Mandolin Appreciation with Alan Epstein | Lessonface

Mandolin Appreciation with Alan Epstein

The first step to music appreciation is listening. Experienced mandolin instructor Alan Epstein shared with us his favorite tunes that will make you want to pick up a mandolin and learn how to play.  

Maggie May by Rod Stewart

Skip to 3:33 to catch the mandolin solo at the end of this popular tune.

Going to California by Led Zeppelin

The mandolin adds a unique touch to this quiet Led Zeppelin song. It's even shown in the second shot of the video!

Losing My Religion by R.E.M.

The mandolin adds a distinct character to this classic R.E.M. song. It's the only instrument shown in the music video!

Why the Mandolin Is the Best Instrument

"I love the sweet sound of the mandolin and that it makes people smile," Epstein says, "the mandolin is the backbone of bluegrass, which is my favorite music."

There is no denying that the mandolin spices up the classics listed above and many more popular tunes. The mandolin has a deeper history than just adding to rock tunes, however. 

Epstein passionately recalls, "The mandolin has a rich cultural and historical background. How many times have I heard 'Oh my Grandfather' played on the mandolin." Epstein adds, "It's the only instrument that both Beethoven and Bill Monroe have composed music for."

Unique Opportunities Presented by the Mandolin

Epstein recalls a few opportunities that came his way as a mandolin player. His favorite memories are, "Playing a wide variety of music from bluegrass bands to mandolin orchestras, teaching others to play the mandolin, and reviving the lost art of the strolling mandolinist."

Epstein humbly forgets to mention that he is the founder of the modern day Pittsburgh Mandolin Orchestra. He continuously learns from the best teachers and brings this knowledge into his lessons and orchestras. Epstein has certainly opened some unique doors with his love for the mandolin!

Epstein adds with a smile, "I believe that playing music can reverse the aging process." 

Other Perks of Playing the Mandolin

As a mandolin appreciator, Epstein filled us in on all of the perks of being a mandolin player. He says, "It's tuned the same as a violin or fiddle, so it has a broad range of music that can be played on it." Epstein jokes, "It's the perfect size, so fits easily into an overhead compartment." 

A wide range of music that's easy to transport. Seems like any touring musician's dream!

Tips for Beginner Students

Luckily Epstein is hosting a one hour online beginner mandolin workshop to get you started on your own Mandolin Journey.

In order to prepare for the course, Epstein suggests, "Make sure your mandolin is set up properly." He continues, "Have an electronic tuner available for the class and practice tuning the instrument. Have a few picks of different sizes and thicknesses." 

Also be sure to check out some bluegrass featuring the mandolin. Epstein's favorites are listed below!

The Punch Brothers

This modern bluegrass band brings lots of energy and passion to their songs!

Del McCoury Band

Del McCoury band revisits an old song from Bill Monroe's band, showing the more traditional roots of mandolin and bluegrass music.

Yonder Mountain String Band

Yonder Mountain String Band is a progressive bluegrass band, featuring a frontman on mandolin.

If these songs have you grooving and ready to pick up the mandolin, be sure to join Alan Epstein's workshop happening in October!

Alan Epstein has been playing mandolin for over 40 years. He enjoys teaching a wide range of styles and giving his students the confidence to excel in many genres. 


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