Italian Mandolin
by Nicola Swindburne

A chance for mandolin players to learn techniques to play Italian folk melodies. The class will review simple picking techniques for playing single-line music and how to develop an effective tremolo that can convey the emotion of the music. We'll review how to get the greatest dynamic contrasts out of the mandolin including piano vs. forte, staccato and legato, and how to use glissando. We'll be using these techniques to play one or two Italian love songs in harmony.

Part 1

What are the essential elements in Italian mandolin music and why does it sound so different from bluegrass? We will listen to some recordings and analyze what makes that typical Italian sound then see how it can be produced on the mandolin. Recognize crescendos, glissandos and cadenzas. Part 1 would suit all mandolin players from beginners to advanced.

Part 2

Learn how to develop the typical Italian tremolo to mimic the sound of the human voice. The class includes several exercises for building a good tremolo that sounds pure, controlled and smooth. Learn how to mix single-picking styles with tremolo in Italian folk songs. Attending Part 1 is useful but not essential

Nicola Swinburne is a teacher of Italian and classical mandolin in the East Bay, San Francisco, Palo Alto and Petaluma . She is a faculty member of San Francisco's Community Music Center. She performs in a variety of small ensembles with harp, guitar, and other mandolins and occasionally as a soloist with orchestras. She recorded a CD of arranged classical, operatic and folk pieces with harpist Mitch Landy called Serenata.

Visit her website at


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