A Few Minutes with Mike Marshall

Could you tell us about your teaching style?

I’ve taught so many things over these 12 years at the Symposium. This year I really want to focus on having the students PLAY in my classes. I want it to be a really intense hands-on experience for them. Not so much lecturing and speaking about concepts. It’s going to be about jamming with folks and then discussing what was great and what could be worked on from there. Learning by doing. That’s my mantra this year.

I try to remember how hard it has been for me to latch on to things as I have pried open these various musical worlds. And I am just crazy about saving folks a whole bunch of time at this. To be able to figure out for people exactly what they need to do next so they can get to that next level has a magical feeling about it. It’s all about sharing and passing information on to everyone.

I usually have Tab for my stuff as well as notation but I’ve been really trying to impress on everyone how important it is to learn to read. Only because it opens up ALL of the history of music to us. Not just mandolin music.

Also I don’t like someone telling me what fret and string I should play a certain note with. With notation you can explore 3 or 4 solutions to fingerings and not just push whatever fret they might be telling you to press at that moment.

What will your ensemble be like?

I believe I will be running a Brazilian Choro group this year. It’s an amazing style of music and every year our players get better and better at playing this music, so it’s been a wonderful experience to watch this whole thing grow and to be a part of spreading the good gospel.

What other things do you expect to experience at the Symposium this year?

The performances always offer magic. Every night. It’s just an amazing set-up for things to just take off. Our mandolin playing buddies are there and launch the music into wonderful places. I expect to meet some very cool folks and to hear some really good student players that for whatever reason I had not had the opportunity to be with in the same place and time.

Mike Marshall's Web Site