Ask Marilynn

Marilynn has included some of her most commonly asked questions and answers here. If you don’t see your specific question addresses, feel free to send her an email.

Of Note

From the mailbox:

Sometimes a letter arrives that says so much about Marilynn’s work:
Dear Marilynn,
I last communicated with you some time ago when I was seeking advice on acquiring a passable(or any) tremolo. This was after collating your on-line advice from the internet and any hard copy that I could get. … Read More »

Posted February 6th, 2014

Pick technique for Choro

Q: As a form of motivation for doing scales, I purchased your and Mr. Sa’s choro book.  When looking through it, I saw no indications for downstrokes and upstrokes over any of the notes.  I understand the general rule of placing downstrokes on more accented notes (on beats, etc.) but with the syncopation of choro I was wondering if this rule still applies.  Is there any general rule dictating where downstrokes and upstrokes should be in syncopated music like … Read More »

Posted January 8th, 2011

Tremolo hand position

Q: I’ve been a student of your method since late this summer, and I’m enjoying the progress I’ve made under the guidance of your book.  Melodic possibilities are opening up to me now, and I’m starting to get a bit more gratification from my playing.  Thank you!

First, I have a question about tremolo.  Forgive me for being yet another novice confused about the specifics of tremolo, but I was wondering if it’s acceptable to (with the right hand) lightly … Read More »

Posted January 8th, 2011

Organizing Practice Sessions

Q: Marilynn,
I love your method book. I am currently finishing up a different book that is for beginners and plan to work with yours next. Just by reading through it, it has already helped me greatly with my tone. My biggest concern right now is: How do I organize my practice time. I am mostly self-taught. What is the best way to warm up? How much time should I spend on each of the four sections of your book? … Read More »

Posted December 12th, 2010

Mozart’s mandolin

Q: In your article on the Mozart song “Komm, Liebe Zither, Komm” you mentioned that the piece was probably written for the 6 string Austrian mandolin. Has anyone sat down with various instruments to see which one the music fit most naturally? Zither was the German word for cittern, so I thought it was written for something in the cittern family, like an English Guittar or a waldzither.

A: Well we do know that it was written for mandolin, … Read More »

Posted October 30th, 2010

Colleges and summer camps for mandolin

Q: My son, a senior in high school, has been playing mandolin for about 5 years and enjoys playing a wide variety of music including jazz, new grass, and classical. As he anticipates going off to college he would like to attend a school where he could advance his skills on the mandolin. do you know what colleges could provide a focus on this instrument? Also, he would like to attend several mandolin camps this summer. Could you recommend several … Read More »

Posted October 22nd, 2010

Fingering figured out

Q: I have been learning mandolin for a year or so and have just purchased your Complete Mandolinist and already it has helped me in regards to tremolo technique especially, but in many other ways too. I live in a rural area of Australia where I could find only one tutor of mandolin and to my dismay on buying your book I find I have been using different fingers for the frets from those you advocate in your book.  This … Read More »

Posted October 22nd, 2010

Upstroke (again) & Tremolo

Q: I have been playing the mandolin for about a month now and am confused by a tiny, yet seemingly huge issue.  Specifically, the upstroke.  I’ve purchased your book (an awesome work by the way) and in it you say to just play the lower of the two strings on any given pair when doing an upstroke.  In addition, I recently read your tremolo technique article on your website and there was no mention there of whether or not to … Read More »

Posted August 17th, 2010 | Leave a comment

Lyon & Healey or replica?

Q: I have a couple of questions about your mandolins. I’ve noticed one of the mandolin you play is a Lyon and Healy-style instrument, is this a replica or an original? If it’s a replica, who was the luthier? Would you recommend this instrument to a “classical” mandolinist? I’ve also seen pictures of an a-style mandolin that you use, who is the maker of that instrument? I’ve greatly enjoyed reading your articles, especially the one on the Beethoven’s works, it … Read More »

Posted August 17th, 2010 | Leave a comment

One string on the upstroke?

Q: I’m just starting out with the mandolin and bought your book on recommendation from a friend. I must say that I’m really looking forward to working though the book. I’m interested in medieval, classical and english folk music and am glad to see a resource that is a bit more grounded in musicianship than the normal ‘here’s three chords and away you go’ approach. One question I have – is it generally true that in the downstroke you always … Read More »

Posted August 17th, 2010 | Leave a comment
  • "Stepping back to the 18th-century masterworks gave her the opportunity to highlight her technique with a fresh light... her playing is thoughtful, vibrant and a delight to listen to." -- Terence Pender, Mandolin Quarterly (USA)
    "A lovely concert! We estimate your spell-bound and enthusiastic audience at close to 1800 people…" - Lincoln Center Out-Of-Doors (USA)
    "A brilliant concert from beginning to end…The performance was extraordinary." – La Rioja (Spain)
    "Marilynn Mair has always had the keen ability to balance classical mandolin traditions and repertoire, while constantly breaking new musical ground…a superb and versatile mandolinist and composer." - – Butch Baldassari, Mandolin Magazine (USA)
    "Mair travels by mandolin to Brazil and brilliance... her commitment to the music shines through." - Rick Massimo, The Providence Journal
    "Marilynn Mair acquits herself very well indeed, a most accomplished player, able to deal with the many intricacies the repertoire demands of her." - Chris Kilvington, Classical Guitar (England)
    Bring a talented ensemble of gifted musicians together playing some of the great concertos and chamber music pieces of the 1700s, present the extraordinary classical mandolinist Marilynn Mair front and center, and you have a rare combination of the right musicians performing the right music at the right time. – David McCarty, Mandolin Magazine (USA)
    "Smudging the lines between folk and classical is an intrepid endeavor... Mair's a superb mandolin player who has brought the instrument to unexpected places..." - Jim Macnie, The Providence Phoenix (USA)
    "Mair displays an exceptionally gifted approach to this music, using her formidable mandolin technique with grace and sensitivity… It’s the next best thing to a trip to Rio." – David McCarty, Mandolin Magazine (USA)
    "She’s a fabulous player with a wonderfully clear and lyrical sound." – The Ottawa Citizen (Canada)
    "Marilynn Mair performs Brazilian mandolin music... she plays the mandolin as an instrument for all occasions." – Vaughn Watson, The Providence Journal (USA)
    "A sparkling concert… absolutely brilliant!" – Guitar Magazine (England)
    Marilynn Mair on mandolin...touches the deepest and most engaging reaches of the ancient and passionate 'Latin soul'. - Carlos Agudelo, Billboard Magazine
    "Marilynn Mair é uma bandolinista americana de formação erudita" -- Paulo Eduardo Neves, Agenda do Samba Choro (Brasil)
    "Marilynn Mair lives up to her reputation as an excellent mandolinist, with clear tone, a beautiful tremolo, and creative expressiveness." – Zupfmusik Magazin (Germany)
    "Mair is unstoppable… capable of evoking any landscape, past or present, you’d care to conjure." – Mike Caito, Providence Phoenix (USA)
    "The final repeat of the melody transmitted a strong feeling of peace and tenderness that escaped no one in the audience. It is this sensitivity and subtleness that characterized the overall performance." - Brian Hodel, Guitar Review (USA)