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Bluegrass Mandolin Lesson: Learning Your Chord Scales with Sierra Hull


As you continue to progress on the mandolin, it’s important that you not only exercise your dexterity and improve your physical technique but also understand the basic music theory that supports the mandolin notes, scales, arpeggios, and chords you’re playing beneath your fingers. This will make learning new tunes easier, improvising simpler, sitting in at jam sessions more enjoyable, and make you a more well-rounded player.


In Part 1 of this intermediate online mandolin lesson, Grammy Award-winning musician, 4-time IBMA “Mandolin Player of the Year,” and ArtistWorks master bluegrass mandolin instructor, Sierra Hull, details the chord qualities that are defined by each root note of the major scale. She calls this concept a “Chord Scale.” Using the G Major scale as an example, Sierra travels up each note of the scale and shows you the harmonic quality of each note’s chord within the key of G. This might sound a little bit intimidating or confusing at first, but it’s actually a fairly simple construct. Once it’s under your fingers, it will serve you well at your next jam session. To explore Part 2 of this lesson and more, join Sierra's online mandolin course here.


LEARN MORE: Want to learn how to play bluegrass mandolin from a master musician like Sierra Hull? Try some free online mandolin lessons now!


“Maybe you’ve been to a jam session before and you’ve heard someone say that they’re playing a ‘vi minor’ chord,” Sierra explains. “What exactly does that mean? In this lesson, I’m going to teach you what that means, how you can build that chord on your own, and quickly get you jammin’ with your friends.”


As a starting point, it’s critical to understand where the I, IV, and V chords are located within the key that you’re playing. In the key of G, those chords are G Major, C Major, and D Major. Once you understand where those mandolin chords are located and why, finding chords like the ii and the vi becomes quite simple.


“If you can remember the notes within the major scale, you can find the notes within the ii or vi chords relatively easily. It just takes a little bit of thought and consideration to make sure you’re staying within the key,” Sierra explains. “Eventually, you’ll commit the music theory that supports the chord scale to memory, and this will all become second nature.”


To learn how to play chord scales on the mandolin and understand the fundamental music theory behind the harmonies of the major scale, dive into this online mandolin lesson from Sierra Hull:


Learning Your Chord Scales with Sierra Hull:




Have you always wanted to learn how to play bluegrass mandolin? Through our comprehensive mandolin lessons online and Video Exchange Learning platform here at ArtistWorks, you can learn from internationally renowned players, like Sierra Hull, and get personal feedback on your playing.

Sierra’s course starts with the basics and teaches everything from beginner mandolin to advanced performance techniques and classic bluegrass tunes. So, whether you’re a beginner, intermediate, or advanced player, all levels are welcome and all students will grow and improve their skills as mandolinists and musicians.


Try out some free sample music lessons here and see what makes ArtistWorks courses some of the best online music lessons around!



Bluegrass Mandolin Lesson: Setting Your Tone Goals with Sierra Hull

My Bluegrass Heart: An Interview with Béla Fleck, Bryan Sutton, & Sierra Hull

Bluegrass Mandolin Lesson: Learn to Play “Amazing Grace” with Sierra Hull




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