Called “a perfect musician” by jazz guitar legend, Bucky Pizzarelli, Aaron Weinstein “is rapidly establishing himself as one of his instrument’s rare jazz masters.” (Don Heckman, International Review of Music). Aaron is a respected violinist and mandolinist, widely regarded as one of the mandolin’s leading exponents in the jazz idiom, and author of the jazz mandolin book Mandolin Chord Melody System (Mel Bay Publications).
As a featured soloist, Aaron has performed at Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, Jazz at Lincoln Center, Birdland, Blue Note, as well as at jazz festivals in England, France, Iceland, Israel, and Switzerland. He has performed and recorded with an array of jazz icons including Les Paul, Bucky Pizzarelli, John Pizzarelli, Dick Hyman, Dave Frishberg, Jon Hendricks, and Annie Ross, as well as musicians as varied as New York Pops conductor Skitch Henderson and rock guitarist Jay Geils. He has written arrangements for vocalists such as Christine Ebersole, Linda Lavin, and the Manhattan Transfer’s Janis Siegel. Aaron is a recipient of both the New York City Bistro and New York City Nightlife Awards.
With the release of his Arbors Records debut, A Handful of Stars (heralded as “the rebirth of the hot jazz violin” by Nat Hentoff of the Wall Street Journal), Aaron became the youngest jazz musician to record for the prestigious label. He is a graduate of the Berklee College of Music, where he was awarded a full four-year talent-based scholarship.
Politically, Aaron is a bow-tie rights activist. He is also lactose intolerant but can find at least one agreeable item on any restaurant menu, a feat he’s called, “my greatest talent.” Aaron lives in New York City.
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Chord Melody Mandolin Lessons
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A step-by-step approach to mastering chord melody mandolin
New lessons and tunes added every month
Detailed tab/notation and chord charts
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Exploring Chord Melody on the Mandolin Aaron talks about how his chord melody style on the mandolin developed by studying with Don Stiernberg (a protégé of the great jazz mandolinist Jethro Burns), listening to records of early jazz guitarists like Carl Kress and Eddie Lang, and performing with guitarists Frank Vignola, Bucky Pizzarelli, and others. He demonstrates some of the things he learned from their playing and ends by improvising on the jazz standard “Tangerine.”
Aaron’s Mandolin and Gear Aaron talks a bit about the instrument and gear he uses, including his Red Diamond F-style mandolin, Elixir medium-gauge mandolin strings, Shure KSM 137 mic, and Pick Boy 100 flatpicks.
Active Listening Aaron talks about the importance of active listening in learning to play any kind of music. He differentiates between passive listening (while you’re making dinner, driving to work, etc.) and active listening, where all you’re doing is listening. He recommends that you make listening part of your practice routine, and that when you listen to something, you think about what you like about the music and what you don’t like.
CHORD MELODY BASICS
Chord Melody Basics, Part 1: Chord Voicings It’s not necessary to know hundreds of chord voicings to play chord melody mandolin. If you know a few core voicings, you can use those along with melody notes, to create satisfying voicings that fit the song you’re playing. In these introductory videos, Aaron takes two basic chords (Dm and G7) and shows you how to expand them to create a few couple simple chord melodies.
Chord Melody Basics, Part 2: Picking-Hand Technique Your fretting hand determines the notes you’re playing but your picking hand determines how those notes (and chords) are articulated. Aaron shows you how to create different sounds with the two progressions you learned in Part 1 by separating the chord and melody notes in different rhythmic ways, for example, playing the melody note before the full chord, or the bass note before the full chord. He also demonstrates how you can combine these approaches to give your chord melody performance some rhythmic variety.
CHORD MELODY SONGS
DEED I DO
Deed I Do, Part 1 The first chord melody arrangement you’ll learn is the 1920s jazz standard “Deed I Do.” It’s in the key of C and follows the standard 32-bar AABA form. Aaron walks you through his arrangement, phrase by phrase, explaining some of his arrangement and voicing choices and how he’s combined melody notes with the basic voicings you already learned. You’ll learn the first two A sections in this video, the second of which starts the same as the first but ends differently: Aaron uses different voicings and substitutions for the last four bars.
Deed I Do, Part 2 Aaron takes more of a single-note approach to the bridge of “Deed I Do,” punctuating the melody with just a few chords. He takes you through it phrase by phrase also shows you his last A section, which is similar to the first, with just a few variations.
Deed I Do, Part 3: Play-Along Track Use this video to play along with Aaron as he plays his chord melody arrangement of “Deed I Do” at a slow tempo.
