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Thread: Taking up (a) Mandolin

  1. #1
    Registered User Sue Rieter's Avatar
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    Default Taking up (a) Mandolin

    I like this expression. I like rolling it around in my head and thinking about it.

    I was moving along through my life, and a mandolin happened. I took it up into my hands, and my life changed

    I like saying to people, "I took up mandolin last year." It makes me smile, it's a change for the better. It sounds simple, but it covers alot of ground.

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    Registered User Sherry Cadenhead's Avatar
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    Default Re: Taking up (a) Mandolin

    I'm with you, Sue. What an amazing instrument! I don't dare try a mandola, mandocello, etc., etc. Of course, doing so would open a whole new world of questions to ask in the Forum!

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    Registered User Lucas's Avatar
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    Default Re: Taking up (a) Mandolin

    Sue:

    I've had the same experience as you. I too took up the mandolin a year ago. My life has been enriched as a result, including finding this wonderful community of Mando Cafe forumites.

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  7. #4
    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: Taking up (a) Mandolin

    I am jealous. To experience the mandolin as new.

    I think that is part of what fuels MAS, that the new mandolin rekindles the feeling of discovering and falling in love with the mandolin that occurred at the beginning.

    But there is an amazing and to me unpredicted journey after that. It is the gradual transition from mandolin being something you do when there is time, at the beginning, onward towards the idea that life is something you shape to accommodate mandolinning.

    Joy awaits.. !
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  9. #5

    Default Re: Taking up (a) Mandolin

    I took up (a) mandolin also, Sue. I enjoy playing, but I don't think I will ever get past the newbie stage.

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    Default Re: Taking up (a) Mandolin

    Ummm I took up mandolin some time around 50 years ago. It wasn't love at first sound, but we had 3 guitars in the band and I thought someone should learn a different instrument. I got a mandolin and not much later a banjo. Now mandolin is my main instrument, but that has varied several times over the years with guitar first, then mandolin and banjo, then harmonica and now back to mandolin for the last 20 years. What ever the band needed I did. I like playing them all so not a big deal. Started fingerpicking guitar again and am enjoying that again, but I still play mandolin more, it has taken over m life.
    THE WORLD IS A BETTER PLACE JUST FOR YOUR SMILE!

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  13. #7
    Registered User Sue Rieter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Taking up (a) Mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by Sherry Cadenhead View Post
    I'm with you, Sue. What an amazing instrument! I don't dare try a mandola, mandocello, etc., etc. Of course, doing so would open a whole new world of questions to ask in the Forum!
    Well, Sherry, at our age we have maybe 20-25 +/- years to try them all out. I say, if you don't have to, why wait?

    Quote Originally Posted by JeffD View Post
    I am jealous. To experience the mandolin as new.

    I think that is part of what fuels MAS, that the new mandolin rekindles the feeling of discovering and falling in love with the mandolin that occurred at the beginning.

    But there is an amazing and to me unpredicted journey after that. It is the gradual transition from mandolin being something you do when there is time, at the beginning, onward towards the idea that life is something you shape to accommodate mandolinning.

    Joy awaits.. !
    Heh, it's already pretty much taken over a fair portion of my life. I think what's fueling my MAS is what I said to Sherry above. So many different musical sounds, limited time.

    Quote Originally Posted by SOMorris View Post
    I took up (a) mandolin also, Sue. I enjoy playing, but I don't think I will ever get past the newbie stage.
    Don't know if I will either, but I sure as heck am going to have fun trying!

  14. #8
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Taking up (a) Mandolin

    I found two of them, a 'teens Gibson A-1 and a B&J Victoria bowl-back (probably by Lyon & Healy) in the attic of my late grandfather's house when we were cleaning it out prior to selling. I was playing guitar, banjo and Autoharp at the time (c.1969), but when my brother John and my friend Bob joined me to play bluegrass, I got to be the mandolin player because I had the mandolin(s).

    Still have the Victoria; lotsa others came and went. Did the mandolin choose me, rather than the other way around? Did my grandfather's second wife Alice, who died when I was maybe five years old, leave them just for me to find?

    Or, just another coincidence, in a life of coincidences...
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  15. #9
    Registered User Sue Rieter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Taking up (a) Mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by allenhopkins View Post
    I found two of them, a 'teens Gibson A-1 and a B&J Victoria bowl-back (probably by Lyon & Healy) in the attic of my late grandfather's house when we were cleaning it out prior to selling. I was playing guitar, banjo and Autoharp at the time (c.1969), but when my brother John and my friend Bob joined me to play bluegrass, I got to be the mandolin player because I had the mandolin(s).

