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Mandolin Lessons: Sitting Position

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I'd like to talk about posture now.
The mandolin, you know,
we think of it in this country as
primarily a folk instrument.
And that's where it has had most of its
And so like most folk instruments, people
just pick them up and
start playing them and do the best they
It's unlike the violin where you have a
very sort of,
a long tradition of of, of education about
how to play the violin and, and
how to hold the instrument and, and how to
hold the bow and these kind of things.
If you go take lessons from your local
music teacher,
teaching the Suzuki method, they're
probably gonna put you in,
what is an agreed upon posture for holding
the instrument up.
You put, you under your, under your chin
and you hold the bow like this.
But the mandolin doesn't have that, that
rich, long heritage of at least yet.
But we're gonna change all that here today
[LAUGH] and
I see a lot of crazy odd positions that
people end up in when they get a mandolin.
They just grab it and start playing it,
but what I've come to,
after many years of playing and watching
people who play very well, and you know,
sharing ideas is that the main thing is to
get the instrument
really solidified on your body between
your legs and held with your right arm.
The main goal here is that the left hand
should not be holding up the,
the neck of the mandolin.
If you're in a kind of sitting around on
the couch like this, and
you're just kind of you know, holding the
mandolin, whatever.
You're probably holding the instrument up
with this hand,
which is really going to slow you down,
and not,
and you're not going to be able to switch
positions very easily.
So, I encourage people to sit on the edge
of their chair.
Not leaning back on it too far.
And I always use a footstool.
Much like a classical guitarist.
Or I would use your case.
I, I tell students to just put their foot,
their left leg on their, on their mandolin
If it's a hard case, that is.
And get the mandolin really between your
If you put it on your right leg, again,
that headstock wants to fall down and here
you are holding it up again with your left
hand, so position it between your legs.
You don't have to have the point.
If you have a regular A style mandolin
it's, it's fine.
I'm not actually using the point on the,
on the knee, it's mostly decorative.
And then your right harm holds it in place
like that and another reason for getting
this leg up in the air is that you want
the, the head stock to be a little higher.
You don't want the mandolin to be parallel
to the ground,
you want to get this up in the air just a
tiny bit and the reason for
that has as much to do with the right hand
as it does with the left.
You, you want to be hitting the string at
an angle.
Not parallel to the string.
And rather than turning your hand, or your
arm, in some weird position to get that
angle, just by raising the headstock up,
you're now hitting the string.
With the front edge of the pick hitting
the string first.
you're coming at a slight angle to the
And it goes through the string much
quicker that way.
The other part of this that's important is
to get the back off of your belly,
so you're not touching,
you're not touching the, the back of the
mandolin with your belly.
I use this thing called a tone guard which
is wonderful.
You don't really need them.
Mainly I use it when I'm standing up.
It keeps the mandolin off of my belly.
I'll show you now the difference in tone
you know, putting the mandolin on my belly
versus not.
Here's it is nice and open and ringing,
the natural way.
And then as soon as I close it down, I'm
cutting like 20% of the sound.
So part of the deal of getting the
mandolin in between your legs, you're only
touching it up here, at the upper right
hand part of your chest, and on both legs.
[SOUND] So that, that back is free to