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Bluegrass Mandolin Fingerboard Method
with Sharon Gilchrist
 
 
About This Course
 
Learn to play solos to any bluegrass song in any key with Sharon's intermediate-level method for learning the fingerboard, based on arpeggios, chop-chord shapes, and double stops.
 
 
Meet the Instructor
Sharon Gilchrist
 
 
Sharon Gilchrist has long made her home in the American acoustic music scene. Whether she’s playing mandolin, thumpin’ the upright bass, singing a traditional ballad, or performing one of her original pieces, her music is steeped in traditional Appalachian sounds, delivered with a distinct spacious, graceful, and fiery style all her own. Sharon has performed with Darol Anger, Peter Rowan and Tony Rice Quartet, Uncle Earl, Laurie Lewis and the Right Hands, the Kathy Kallick Band, and many others. She is also a respected mandolin teacher and has taught at music camps throughout the US.
 
 
 
Peghead Play-Along Tracks
 
Peghead Nation is creating a library of accompaniment videos (and downloadable MP3s) for songs and tunes that are taught on the site, classics that you'll find at many jams and picking parties. As a subscriber, you have access to this library and can use the tracks to practice playing tunes and songs at a slow or medium tempo with guitar accompaniment. New songs will be added regularly.
 
 
The Bluegrass Mandolin Fingerboard Method Subscription Includes:
  • An easy to learn method for learning the fingerboard so you can play in any key
  • Melody-based solos for popular bluegrass songs
  • New lessons added every month
  • Extensive right- and left-hand technique lessons
  • Notation and tab provided for all lessons
  • High-quality video with multiple camera angles so you can see close-ups of both hands in action
  • Play-Along videos so you can practice what you’ve learned
  • Downloadable audio MP3s of each tune
 
 
$20/Month For One Course
 
Additional courses only $10/month each!   •   Save 20% with an annual subscription
 
 
Get started now!
Use promo code SharonLand at checkout
and get your first month free or $20 off an annual subscription.
 
Bluegrass Mandolin Fingerboard Method Course Outline
 
INTRO TO THE BLUEGRASS MANDOLIN FINGERBOARD METHOD
 
Sharon talks about the basic concept of her Bluegrass Mandolin Fingerboard Method, which teaches intermediate bluegrass mandolin players how to walk into jam sessions and play solos to any bluegrass song in any key. The method uses shapes and patterns that you may already be familiar with, but Sharon shows you how to use those patterns (chords, scales, and double stops) in different places on the neck and construct melody-based solos from them. She starts by explaining “the L shape,” a concept Sharon got from mandolinist John Moore that gives visual representation to the roots of the I, IV, and V chords on the fingerboard.
 
BLUEGRASS SONGS
 
After learning the basics of playing arpeggios, scales and double stops using the L shape, it’s time to put the concept to use on some songs.
 
I’ll Fly Away

Learn to play a solo on the bluegrass/folk/gospel standard “I’ll Fly Away” in the key of D. Sharon gives you advice on finding the melody of the song you want to build a solo for, and shows you the basic melody and chords of the verse and chorus of “I’ll Fly Away.” Then she shows you how to harmonize the melody with double stops, using the “short” and “long” double stops you’ve already learned. She also shows you a couple of simple “kickoffs,” one for the verse and one for the chorus.

 

Nine Pound Hammer

The song “Nine Pound Hammer” is one of the most popular bluegrass jam songs, and is played in a few different keys. The version you’ll learn here is in the key of D, so Sharon starts by reminding you of the L shapes, arpeggio patterns, and double stops in the key of D. Then she walks you through the melody and chords of the verse and chorus of “Nine Pound Hammer”and shows you how to add double stops to the basic melody. She also shows you a typical Bill Monroe ending lick and gives you advice on practicing the solo in different keys.

 

I’m on My Way Back to the Old Home

“I’m on My Way Back to the Old Home” is a bluegrass standard, written by Bill Monroe. You’ll learn the melody and a basic double-stop solo in the key of D. Before showing you the melody, Sharon reminds you of the “L shape” in the key of D and arpeggios for D, G, and A. Then she shows you how to create a simple solo to “I’m on My Way Back to the Old Home” with a kickoff and double stops.

 

Will the Circle Be Unbroken

“Will the Circle Be Unbroken” comes from the Carter Family and is one of the most well-known bluegrass and old-time country songs. As with the last couple of lessons, you’ll learn to create a melody-based solo to “Will the Circle Be Unbroken” in the key of D using the L shapes, arpeggios, and double stops.

 

Long Journey Home

The bluegrass standard “Long Journey Home” comes from the Monroe Brothers: Bill Monroe and his brother Charlie, and was recorded by them in 1936. You’ll learn it here in the key of G using the same shapes you’ve been using in the key of D, but over a string. Sharon explains how to move everything you’ve learned so far to the key of G, showing you where the roots, arpeggios, and double stops are. After showing you  the chords and basic melody of “Long Journey Home,” she walks you through a double-stop solo.

