Mandolin Instruction-- Materials and Transcriptions by Debora Chen
Debora Chen--- Mandolin Workshops
No workshops are currently scheduled.  For information on individual lessons/tutorials over Skype email your inquiry here.


JUNE 23- 28, 2008

Standard Notation for the Tab-Addicted Mandolinist 7:10-7:50 Tuesday- Friday

“Debora Chen has a clear and clean approach to teaching reading music notation. For you 'pickers' out there who have not been able to crack that barrier, go see her. She'll make it fun too!” -- Mike Marshall

"Debora Chen's Standard Notation for the Tab Addicted class was among the most well-attended classes of the 2006 Mandolin Symposium. Her clear, patient teaching received rave reviews from students who enthusiastically clamored for her return in 2007. We believe learning to read music opens a vast world to players of all types and enthusiastically endorse Debora's work to bring musical literacy to the mandolin world." -- Patrice O'Neil, Mandolin Symposium Staff

"I cannot possibly tell you how much it means to me to be able to read standard music and have it come out of my instrument in real time. Her simple, clear exercises were extremely helpful in getting over this life-long hurdle." -- Mandolin Symposium Student

Classical Session-- held after each evening showcase concert, ~10:00--12:00
For those who would like to practice a few chamber music pieces in advance, downloadable pdf's of some suggested pieces are below.  Other downloadable pdf's may be added later.  There will be many other pieces available at the session (e.g. Beethoven-- Adagio for Mandolin, Bach-- Brandenburg Concerti, et al).  
If you are interested in playing the larger, more difficult pieces, please let us know so we can determine if we have critical mass. (Everything below is notation only except Bach Invention No. 4)

 Anonymous --Trio for 2 mandolins and bass (gimo 359)  mando I, mando II, bass
-- Duet for 2 mandolins (Gimo 147)
Barbella-- Duet for 2 mandolins and bass (gimo 18) zipped pdfs
Caudioso-- Concerto for mandolin, 2 violins and bass (gimo 58) zipped pdfs
Ugolini--Concerto for mandolin, 2 violins and bass (gimo 297) zipped pdfs
Pachelbel-- Canon in D  zipped pdfs
Haydn-- Quartet in D, Op 76. No. 5--  score ,
mando I, mando II, mandola, cello
Mozart-- Table Music for Two
Mozart-- Canonzetta from Don Giovanni zipped pdfs
J.S. Bach-- Concerto for 2 Violins in Dm  zipped pdfs

Vivaldi-- Autumn mando I, mando II, mandola, cello, solo mando
Excerpt from Bach 2-Part Invention No. 4 (includes tab)

Mandolin Symposium information
2008 Class Decriptions

 Standard Notation for the Tab-Addicted Mandolinist-- details TBA
“Abundant bland comestibles derange eaters;  frequent gasps help immensely...”
Could you have ever learned to read English if you used a mnemonic to remember its alphabet?  Every good mandolinist would do well to forget the oft quoted fate of ‘every good boy’.  There is a better way....This class series is devised to break the aspiring mandolinist's addiction to TAB.   Instructional material includes carefully designed exercises from Debora Chen's book, "Standard Notation for the Tab-Addicted Mandolinist", composed specifically to exploit the idiosyncrasies of the mandolin to highlight easy note recognition and foster good technique.  With this 4-class series, you can,
in less than 4 hours, convert from a decades-addicted tab reader to a musical literate able to read an adaptation from J.S. Bach's Partita III for Unaccompanied violin.  (Yes, really.)

New section this year will include a class on reading chords, relating the staff the chord diagrams mandolinists know and love.

November 17, 2007
Two Workshops at Freight & Salvage Coffee House
1111 Addison St., Berkeley, CA.

10:00AM-- 12:00PM Mandolin Technique Workshop-- Tips and Tricks for Melodic Playing
If you have ever struggled with a gnarly tune and wished your hands were bigger, stronger and faster, this workshop is for you. Topics covered will include:
-- getting around the neck without needing to look at it
-- optimizing your reach
-- getting more mileage out of your 4th finger
-- playing with less tension
-- how to use the bones in your left hand to your advantage
-- right hand dexterity tips and exercises
-- a systematic approach to increasing your speed and accuracy
We will use common fiddle tunes (blackberry blossom + participants' choices) as examples. Written handouts are included. Class size is limited to 12.

12:45PM-- 2:45PM Standard Notation for the Tab-Addicted Mandolinist (condensed version)
Mandolinists who need to watch their hands are strongly encouraged to take the morning session as well.

This workshop will cover getting around the staff in an intuitive, mandolinistic manner and is devised to break the aspiring mandolinist's dependency on tab. Material presented will include carefully designed exercises from Debora's book, "Standard Notation for the Tab Addicted Mandolinist", composed specifically to exploit the idiosyncrasies of the mandolin to highlight easy note recognition, and encourage good technique.
Topics include
--relating the staff to your fretboard
--interval recognition, both on the staff and on the fretboard
--how to approach syncopated rhythms (e.g. choro)
--using knowledge of common chord progressions like ii V I and I V I to accelerate note recognition
--tips on making it all sink in, maximizing your practice time

Workshop includes a packet of structured exercises to work on both during the workshop and at home which will lead participants through reading progressively more difficult etudes, concluding with reading (without any assistance from tab) an adaptation of a theme from Bach's Partita III for unaccompanied violin. From there, participants will be possess the skills to approach any tune they choose without relying on cumbersome mnemonics and be well on their way to reading any music they like.

What to bring: instrument, music stand if you have one, writing implements, and, if you are taking the morning session as well, you might want to pack a lunch because the break is short.

Cost: $42 per workshop. Class size is limited to 12. To Register in advance, use the "pay now" buttons below, or you may register through Freight & Salvage. You may also email to reserve a space and pay at at the door.  If you register through Freight & Salvage, please RSVP using the above email link as well.

JUNE 25- 30, 2007
more info

JUNE 9 & 16, 2007
workshop info

This two-part workshop is designed to break the aspiring mandolinist's addiction to TAB and is suitable for all levels of experience. Handouts with directed exercises and examples will be supplied at the first session and practice between sessions one and two is encouraged.

Topics covered will include tips for:

  • left and right hand dexterity and precision
  • how to get the most out of practice time for new skill acquisition
  • how to visually associate common fingering patterns with the staff
  • how to read syncopated rhythms (choro)
  • and especially useful for the experienced improvising mandolinist, how to utilize knowledge of common chord progressions such as ii, V, I & I, IV, V7, I to accelerate note recognition.

  • At the end of the second session, participants will be able to read an adaptation of an excerpt from the Bach Partita III for unaccompanied violin and be well on their way to reading anything they want.