Mandolin Instruction-- Materials and Transcriptions by Debora Chen
Rave Reviews from Virtuosi of the Mandolin World:
Tony Williamson
, Don Stiernberg, Mike Marshall

Standard Notation for the Tab-Addicted Mandolinist offers long-time tab-addicts and by-ear players the shortest path to reading music available. It is also an excellent introduction to mandolin for those who already read treble clef fluently but need to learn the fretboard.

 "Debora Chen’s Standard Notation Book is the first of its kind. A generous, clear and approachable book
designed to unlock the mysteries of reading music for the many who have been playing with tablature or by ear for most of their lives..." (more) --Mike Marshall

...Now at last Debora Chen shares a new approach and there's a lot to like about it... The etudes are a series of attainable goals, not the usual 'do the best you can, you might get it someday' material... this book should be helpful to students and teachers of any style of mandolin playing who have been looking for ways to bring note reading within their grasp." (more)--Don Stiernberg

 "Debora Chen's book, 'Standard Notation for the Tab Addicted Mandolinist' is an essential volume for ANY student of the mandolin... Thank you so much Debora, I can't wait to purchase your next book!!! (more) --Tony Williamson

"Debora Chen's book gives every mandolinist the 'keys to the musical kingdom.'"
Bluegrass Breakdown, California Bluegrass Association

  J.S. Bach Mandolin Arrangements      FAQ
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Book was originally released at the 2007 Mandolin Symposium
Detailed description/review on Mandolin Cafe
 Why is it so hard to learn to read from fiddle tunes?

The hallmark of a good fiddle tune is that it is catchy. A typical trad musician has a good memory for melodies, and so after hearing it maybe three times, will remember it at least partially by ear. It is very difficult to learn to read from tunes you already know by ear. Secondly, good fiddle tunes are artfully laced with unexpected notes-- it’s what separates good fiddle tunes from forgotten ones.

Learning to read (efficiently) requires a certain amount of structured repetition. That is where the material in this book can help accelerate the process. Several trad style tunes (AABB, 16 bars) are supplied, but are restricted in pitch so that they will reinforce your visual memory of the note names/fingerings.

The exercises are designed to be sufficiently melodious to be engaging practice material, but not so catchy that they will stick tenaciously to your ear. By working through the exercises, you will systematically build the number of notes you recognize at sight, culminating in having visual recognition of the full range of the notes of first position (the first seven frets) corresponding to the key of G. Armed with this information, you can then adjust your fingering to accommodate other keys to play any music that interests you when you complete the book.

 Why is it so hard to learn to read from jazz standards?

To learn to read notation from jazz tunes is to infer the rules of a system by studying the exceptions. It's perfectly possible, but labor intensive, and quite likely to create the impression that the system itself is far more complex than it actually is.

It's far easier to learn the rules of a system from the rules, and appreciate the exceptions after the rules are clear; it saves effort and time to learn to read in a diatonic key without all those groovy color tones (lovely though they are), then add them later.

Mandolin Instruction-- Free Materials:
Free staff paper, fretboard paper, music samples, play along practice MP3's and chamber music are all available at String Thing Music.

Thoughts on notation vs. tab

and a few tips

Play along tracks and new book jazz mando book from

For more information on mandolin nirvana at the  Mandolin Symposium, click here.
For more information on
Deborah Chen ,
click here.

Free Tab Exchange

Customer Testimonials:
(for more complete testimonials, click here)

"I thought I had seen every book like this, but yours is head and shoulders above anything else available. Thank you for putting together the best thought out music book..."-- Rich S., Tennessee

"I recently purchased your book SNFTAM and I wanted to tell
you it is fantastic.  It has been very helpful to me so far in teaching me what I need to know to master standard notation.  I think you managed to include only what is
absolutely essential ... your explanations were also helpful
as well." -- Joe F., New Jersey

"I  received your book a few days ago and it has been immediately helpful to me...after only a few days, I have already made great strides in reading.  Thanks for a great book." -- Laurie D.,  New York

"I love the tab addicted book. It has really helped me sight read. I'm now sight reading musical notation for about 80% of the stuff I'm practicing. I am really enjoying your work. Keep it coming!" -- Walt W., New Jersey

"I must have a million music books - some are 4 times the size of this one - yet I can see immediately that this will be the most useful music book I've ever purchased!"-- Jill G., California

"'Standard Notation for the Tab Addicted Mandolinist' is the first music instruction book I have ever finished cover to cover. What a great book..."  --Mitchel G., New Jersey

"The notation book is terrific. Concise, logical, and best of all explains why the exercises are set up as they are."-- Richard K., Connecticut

"...I am really enjoying your Standard Notation Book. I have been playing mandolin for over 30 years now and reading music has always been somewhat difficult. I have been using your 15 minutes a day for a week on each section idea and I can honestly say that I see real progress."-- Alan E., Michigan

"I love your book as it is very informative and is teaching me things I did not understand. The exercises are brilliant and easy to understand, even for beginners like myself..." --Tony Marshall, United Kingdom

"Finally,a clear way to 'see' the mandolin fretboard in terms of standard notation...I've tried to learn 'music' so many times I've lost count, but snftam finally gave me a way to do it constructively that I haven't quit!" --Chris B., Virginia

"...I appreciate that the exercises are not overly complicated, yet after just a couple of hours I found myself not having to look at my hands all the time to find out where I was.  Thanks for such a great book."-- Mark C., Georgia
in your book it one better by creating the foundation for proper positional playing so the fingerings become self-evident. Nicely done." -- Ian M., Michigan

"...I'm leaving for a two week vacation but I'm packing my RISA Solid travel mando and your book."-- Dan H., Pennsylvania

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