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Saturday February 9th 2002

Intermediate Mandolin Workshop

This workshop was fantastic - for me if for nobody else! Everyone who attended seemed to get a lot out of it and almost all of them said afterwards that what they wanted was "More!" So it looks like I'll be putting on these one-day workshops two or three times a year. We had twenty people there (I had originally put a limit of eighteen, but a couple extra managed to wriggle in) and several more were disappointed at not getting a place. Believe me, this is a lot for Scotland!

I covered a lot over the six hours, from Warm-up Exercises, Scale Patterns, Internalising Music, Double-Stops, Decoration, Building Speed, and a lightening-fast whirl around "Up the Neck" (using "The Tennessee Waltz"). Plus a couple of sessions where I invited the participants to ask me questions; to my amazement I think I managed to answer most lines of questioning.

What I hadn't planned on exploring was pick direction, and it became obvious that several of the people there had no idea what pick direction was. One old guy played almost everything with upstrokes! So the next workshop will have a lot about pick direction - be warned I might be asking loads of advice in the months to come. :-)

At 4.00pm the other workshops from the day (button box, flute, cello) joined us and we each played a piece. The mandolins played a Scottish slow air ("The Yellow Haired Laddie") with all the decorations I'd explored and it sounded just brilliant. After much hand-shaking and gratitude I was alone, happy but exhausted.

This is the first workshop I've ever done, and of course I had been nervous about whether I could deliver. The reaction from the participants more than reassured me, and boosted my confidence to a huge degree. I want to thank everyone I've ever asked for advice, for their opinions, tips, ideas, food for thought over the years - you've made such a difference to me, helped me without even knowing. Two people in particular have shone out for me: John Bird, whose initiations of discussions has resulted in such rich dialogue, and ideas, and Niles Hokkanen, whose selfless help and guidance posts have been like nuggets of gold in amongst our rock and gravel.