I was asked, today, to teach a little girl mandolin for a couple of weeks during the summer. When I was being taught (last summer), my teacher taught me simple two-finger chords such as these:

However, it is a bluegrass program and these chords are not conducive to the main mando playing style, "chopping."

Those chords would look more like this:

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My question is which chord-type should I teach her? I want her to be better off than I was. Also, I haven't touched my mandolin for nearly a year and the atmospherically high actions renders it nigh unplayable.

  • 1
    How old, how big, musical, already plays? All relevant facts missing from the question. Assuming a beginner, instant success is required, thus simple chords are fine. Particularly those which will fit together in certain keys - e.g. G, C, D. Try those more advanced chords and it'll kill any enthusiasm pretty soon. – Tim Jul 12 '17 at 22:30
  • quick answer is teach the circle of fifths as it applies to the instrument – Ben Edwards Jul 14 '17 at 17:25

Well, I would suggest telling her both ways, and if she doesn't understand, explain it as "there's more than one way to add up to 5: 2+3=5 , 4+1=5 , etc.". I learned the A that you learned plays A5, A, Am, and A7. So at first, I would tell her the simple ones, then eventually switch to harder ones. My father copies off another, much more experienced guitar player at my church, but I find it difficult to "copy" off the our pastor on mandolin, but he can tell when I play wrong chords, so it might not be too difficult to see if she actually uses the new chords. I would say yes to the simpler chords first though.

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