Bluegrass Jamming on Mandolin and Fiddle

Bluegrass Jamming for MandolinWayne Erbsen’s two latest bluegrass instruction books begin his new Bluegrass Jamming series, with titles for both fiddlers and mandolinists. A similar book for banjo is expected later this year.

Like his earlier series titled as being for “The Complete Ignoramus,” these new offerings project a light-heared, easily-accesible approach designed to shake off the fear and trepidation new players often experience when tackling something as daunting as bluegrass music.

These are not instruction manuals, but song and tune books, loaded with tips and tricks to help a novice jammer become comfortable with the role of their instrument in a session. Both books use the same set of songs, but include different, instrument-specific coaching on important topics like filling the holes in the vocal melody and other accompaniment techniques.

Bluegrass Jamming on FiddleEach song is shown with its basic sung melody in both tab and standard notation. No solos are presented, though Wayne offers lots of suggestions for how to spice things up.

Both books begin with a section that briefly describes the history of bluegrass music, the structure and etiquette of a jam sessions, and some very basic music theory – again in an instrument-specific manner. An audio CD is included as well, where Erbsen plays each song/tune, along with any exercises, scales or examples he mentions in the text.

Though not so stated, these books could serve as a fine introduction to playing bluegrass mandolin or fiddle, for someone with even a cursory familiarity with the instruments.

You can find more details, including a list of songs, at

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.