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Laurie Niles

July 30, 2003 at 8:59 PM

A few months ago I got myself a mandolin -- something to play just for fun.

I have a different relationship with my mandolin than I have with my violin. My violin has been my lifelong companion, burden, joy...My initial excitement with it has mellowed over 25 years into an abiding friendship, with mutual respect. My technique has been hard-won. I know better than to grab my fiddle by the neck and plow into my favorite tune. We warm up with scales, without fail, and proceed thoughtfully, with care, until we're going full steam.

But my mandolin is new, and despite what I know about technique-building, I just wanna play, man! I don't want to practice picking on open strings. I don't want to figure out chords, watch my fingers so they land just behind the frets (frets? whatever for?), sit up straight while I'm playing, learn a piece of music note-by-note. I wanna strum! Play in a band! Play the blues! Jam!

It can't be that hard. I play the violin after all. Now *that's* hard. The hardest instrument there is, right? Harder than the mandolin, right? Right?

Wrong!

Now, where to begin? How about with pick technique...open E's and A's...

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