Music has always been an intergal part of my life but I have never understood the small nuances that make up a piece of music. I have always enjoyed listening to music and about 2 years ago I decided to stop listening and start playing. The mandolin was the instrument of choice and after a month of trying to stumble around and learn the instrument myself, I decided I needed an instructor. I was a little nervous about taking lessons at age 30 from a stranger, however, I was more than pleased when I met my instructor Joshua Bell.
Josh has an extraordinary gift for teaching the mandolin family (Mandolin, mandola, mandocello, and mandobass). He individualizes his instruction to suit each student in private lessons and also incorporates his students into ensembles at different levels. Josh eased me into the driver’s seat and provided me guidance toward’s my objectives. A gentle coach with a big heart and a quirky sense of humor, Josh recognizes and applauds all his student’s accomplishments. He has a vast knowledge of all kinds of music and has turned me from avid listener to an avid player. In just two years, he has helped me learn the mandolin inside and out as well as learn how to play the mandocello.
Music is now much more enjoyable as I understand all the little nuances that I didn’t before, and have learned two instruments in span of two years. If anyone has an inclination to learn how to play any instrument in the mandolin family, Josh Bell is the man to contact as he has extreme patience and excels on teaching to the needs of the individual.
I’ve taken mandolin lessons from Josh Bell for five years, since I was in seventh grade. Having Josh as a teacher helped keep me interested in mandolin throughout the busy years of high school. Josh is not only an excellent mandolinist but also a skilled teacher. He can clearly explain techniques from the very basic to advanced. He chooses exercises and songs based on the individual interests and weaknesses of the player. He helps his students not only play songs, but understand their nuances. On top of all this I’ve found taking lessons with Josh to be relaxing. Josh is a patient and kind teacher and does not place unnecessary pressures on his students. Because of this I have never felt mandolin lessons are just another things on my busy to-do list, but instead a space to express myself while having fun.
All my life I had wanted to play a musical instrument. It just was not possible when I was young and my efforts as an adult had been failures. I thought I did not have the gift to be very good at any instrument and had pretty much given up. Sometime in the fall of 2006 I heard a mandolinist playing Vivaldi on the radio and was captured by the sound. So I decided to give–it one last try and went to my local music store to purchase a mandolin and a teach-yourself mandolin book. After a couple of weeks, I realized that this was fun, that I was making some progress, but that I was not going to get much further than every other time, without a teacher. So I went on-line and did a Google search for mandolin teachers and that is how I found Josh Bell.
Over the four and a half years we have been working together, Josh has patiently helped me learn to play the mandolin. It has not been all fun and games; not just about tending a natural talent. There is hard work involved in learning to play music–even the most talented musician in the world works hard. I can not remember, tho, anything I have done that has been more rewarding. The hard work has been well worth while. Today I am playing in the LEsperance Mandolin Ensemble–there I have learned about the joy of making music with friends. A group of mandolinists together can play such wonderful stuff that I could never do by myself!
It is difficult to put into words what I have gained by learning to play the mandolin. I am able to play when I need to relax, I can play to give pleasure to friends. I can play when I need refreshment for myself. Music carries me into a different place.
In the process of learning to play mandolin, I’ve discovered a lot about success and failure and the value of perseverance and persistence, but mostly I’ve just plain had fun. Josh’s skill as a teacher has been a large factor in my learning. I have a doctorate, representing more than twenty years of formal education, and I don’t know that I’ve met more than one or two other teachers who had a better grasp of the process of learning and an ability to make lessons match a student’s learning style.
I would like to share some thoughts with you which are long overdue. Over four and a half years ago I approached you regarding the possibility of becoming your student. I explained that I had never studied an instrument or music in general. I wondered about the prudence of beginning such a quest at the age of sixty one. I explained that I wish to study Music as my first priority and learn to play the mandolin as the vehicle to take me on the journey.
What a unique, enriching and rewarding experience you have given me. I quickly learned that you knew my capabilities better than I and most importantly you know how to bring those capabilities to fruition. Look what you have given me. I read and understand music. I learn tunes by sight reading the sheet music. I learn songs by ear through you patient way of repetition. I have learned to play music in a way that reflect me, my mood at the time, the way I think it should be heard, not just the notes before me. You taught me that freedom. As my teacher the most priceless gift that you give me is the unshakeable confidence you have in my learning and achieving. Simply put, you know better than I what I can accomplish. That, my friend is a talent few teachers in my life have shown. Which bring us to the reason I have decided to share these personal thoughts with you. Somewhere along this journey you have become one of very few people in my life that is a trusted and revered friend.
It is long overdue for you to hear me say…Thank you.