Mandolin, Irish, levels 2/3

Instructor(s): Marla Fibish

This class is all about getting the feel, pulse and flow of Irish music into your mandolin playing. We’ll focus on understanding and developing techniques for playing the many forms of Irish dance music on the mandolin – jigs, reels, slip jigs, hop jigs, polkas, slides, waltzes, etc. We’ll work on both right and left hand techniques, learning to express the distinctive rhythmic forms, to deliver the pulse of the music, while improving tone production and sustain. We’ll highlight some unique things that the mandolin brings to the music. We’ll explore phrasing, ornamentation and variation, always focusing on musicality, learning how to give life and lift to the tunes you learn—how to take them from a series of notes into joyful, gratifying expression in Irish music!

MP3 files of tunes we’ll be working on will be provided well in advance of camp so we can spend class time exploring ways to express the tunes, applying concepts and techniques that we learn in class. We’ll also look at tunes you already know, but feel ‘stuck’ on, perhaps unable to take them beyond the way you learned them, and try to push open a few doors to take your playing to the next level. 

Marla Fibish


Students needn’t have prior experience with Irish music, but should be comfortable playing melodies in first position in common keys (D, G, A, Am, Bm, Em) and should be open to learning by ear. Students should also be willing to spend the time to get a basic grasp of the provided tunes prior to camp. Please bring a recording device!

About Marla Fibish

Marla is one of the prominent voices of the mandolin in Irish music, bringing a deep and distinctive sensibility to the tradition on one of its lesser heard instruments. Her dynamic playing is featured on her 2020 solo album The Bright Hollow Fog, the 2017 Noctambule release A Sweetish Tune, the eponymous Three Mile Stone recording with Erin Shrader and Richard Mandel, and The Morning Star with legendary Irish singer/bouzouki player Jimmy Crowley. She has performed and taught nationally and in Ireland. Marla also plays mandola, tenor guitar and button accordion, and is a singer and composer. She is known for her musical settings of works from a variety of poets, as well as original tunes written in traditional forms. This work is featured in the duo Noctambule with guitarist and husband Bruce Victor, on their four studio albums.

An experienced and sought-after teacher, Marla teaches private students and classes, online at Peghead Nation, and has taught at Swannanoa Gathering, Mandolin Symposium, O’Flaherty Irish Music Retreat, Portal Irish Music Week, California Coast Music Camp, Colorado Roots Music Camp, Lark Camp and more. Marla has also released an instructional DVD. As her students will attest, Marla is an exceptional teacher, and we’re excited to be bringing her back to Walker Creek this spring.