Online learning resources, be it courses, videos, written content, one-on-one coaching, apps, et cetera, provide fantastic opportunities to learn (and teach) how to play the mandolin and understand music more generally. Though nothing truly beats dedicated in-person mandolin lessons, there are plenty of excellent alternatives online.
Note that by “resources,” I'm not only referring to video tutoring and full-length courses (though these are arguably the best options). I'm also considering masterclasses, applications, videos and articles, and other online resources for learning how to play the mandolin.
Though obviously subjective and prone to biases, I’ve done my best to list out these resources based on the following metrics (in no particular order):
- Reputation of the mandolin learning resource
- Quality of education in technique, theory, and learning real songs
- Organization and depth of learning
- Adaptability of teaching to individual students (one-on-one lessons are best here)
- The resource must be currently available
With all that being said, let’s list out the learning resources.
The top 11 best online resources to learn how to play the mandolin are:
- Online Academy Of Irish Music
- Peghead Nation
- Mandolin Compass
- Banjo Ben Clark
- Mandolin Secrets
- Mando Montreal
In this article, we'll go through each of the resources mentioned above to get a stronger idea of what makes them great for learning the mandolin. Whether you're a complete beginner or a successful professional, there is always something to learn! I'll include links to check out each of the options for yourself to learn more about mandolins. We'll also consider a few “honourable mentions” worth considering.
ArtistWorks offers hundreds of courses on various instruments, all taught by professional musicians and world-class teachers. Some of the courses are offered in different music styles, so students have a choice of what kind of sound they want to learn.
An impressive feature of ArtistWorks is their Video Exchange Learning. Along with video lessons and worksheets, students will be able to submit their own videos to their teachers and receive individualized feedback and responses back. This interaction is then uploaded to the Video Exchange Library, where other students around the world can learn from your interaction. You will also get access to hundreds of different video exchanges to learn from your peers. These videos can be accessed and uploaded whenever, wherever making them flexible with any schedule.
TrueFire is an excellent online learning resource with a primary focus on online guitar courses. However, they do offer a few lessons on different string instruments, such as the mandolin, banjo, and ukulele, to name a few. They have over 50,000 video lessons taught by Grammy award-winning artists and renowned teachers.
You can find different courses ranging in musical styles and skill levels. Each course is taught via interactive video lessons with features such as slo-mo and looping, so you can take your time and break down each lesson to suit your learning needs. Students can also track their goals, learn popular songs and access tools such as tuners and metronomes.
The most notable mandolin course is Andy Wood's Bluegrass Mandolin. This course is tailored for mandolin and guitar players to learn bluegrass mandolin with a focus on melody, rhythm and fills and has 47 video lessons to learn from.
Online Academy Of Irish Music
The Online Academy Of Irish Music (OAIM) is one of the best resources to learn to play Irish music. They feature numerous different courses on many instruments such as mandolin, fiddle, flute, piano and more, ranging from beginner through to advanced.
As for the mandolin lessons, they offer two courses: Mandolin Basics, aimed at beginners and Mandolin Progressions, for intermediate students to build upon their skills. Every course can be accessed 24/7 and is taught by video lessons that will teach you a few Irish songs along with skills. Included in each course are downloadable sheet music and mp3 files.
All students will also be able to access community forums as well as OAIM's virtual pub sessions. Here, you can learn and listen to traditional Irish music anywhere.
Peghead Nation is an excellent resource and String School where you can learn numerous string instruments and root music.
They have a large variety of Mandolin courses that range from beginner to intermediate and advanced as well different musical styles such as Irish, Bluegrass, Old-Time and Swing, to name a few. No matter your skill level or style, there is something for you!
The lessons are taught by on-demand videos and teach various different songs with play-along tracks to practice and learn from. Each course can be purchased on a monthly subscription with the option to upgrade to an “All-Access Plan,” which includes unlimited access to every instrument course available.
MandoLessons is a free resource to learn the mandolin taught by Baron Collins-Hill. He, too, learned how to play the mandolin online and created MandoLessons to give back to the community and teach others.
Here you can learn techniques, songs, music theory and more. The lessons range in difficulty, tune type, key and genre, providing a little bit of everything for everyone. New video lessons are added weekly and include standard notation, tabs, and play-along tracks. There is also a resource section that teaches you proper setup, guidance on buying a mandolin and an online tuner.
Mandolin Compass offers both free and premium online mandolin lessons. The free ones are to help students learn the basics of mandolin and introduce the teacher's style of instruction. While the premium courses are more in-depth and expand beyond the basics to more technical skills to help you master the mandolin.
There are 18 different premium courses to choose from that range from beginner to intermediate and advanced. The courses are taught by on-demand video lessons, so you can learn at your own pace and schedule. Depending on the course you take, they may also include standard notation, chord charts and tabs.
Banjo Ben Clark
Banjo Ben Clark is an excellent resource for people interested in learning the banjo, mandolin or guitar. Taught by Banjo Ben and Paige Garwood, Banjo Ben Clark offers a wide variety of free and paid online lessons ranging from beginner to intermediate and advanced.
There are two different memberships to choose from, the Silver Pick, which is a free membership that gives you access to complimentary video lessons. The second option is the Gold Pick. With this, you will access over 400+ video lessons that feature new videos weekly for all three instruments. These courses can be accessed anytime, anywhere and give you progress tracking to keep track of your goals. Additionally, if you cant find a lesson that teaches you specifically what you want to learn, you can reach out to Banjo Ben, and he will try to create a lesson on that subject.
As added bonuses to becoming Gold Pick members, you will get access to a community forum where you can chat with fellow students and upload videos to get feedback from other members and join Banjo Ben's live stream teaching sessions.
Mandolin Secrets is a great resource for musicians of all levels to learn to play the mandolin. When you become a member, you will get access to various step-by-step courses such as Mandolin Foundations, Jazz Composing Guide, Memorizing Music and much more.
All the courses are taught by on-demand video lessons. Members will also get access to sheet music, play-a-longs, and backing tracks. Some notable features of this resource are that it features daily 10-minute challenges to keep you learning and improving your techniques. There are also monthly live video hangouts with Magnus, instructor and creator of Mandolin Secrets. Here you can ask him questions and get feedback. And, you will get access to a community of other members to connect, share your questions and learn from your peers.
TakeLessons is a great online resource for both teachers and students interested in online and in-person teaching or learning. Here, you can take lessons on playing musical instruments, learning new languages, and even getting help with school subjects such as math and chemistry.
For students, you can explore different teachers' bios, pricing availability and check out reviews from other students. This helps you find the perfect teacher for you that fits within your schedule. Meanwhile, teachers will have access to an easy-to-use platform that brings the students to them and can create their own schedules and prices.
Lessonface helps connect students with teachers around the world for live one-on-one or group video lessons. They offer music and language lessons to all ages, at any skill level.
To book a lesson, you first look up the subject you want to learn, then explore through professional teachers' profiles and pick the one that best suits you. They will vary in price range, availability and skill level. There are also options to book per lesson or by package. A notable feature of Lessonface is that you can re-watch your lessons recordings later on, which is not something you can find on other live video learning resources.
Mando Montreal is an in-person and online school located in Montreal, Canada. It is perfect for people looking to learn either the mandolin or guitar. They offer private and group lessons, masterclasses, workshops and more.
There are two different online mandolin courses available: Starter Kit and Pop Chords. Both are available in 12 different languages and feature easy-to-learn course material taught via on-demand video lessons. Learn the mandolin on your own schedule in the comfort of your own home.