usually this means at the same time, although harmony can also be implied by a melody that outlines a harmonic structure.

Watch for more websites on scales and chord construction!

Thank you for visiting the Bruce Bernhart Mandolin Websites!

Bruce Bernhart Mandolin Websites

Be sure to visit the other Bruce Bernhart Mandolin Websites:

Bruce Bernhart mandolin rock tabs

Bruce Bernhart mandolin lessons- common scales

Bruce Bernhart on buying and setting up your new mandolin

Bruce Bernhart mandolin lessons- tuning

Bruce Bernhart mandolin lessons- chord patterns

Bruce Bernhart on mandolin history and basic chord structures

Bruce Bernhart on string and saddle adjustment

Bruce Bernhart more tuning tips and whole/half steps

Bruce Bernhart on more chord patterns

Bruce Bernhart on the mandolin family

Bruce Bernhart on mandolin bluegrass chords and patterns

Bruce Bernhart on temperature considerations

Bruce Bernhart lessson on mandolin flats and sharps

Bruce Bernhart lesson on scales, circle of 5ths and meter

Bruce Bernhart on triads, gears

Bruce Bernhart mandolin chord diagrams

Bruce Bernhart on modern emergence of the mandolin

Bruce Bernhart on simple chords

Bruce Bernhart on whole and half-note steps on the mandolin

Bruce Bernhart mandolin practice excercises

Bruce Bernhart on playing waltzes

Bruce Bernhart on majors, minors and sevenths

Bruce Bernhart Mandolin Lessons

 Be sure to also check out the Bruce Bernhart RV Websites:

Solar power for your RV

The care and feeding of your RV battery

The sport of "geocaching" and RV refrigeration basics

The basics of RV power inversion

RV travel tips and tire care

Advanced discussion on power inversion

Tips on buying a house battery and cold weather maintenance

RV Insurance basics

Buying the right generator for your RV and portable power

RV television reception options

Care and maintenance of the RV air conditioner

Top RV destinations

RV long-term supplies and weight considerations

RV Insurance- Road protection and bodily injury coverage

RV battery types and winter charging considerations

Deep cycle battery basics

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