    Still have the Victoria; lotsa others came and went. Did the mandolin choose me, rather than the other way around? Did my grandfather's second wife Alice, who died when I was maybe five years old, leave them just for me to find?

    Or, just another coincidence, in a life of coincidences...
    Personally, I don't believe in coincidences

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  17. #10
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    Default Re: Taking up (a) Mandolin

    Add me to the list of those who took up mandolin in the last year. The birth of our first kid and the pandemic made me want to pick up a hobby that was much easier to go do as I knew getting out to fly fish and mountain bike was going to become far more difficult. Much easier to walk downstairs to the basement to play for awhile at night than get to a river or trailhead for half a day.

    Little did I know how much impact this instrument and the community around it would have on me. 3 mandolins later...well MAS has found me too. As my father-in-law likes to say, “life’s too short for cheap beer, bourbon, and instruments”

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  19. #11
    Professional Dreamer journeybear's Avatar
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    Default Re: Taking up (a) Mandolin

    Well, along with JeffD, Allen, and pops!, I took up mandolin a looong time ago. I'll wager, back before you were born. I was amid my teen years, and it was a bit of a fluke, a happy bit of happenstance, much in keeping with my philosophy of life concerning objets trouvés, appreciating that which somehow appears in your path.

    A couple years prior, my mom, sensing my affinity for music, gave me a guitar for my birthday. I couldn't make sense of it - six strings, four fingers - the math just didn't work. Plus it was a cheapo cheapo $20 Sears special, and the neck warped so much the strings got to be nearly an inch above the neck at the join. One day I tore the strings off it, strangled it with them, and tossed it into the attic, never to be seen again.

    Then one day, my mom came home from her new job, in the management team of a big city Goodwill, and presented me with a funny little instrument in a funny little case - a mandolin. It had just come in off a collection truck, and she snapped it up for $75. It was a Gibson plain A, pumpkin finish, late teens most likely. I'd never seen nor heard nor heard of such a thing before. It took me some time to figure out what it was. I looked it up in the Oxford Companion to Music, and in the mere two paragraphs devoted to this "instrument of minor importance," I gleaned the fact that it was tuned like a violin. That was a BIG help. I got a violin pitch pipe, tuned it right, and began to bang away on it.

    Four set of double strings was a one-to-one correspondence with my four fingers that made perfect mathematical sense. The double strings made it sound pretty all by itself. That kept me interested in it long enough to learn how to play it. I'd go into the field across the street where I wouldn't bother anybody - and no one would bother me - and slowly began to sort it out. Mel Bay's book of mandolin chords and a few song books of bands whose songs I knew - The Band, Traffic, Jethro Tull, Lovin' Spoonful, The Beatles - provided me with much musical education. (That's the time period. Long before the interweb made information sources so numerous and readily available.) Coordinating these two information streams - songs with chord notation and the chord diagrams to translate them into useful form - led me to figure out a lot of basic music theory as well as playing technique. The Band's music in particular broadened my horizons immensely. I learned it was better to find the chords that fit the song idea than to fit the song into standard chord progressions. It took me a while to realize that's what Robbie Robertson was doing, but once I did, my songwriting made a great leap forward, upward, and onward. In time, the mandolin became what I called my "reality interface." It was the means for me to produce in external, physical form the sounds and ideas that existed in internal, mental form.

    It's been a long, strange trip along a long and winding road. I've engaged in a variety of endeavors during my life, but I don't know what I would have done if I hadn't had an instrument to express my musical musings. The mandolin has provided an immeasurable amount of enjoyment, adventure, companionship, expression, and just plain fun. Nothing else to which I've applied myself has proven so rewarding. It's also been daunting, frustrating, confounding, infuriating, and exasperating, but still rewarding.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sherry Cadenhead View Post
    I don't dare try a mandola, mandocello, etc., etc.
    Oh, I have no doubt you will, someday. As well you should. But right now you've got yourself a fine mandolin, and you'd do well to explore its possibilities and see where they lead you. But if you should ever be so inclined ... All I want to say is my mandola is a wonderful, magical, magnificent piece of craftsmanship, my best instrument, even more so than the A-2 I just got. It's just so resonant; it's always still ringing when I put it in the case. I should play it more.
    But that's just my opinion. I could be wrong. - Dennis Miller

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  21. #12
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    Default Re: Taking up (a) Mandolin

