Hello all,

I thought this subforum was the best place for this discussion.

I have an interview this Monday for an after school music club. At this time there are 6 students, all girls between 12-16, there are 2 guitars, 3 ukuleles, and 1 mandolin player. I do not know the skill level, but I am assuming/hoping they're all less than advanced.

I have many years of guitar, I know all the notes on the fretboard, can build any chord, and I am now immersing myself in modes.

I've had 1 student before, but he was my age 28 and it was very casual we had about 15 hour long lessons over 3-4 months. This will be more "official" I think.

I will know more after the interview, but I was hoping that there were some teachers in the midst here that could give me some tips on teaching and leading an ensemble.

Thanks in advance everyone.
"Hey kid. You wanna cigarette?"

"No thanks! I/m already hooked on Fonicks!"

Just to check: even if you know how to form chords on guitar, do you know how to do it on a uke or a mandolin? They're different instruments at the end of the day. Mandolin especially has it's own technique, repertoire and feel, and I don't think that the ability to play guitar necessarily makes you qualified to teach mando.

Other than that, even if you teach a group take special care in order to make sure everyone gets the attention they deserve; you can't teach six people and three different instruments all the same way at the same time, so I think you should be prepared to take each student and their instruments into account.
Quote by Jet Penguin
Theory: Not rules, just tools.

Quote by Hail
*note that by fan i mean that guy who wants his friends to know he knows this totally obscure hip band that only he knows about with 236 views on youtube. lookin' at Kev here
Thank you Kevatuhri.

I have had a Mandolin for years, bit didn't get far on it (it was handmade and had very high action, I sold it about a year ago). That is the part I am most concerned about.

I just got a ukulele a month ago and I am picking it up much faster. I am currently cramming in all ukulele knowledge I can find and studying strumming/fingerprinting techniques, chord shapes and progressions, it's going well.

Do you play mandolin or have advice about it?
"Hey kid. You wanna cigarette?"

"No thanks! I/m already hooked on Fonicks!"

A mandolin is closer to a violin in terms of tuning and chord shapes. There might have to be some adjustment in technique to adapt to the stiff double strings as well.

Thank you Neo.

I am more or less seeking advice on how to deal with a group of students, having had no experience there.
I know about strumming techniques and notes, the only piece I am really missing (I think) is auto-knowledge of chords on the Mandolin. I can certainly teach the young lady some theory and different approaches on the instrument.
"Hey kid. You wanna cigarette?"

"No thanks! I/m already hooked on Fonicks!"

I don't think "auto-knowledge" is going to come without actually sitting down and practicing on said instrument. If it helps, the chord shapes could resemble those on the lowest 4 strings on a guitar/bass except reversed and in a higher octave.

This seems to be good for beginner levels:

Perhaps looking into songs in different genres might help:

It might be a good idea to think about ways to let them collaborate and have a list of possible materials to play based on what they could be interested in. Stressing rhythm should probably be one of the first priorities; if they can't keep time, they won't keep time with each other.

First club meeting could be a bit more informal, about me, what do you want from this club, etc.

As a note of personal development, knowing notes regardless of fretboard will be useful, as is translating a chord to various instruments, and you might need to tune six instruments until they get the hang of it.

Not sure where you're going with "some theory and different approaches on the instrument"
Thanks a bunch!

Yes I don't know Mandolin chords, only practice will grant that knowledge.

However I can teach her general theory, how it may apply to her instrument, and different ways to play a part (inversions and different voicings, phrasing and melody)

Club head said they pick their own songs, so that will be taken care of for me. If they choose a difficult piece I may have to rearrange the parts for them to make it realistically achievable.

Will know more tomorrow. Thanks again
"Hey kid. You wanna cigarette?"

"No thanks! I/m already hooked on Fonicks!"

don't worry about trying to teach them theory. get them to execute the songs properly, and fill in the blanks only as necessary to improve their performance of that specific piece. theory is absolutely bunk, and arguably even a detriment, when you don't have the muscle memory and skills to back it up.

additionally, it's hard to give students small victories in teaching scales, keys, etc. compared to them being able to say "i can play 60 measures of this song that was really hard for me, and no matter what, no one can take away that i can play these 60 measures"

obviously if they're just starting and don't know chord shapes, you'll need to teach them chords - but only the ones they need to play at a given time. don't turn it into a lecture. kids already have enough brain strain, having to do 6+ hours of active learning every day on top of homework, so your goal is to give them small victories, help them enjoy their instrument, and give them just enough tools at a time to prevent them from hitting a brick wall.

they can learn chord charts just like you - they have google for that. you should act as a craftsman helping apprentices. imagine you're teaching a kid how to blacksmith, for whatever reason. do you teach them the melting point of every type of metal, or do you just let them bang on the anvil and nudge them in the right direction until they get it right?

another thing i would recommend, as a writing instructor, is to get them to keep a practice journal. after they practice, have them write about what they're happy about, what they're uncomfortable with, what they can improve on, and where they might need help understanding. this encourages metacognition and will get them to think critically from a distance rather than only thinking about playing while they're actually playing.
modes are a social construct
Last edited by Hail at Sep 24, 2017,