THE AMERICAN MANDOLIN METHOD, VOLUME 2—BY BRIAN WICKLUND AND BEN WINSHIP—Mel Bay MB20146BCD. (Mel Bay, #4 Industrial Dr., Pacific, MO 63069, www.melbay.com.)
Regarding the amount of technique presented in this intermediate-level volume of instruction, it needs to be said that there isn’t that much of it. Twenty-two pages comprise the entirety of the teaching and, of those, at least seven review the absolute basics covered in Volume One. New subjects covered include pick direction patterns, scale patterns, hammer-ons, pull-offs, and slides, along with some new chord shapes and thoughts on jamming.
By presenting only a few techniques, however, the book avoids being overwhelming and limits the allure of jumping ahead too quickly. In a sense, it’s like taking a lesson from a teacher; they’ll only show you so much per visit. This book contains, perhaps, four lessons worth of ideas. The student can then focus those techniques on what is the real meat of this set, the 29 tunes in both standard notation and tablature, each of them musically illustrated on the accompanying CD. Most of the songs are standards of the “Liberty” or “Soldier’s Joy” type, but a few, such as “Glory In The Meeting House” or “President Garfield’s Hornpipe,” may prove less familiar. The least-known is Brian Wicklund’s original, “Wise Old Friend.”
Each tune, none of them overly complex, is clearly presented and is played through with guitar support, twice by the mandolin, once by the fiddle. The tempos range from the 80 bpms of “Elzik’s Farewell” to the 100 bpms of “Katy Hill,” with 92 to 96 being the most common. That’s a relaxed range and fits well with the aim of this volume—that of offering easy to grasp intermediate-level instruction.BW