Matt Flinner.jpg

Matt Flinner


Multi-instrumentalist Matt Flinner has made a career out of playing acoustic music in new ways. Starting out as a banjo prodigy who was playing bluegrass festivals before he entered his teens, Flinner later took up the mandolin, won the National Banjo Contest at Winfield Kansas in 1990, and took the mandolin award there the following year. Since then, he has become recognized as one of the premiere mandolinists as well as one of the finest new acoustic/roots music composers today. He has toured and recorded with a wide variety of bluegrass, new acoustic, classical and jazz artists, including Tim O’Brien, Frank Vignola, Steve Martin, Darrell Scott, the Modern Mandolin Quartet, Dave Douglas, Leftover Salmon, Alison Brown, The Ying Quartet, Tony Trischka, Darol Anger, and the Nashville Chamber Orchestra. He has also recorded two Compass Records CDs and toured as part of Phillips, Grier and Flinner with bassist Todd Phillips and guitarist David Grier. His two solo CDs (also on Compass), “The View from Here” and “Latitude,” are now widely considered classics in the new acoustic/modern bluegrass style. His current group, the Matt Flinner Trio (with guitarist Ross Martin and bassist Eric Thorin), has forged new pathways in acoustic string band music with their two ground-breaking CDs, “Music du Jour” and “Winter Harvest” (coming soon!). “Flinner continues his reign as perhaps the most exciting and creative mandolin player on the scene today.”—Jazz Times


Bluegrass Style Mandolin (Intermediate): In this class, we’ll learn a bluegrass standard or two and talk about ways of playing the melody using double stops and certain positions on the neck.  We’ll learn some “fills” to play behind a vocalist and transpose those fills to keys that one commonly plays in in bluegrass music.  We’ll also discuss how to move double stops and licks around the neck to create your own solos and get started improvising.  

Improv fundamentals for mandolin (Intermediate/Advanced): This class will focus on learning more about the fretboard while learning some of the basic tools for improvisation.  We’ll look at various scales, melodic patterns and arpeggios to help students play over most of the chords we encounter in both bluegrass and swing.  We’ll also look at a couple of exercises for ear training that students can take home with them, so that they can more effectively work toward playing what they hear.  Some practice routine tips will also be given. 

Old time tunes for mandolin (Adv. Beg/Intermediate): This class will focus on groove and tone—and old time tunes.  We’ll spend time on some fundamentals including picking exercises for control and better tone, double stops and rhythm playing.  And we’ll learn a couple of old-time tunes and discuss using open strings for a “drone” effect, octave variations, and getting that old-time groove.  

Chords and backup (Advanced Beginner): In this class, we’ll look at various approaches to playing rhythm.  We’ll look at bluegrass “chop” chords in various keys and talk about how to get that percussive Monroe sound.  We’ll also look at using open chords (again, in various keys) to create a more guitar-like backup, and we’ll do some hands-on playing to get an idea of when to use which method.  

Newgrass mandolin (Intermediate/Advanced): This class will start with modern bluegrass and go from there.  We’ll learn a “newgrass” song and talk about how to play rhythm on it, how to play melody and how to improvise.  A bit of theory will be touched on, and some practical melodic patterns will be given to help get students started in soloing.  We’ll look at ways of navigating through more complex chord progressions and how to play rhythms in the variety of styles one might encounter in “newgrass” music.  

Fiddle tunes for mandolin (Intermediate): In this class, we’ll learn a standard bluegrass or old-time fiddle tune or two.  Once we learn the melody, we’ll talk about ways of varying that melody—through octave variations, going to different chord tones as the chords change, creating lines to connect high and low octaves, double stops and more.  Students will be given suggestions on how to vary the melody on other tunes that they already know as well.