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I teach private lessons on mandolin and mandola, in person (in Marin County, CA) and over Skype/Zoom/FaceTime, a well as group classes and workshops, online at Peghead Nation, and at many music camps.  Details on upcoming workshops, camps and class offerings are below, or drop me a line for more info at

A bit about my approach to teaching, and how I get beginners started:

  • My approach is based on aural and physical learning.
  • I believe the first job on this instrument is to develop the physical motion of the picking hand to create the pulse of Irish music in its various meters, starting with even meters -- reels, barndances, hornpipes, etc.  We do exercises that develop this motion so that, over time, it becomes automatic, and continues to solidify as we add fingering.
  • I use MP3 files as our primary sources - first of exercises, then adding simple tunes.  For those who have experience in reading music notation, and for those who wish to develop that skill, I will make reference to how what we are doing relates to what one would see in notation, but notation will not be our primary source.
  • I ensure everyone has good basic positioning on the instrument to facilitate your playing and protect your bodies.
  • And everything we do is centered around furthering your understanding of and love for the dance music of Ireland!


Group classes are a fantastic way to learn more tunes and grow confidence, while developing a group of compatriots who know the same tunes you do! We cluster tunes into sets so that you'll have some ready to go when someone invites you to start a tune at a session. We work on developing skills as well as learning tunes - we do exercises together to develop a strong rhythmic picking hand, as well as to develop fingering hand patternings and fretboard knowledge.

Zoom Classes! 

Though I have taught 1:1 over the web for years, it is only since the pandemic that I've held online classes. To my surprise I've learned that, though it's different and has it drawbacks, it also has a few distinct advantages -- participants really enjoy having the privacy to work on phrases or techniques during class without anyone hearing them, and you never have trouble hearing yourself because the person next to you is too loud! You also get plenty of practice time while others are playing for me, and the chance to hear your classmates individually has proved helpful and enlightening in surprising ways!

Here's how I am structuring the next round of classes:

  • Each series is comprised of 4 classes
  • Classes meet every other week at the designated day and time (with occasional anomalies due to my travel)
  • Classes are 75 minutes long
  • Classes are grouped by level, and limited to 8 participants
  • Recordings and transcriptions of tunes are provided well in advance of class
  • All classes are recorded, so you can view the video if you miss a class
  • $130 per series
My general expectation is that each participant will spend time getting the basics of the tune(s) prior to our class meetings.  During our precious class time we'll unravel any mysteries of the tunes, diagnose trouble spots, play the tune together and explore some ornamentation and variations that might suit the tunes. Everyone will have the opportunity to play the tune for me and the group if you'd like to get my feedback and suggestions.  No one will be put on the spot if that's uncomfortable for you.

LIMITED SUMMER 2024 CLASS SCHEDULE (see below for descriptions of levels)


        Class CRENSHAW - Wednesdays 12:00 noon - 1:15PM Pacific Time
        Class Dates: June 5 & 19, July 3 & 17


        Class PERSIMMON - Thursdays 4:30 - 5:45 Pacific Time
        Class Dates: June 6 & 20, July 4 & 18

ADV. INTERMEDIATE / ADVANCED (three sections):

         Class PAPAYA - Mondays 5:00-6:15PM Pacific Time 
         Class Dates: June
3 & 17, July 1 & 15

Class LARKSPUR - Wednesdays 4:00-5:15PM Pacific Time
Class Dates: June 5 & 19, July 3 & 17

Class AVOCADO - Thursdays 12:30 - 1:45PM Pacific Time
Class Dates: June 6 & 20, July 4 & 18

Resuming Fall 2024...


Tuesdays 5:00-6:00PM Pacific Time

         Class Dates: TUNESDAYS! will resume in Fall 2024

Each Tunesday we spend quality time with a well-known tune -- one that I have taught in past classes or is generally known -- and explore it more deeply.  We'll listen to different versions and settings of the tune from different players and on different instruments, perhaps played in alternate keys or with modal shifts. We'll talk about what we hear -- pulse and lift, placement of ornaments, variations, chordal framework -- and how we might capture what we like best about we're hearing in our own playing. These classes will be an hour long, and are not limited in size like the other classes.


I've received many requests over time to offer a class where we review sets of tunes that I've taught in previous classes, so that we can keep them fresh in our brains and in our session repertoire.  So I'm going to give it a try!  We'll meet on Saturday mornings (for me, that is!) for an hour -- 10:00 - 11:00AM Pacific Time, roughly every other week, for 3 sessions.  Each session we'll review a set of three tunes that I've taught in the past.  I'll post recordings of the tunes in advance of the class so that you can refresh your head.  This class is open to intermediate players and above.  This short 3-class session is $80.