    I think 'took up' is possibly too understated a phrase for what you've taken on, or maybe what's taken you on It sounds a bit like 'I took up knitting to give my hands something to do while while watching TV'. This here is a whole new life thing - you can meet people of a kind you never new existed (sometimes that's good...), experience emotions and frustrations at a new level, have a new social focus (once we're let out to play again) - why, you can even learn to play 'Stonehenge' from Spinal Tap. With that thing in your hands, you're a Musician, you can leap tall doorsteps and kick sand in the faces of mere Citizens. People will look at you differently. Some may offer you drinks and mind altering substances (see other topics here), some will view you with new found reverence, some may cross the road to avoid you. Something about you will induce complete strangers to say the magic words "I play too", and sometimes the not so magic words "I have a mandolin". This last means they found one in the attic, they have absolutely no intention of playing it, and in short....they are a person with a mandolin but without music, a mere sham and impostor, a shell of humanity. I'm told that if we get good at it, and depending on what type we get good at, there's a chance of free meals in Italian bistros, or the right to wear big hats, high trousers and cowboy boots in urban areas without censure. Diligence in the Gaelic musics might even lead to being asked "What part o' the Ould Counthry are you from, then" (Irish/Boston), or if caught playing Scottish 'choons', "You fae Glesca? Ahm skint, gisae bevvy.." ("Are you from Glasgow? I am temporarily financially embarrassed, please buy me a drink").

    I hope I haven't understated this at all. We need a new phrase, like the verb to 'mandol', or maybe people will adopt a knowing look and say "She has mandolin, you know." Have fun.

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    Registered User John Soper's Avatar
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    Default Re: Taking up (a) Mandolin

    I was taken up by the mandolin.

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    Registered User T.D.Nydn's Avatar
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    Default Re: Taking up (a) Mandolin

    Even though I was playing well before that,I bought my first Gibson mandolin in 1980,,I still practice several times a day,every day,and find it more exciting now than ever,,,seems like the more i play,the better I got,the better I got,the more I played..

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  27. #15

    Default Re: Taking up (a) Mandolin

    I’m thankful every day that I took up the mandolin seven months ago!

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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Taking up (a) Mandolin

    I was aware of mandolin in my early days but didn't really know what I would do with it. In college a bunch of us folkies played guitar and one sent in an application to be on a local TV talent show. There were too many guitars so a friend lent me his Martin mandolin in order to play three chords. After that I decided to get a mandolin of my own and bought a bowlback not knowing it was not cool. But I never knew anyone to play bluegrass at that time. In any case, I did take up fiddle and realized that mandolin was the perfect transition instrument between fiddle and guitar. That was over 45 years ago.

    I am still playing and still learning and will probably do so until I keel over.
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    Barn Cat Mandolins Bob Clark's Avatar
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    Default Re: Taking up (a) Mandolin

    I agree Sue, to 'take up the mandolin' is a wonderful and evocative turn of phrase. For me though, even though I probably have never said it out loud, I think of my mandolin journey as one in which I was 'transformed by' the mandolin. I truly believe the impact of this little instrument (and its relatives) on my life has truly been transformative. I am a different and happier person because of it. I'll bet it either is, or will be the same with you.

    Best wishes,

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    Default Re: Taking up (a) Mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by Sue Rieter View Post
    I like this expression. I like rolling it around in my head and thinking about it.

    I was moving along through my life, and a mandolin happened. I took it up into my hands, and my life changed

    I like saying to people, "I took up mandolin last year." It makes me smile, it's a change for the better. It sounds simple, but it covers alot of ground.
    Cool!

    “There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats.” ― Albert Schweitzer

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  35. #19
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    Default Re: Taking up (a) Mandolin

    I took up my mandolin last year about the same time as you. I then quickly set that particular mandolin right down and took up a slightly more expensive and significantly more immersive instrumental friend. My mandolin is the most beautiful thing I own, in and of itself, and because of the beautiful art that comes from it. As my mandolin teaches me about tone and the laws of music, I feel the stretching pain of inadequacy, and yet the growing joy of knowing that even though there are many things I cannot do, there are many I can, and a path of progress ahead. It truly has given me a new identity, and a new way of interacting with the world. I play for the people in my zoom meetings, I play for the passers-by out in the open when the weather's warm enough, and I play for the social gatherings that are cautiously returning from their covid hibernation. So far, nobody's told me to stop yet, and that only builds my confidence further. I can't wait to grow into someone who can really use the mandolin I've taken up, so I'll play it to pass the time.

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