FINE AND DANDY
Fine and Dandy In his arrangement of the jazz standard “Fine and Dandy” Aaron looks at how to exploit bass-note movement in chord voicings. He starts by talking about how to decide the right register to choose for a chord melody arrangement of a song. Then he walks you through the song phrase by phrase, explaining some of his chord-melody arrangement ideas as he goes.
“Fine and Dandy” Play-Along Track Use this video to play along with Aaron as he plays his chord melody arrangement of “Fine and Dandy” at a slow tempo.
I GOT RHYTHM
I Got Rhythm, Part 1 “I Got Rhythm” is one of the most popular jazz standards in the jazz canon, and its chord progression has been used as the basis for many other tunes. Aaron’s arrangement takes a “big band” approach, combining chordal hits with the melody. “I Got Rhythm” is in AABA form, so the second A is the same as the first, but Aaron gives you a variation of the chordal hits for the second A part. He walks you through both A parts of his “I Got Rhythm” arrangement in this video.
I Got Rhythm, Part 2 The bridge of Aaron’s arrangement of “I Got Rhythm” takes a more traditional chord melody approach, and the last A part is similar to the first two A’s but with a two-bar tag. He walks you through both the bridge and the last A in this video.
I Got Rhythm, Part 3: A Part Variation Aaron gives you a different way to approach the A section of “I Got Rhythm” in this video. In this variation, he plays the hits as single notes and the melody in chords. He also gives you ideas on articulating the chords in different ways.
“I Got Rhythm” Play-Along Track Use this video to play along with Aaron as he plays his chord melody arrangement of “I Got Rhythm” at a slow tempo.
Comes Love, Part 1 Aaron’s chord melody arrangement of the jazz standard “Comes Love” is similar to that of “I Got Rhythm” in that he inserts chordal hits into the melody, rather than playing a chord for every melody note, and he takes a more traditional chord melody approach on the bridge. He begins by showing you his intro vamp to “Comes Love” and then walks you through the arrangement. You’ll learn the intro and first A part in this video.
Comes Love, Part 2 For the second A of “Comes Love” Aaron keeps the basic arrangement of the first A but changes a few of the voicings. He also ends it with a single-note line that leads into the bridge. In the bridge, Aaron uses some different kinds of right-hand articulations and a bass-note line to move to the F7 chord in the middle of the bridge. For the last A, Aaron plays the same thing as the second A and then adds an outro that echoes the intro.
“Comes Love” Play-Along Track Use this video to play along with Aaron as he plays his chord melody arrangement of “Comes Love” at a slow tempo.
VOICING CHOICES In this lesson, Aaron shows you some of the things he thinks about when making choices about which voicings to use with a given melody. He uses “Deed I Do” to demonstrate some of the decisions he makes when arranging a song: the register of the melody and where it sits on the mandolin, which notes you want to add chord tones to and which you don’t, etc. Aaron walks you through each phrase of the first eight bars of “Deed I Do,” giving you multiple examples of some of the voicing choices you can make for each phrase.
ALMOST LIKE BEING IN LOVE
Almost Like Being in Love, Part 1 Aaron plays the jazz standard “Almost Like Being in Love” as a rubato ballad, which is a great way to let the voicings you’re playing ring out and exploit the bass movement of the chords. He walks you through the melody and chord voicings, showing you how he articulates them in different ways, often by emphasizing the bass notes.
Almost Like Being in Love, Part 2 You’ll learn the bridge and last A of Aaron’s arrangement of “Almost Like Being in Love” in this video. The last A can also be thought of as a separate part or C section, because there’s a tag that makes it 12 measures long instead of eight.
“Almost Like Being in Love” Play-Along Track Use this video to play along with Aaron as he plays his chord melody arrangement of “Almost Like Being in Love” at a slow tempo.
LADY BE GOOD
Lady Be Good, Part 1 George Gershwin’s “Lady Be Good” is one of the most popular songs in the Great American Songbook and is also a favorite of mandolin players. Aaron’s arrangement starts with a short chordal introduction and then follows the melody with a standard chord melody arrangement, using different kinds of articulations of bass, melody, and chords.
Lady Be Good, Part 2 You’ll learn the bridge and last A part of Aaron’s arrangement of “Lady Be Good” in this video.
“Lady Be Good” Play-Along Track Use this video to play along with Aaron as he plays his chord melody arrangement of “Lady Be Good” at a slow tempo.