     Saturdays 10:00-11:00AM Pacific Time

     Class Dates: SATURDAY SETS will resume in Fall 2024


If you are interested in joining a class, shoot me an email at mfibish @ gmail dot com.  If you don't see a class below that addresses your skill level or interests, or want to talk about which environment might be best for you, let me know, and we'll figure out a path for you. Please include the following info in your email:
  • your name
  • your timezone
  • your playing level, unless you are sure that I know it
  • your available days & times, expressed (and labelled) in your local timezone

Descriptions of class levels:

Beginner / Advanced Beginner

This class focuses on the basics of getting started on the mandolin, laying the foundation for learning to play Irish music on the instrument (techniques learned would also apply to interest in other trad forms -- Old Time, European, etc., but not bluegrass or classical music). Emphasis is placed on exercises that develop fretting hand placement, dexterity and pattern recognition, while building on a solid rhythmic picking hand technique, and (of course!) learning a few tunes. 


This class focuses on building basic technique for playing Irish music on the mandolin. We continue to work with exercises to get both right and left hand working for playing tunes. Participants will learn 6-8 tunes in the course of the series. Tunes are learned in sets to facilitate session playing. Recordings and transcriptions of the tunes are made available ahead of the class meetings.

Advanced Intermediate / Advanced

This class focuses on Irish tune repertoire building while expanding mandolin technique to add ornamentation and variation to your tunes, with focus on phrasing and musicality.  Participants will learn 6-8 tunes in the course of the series. Tunes are learned in sets to facilitate session playing. Recordings and transcriptions of the tunes are made available ahead of the class meetings.


Weekend Intensive Workshop -- November 8-10, 2024 -- Ennis, Co. Clare, Ireland

My dear friend Danese has offered her beautiful home once again for a Weekend Intensive Workshop in Ennis, County Clare, Ireland.

Weekend Intensives are a great opportunity for remote students to get in-person instruction in the company of a small group of players looking to take their playing to the next level, and have some fun in the process!

We've selected the weekend of November 8-10, 2024, which coincides with the 30th Annual Ennis Tradfest, so there will be lots of additional fun to be had in the form of special concerts, album launches, céilís, and loads of sessions!

Here's the basic structure:

  * 9 group classes (75-90 minutes each) over two and a half days

  * A 30-minute private lesson for each participant

  * Lunch on Saturday & Sunday, coffee, tea and snacks are included

  * Price $300

Classes 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, hornpipes, marches, waltzes and barn dances. Recordings of tunes are provided well in advance so that we can focus on advanced techniques rather than on tune-learning.

Develop the necessary skills for playing Irish music on the mandolin...
We work on both picking and fingering hand techniques to express the distinctive rhythmic forms, deliver the pulse of the music, and improve tone production and sustain on our instruments. We'll highlight the unique things that the mandolin brings to the music.

Explore phrasing, ornamentation and variation...
We focus on musicality, 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!

Enrollment is limited to 9 participants - intermediate level and above.  Email me ( if you're interested in attending.


2024 Camps and Workshops!

We're still in hybrid mode -- a combination of in-person and virtual events -- and that may become an ongoing thing.  Many folks are finding virtual immersion experiences can still be highly gratifying, and make workshops accessible when they may not have been before due to schedules and the difficulty and expense of travel! Each workshop or camp is always a completely different musical experience - each wonderful in different ways. There is nothing like immersion in a music camp environment to really get you fired up about your music!  Please check out my events page for more info about each camp and workshop.  Feel free to reach out if you want to discuss...and sign up early!

Virtual Lark                          February 2-4                                     virtual

Walker Creek Music Camp   April 11-14                               in person, Marin County, CA

Lark in Ennis                        May 18 - 24                               in person, Ennis, County Clare, Ireland

Lark Camp                           July 26 - August 3                     in person, Mendocino, CA 

Puget Sound Guitar Workshop August 17 - 23                      in person, Port Orchard, WA

Portal Irish Music Week        Sept 18-24                               in person   Kingston, NM

SW Mandolin Camp              Oct. 24-27                              in person   Kingston, NM

Image Credits

The fantastic photo of my mandolin on the home page was taken by Fionn O Lochlainn.
The photos of me playing on the About page and on this page were taken by Dana Dubinsky.
Thank you both for your beautiful work!

Many Thanks

Thank you Mike Considine for your guidance and fabulous work in putting together this site. You're the best!

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