 

On and On

Bill Monroe recorded the song “On and On,” which has become a bluegrass standard, in the key of A, so that’s where you’ll learn it, using the L shapes, arpeggios, and double stops you’ve used for the keys of G and D. It is, of course, common to play solos in open position in the key of A, but it’s good to know the up-the-neck shapes in A (with your index finger at the seventh fret) so you can easily move between the two positions. Before showing you the basic melody of “On and On” Sharon shows you the L shapes and arpeggios in the key of A. Then she shows you how to harmonize the melody of “On and On” with double stops, giving you a few ideas about alternate rhythms in your phrasing.

 

Bury Me Beneath the Willow

Sharon uses the bluegrass standard “Bury Me Beneath the Willow” to show you how to move out of the basic closed-position fingerings you’ve been learning to other nearby positions. After showing you the basic melody of “Bury Me Beneath the Willow,” Sharon shows you how to harmonize the melody with double stops, some melodic embellishments, and a typical Bill Monroe ending lick.

 

In the Pines

Sharon uses the folk and bluegrass standard “In the Pines” to show you another common way to move out of the closed-position L-shape fingerings you’ve been learning. “In the Pines” is in waltz time (3/4) and you’ll learn it in the key of D. After walking you through the melody and showing you how it relates to the chord progression, Sharon shows you how to harmonize the melody of “In the Pines” with double stops and some melodic embellishments, showing you where you can move out of the L shape to a nearby double stop. She also gives you ideas for starting to improvise and create variations on the solo.

 

Your Love Is Like a Flower

Sharon revisits the two extensions you’ve learned (places you can move out of the basic closed position fingering), using the Flatt and Scruggs song “Your Love Is Like a Flower.” In addition to showing you how to harmonize the melody of “Your Love Is Like a Flower” with double stops, Sharon shows you how to vary the basic double-stop solo solo with melodic embellishments, rhythmic variations, sliding double stops, Monroe licks, and more.

 

Sitting on Top of the World

In this lesson, you’ll learn a solo to the bluegrass classic “Sitting on Top of the World” in the key of B, which is not an unusual key for bluegrass bands. Sharon starts by showing you which open strings can be used in the key of B and the closed-position L shapes, scales, double stops, and arpeggio patterns in the key of B. Then she shows you the basic melody and chords of “Sitting on Top of the World,” how to harmonize the melody of with double stops, and how to vary the basic double-stop solo solo for “Sitting on Top of the World” with melodic variations, seventh chord double stops, Monroe licks, and more.

 

Banks of the Ohio

Learn a solo to the folk and bluegrass classic “Banks of the Ohio” that was played by Ricky Skaggs on Tony Rice’s first Rounder record. The solo is in the key of F, so Sharon starts by going over the closed-position L-shapes, double stops, and arpeggios in the key of F. Then she shows you the basic melody and chord progression, before walking you through Ricky Skaggs’s solo, which is based out of the same closed positions you’re been learning but introduces a few new things, including a new double-stop extension and tremolo based on triplets.

 

Dark Hollow

The bluegrass classic “Dark Hollow” is often played in the key of C, so that’s where you’ll learn it. Sharon starts by going over the closed-position L-shapes, arpeggio patterns, and double stops in the key of C as well as a closed-position C major scale. After walking you through the melody of “Dark Hollow,” pointing out the relationship between the notes of the melody and the chords that are accompanying it, Sharon shows you how to dress up the melody by using double stops and creating licks out of double stop shapes.

 

The Last Thing on My Mind

“The Last Thing on My Mind” is a folk song written by Tom Paxton, but became a bluegrass standard after recordings by Doc Watson, Tony Rice, and others. Sharon often played it with Tony in the Rowan/Rice Quartet. In this lesson, you’ll learn to play solos on the verse and chorus of “The Last Thing on My Mind” in the key of D.

 

Big Spike Hammer

The Osborne Brothers classic “Big Spike Hammer” uses the “six minor chord,” often noted as a vi chord, and Sharon uses it to show you how the vi is related to the I and IV. You’ll learn the arpeggios and double stops of the iv chord in the key of B and a solo to “Big Spike Hammer” in B.

 

 

Down in the Willow Garden

“Down in the Willow Garden” is a traditional folk ballad that has long been a part of the bluegrass repertoire. This lesson builds on the patterning for the vi chord (in this case, Am in the key of C) and how it relates to the I, IV, and V chord positions.

 

“Keep on the Sunny Side” Verse - New Lesson

Sharon uses the folk and bluegrass classic “Keep on the Sunny Side” to show you a new double stop and a series of double stops that occur in many songs. You’ll learn to play a solo in double stops on the verse of “Keep on the Sunny Side” in this lesson, which will be followed by the chorus in the next lesson.

 

 

 
 
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