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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 right hand, as well as to develop left hand patternings and fretboard knowledge.

During our continuing Covid-19 situation, all classes are over Zoom! 

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've been structuring the classes:

  • Each series is comprised of 5 classes
  • Classes meet every other week at the designated day and time
  • Classes are 75 minutes long
  • Classes are grouped by level
  • Recordings and transcriptions of tunes are provided well in advance of 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.

Spring 2022 CLASS SCHEDULE (see below for descriptions of levels)

         Class CRENSHAW - Wednesdays 11:00AM - 12:15PM Pacific Time
         Class Dates:
March 23, April 6 & 20, May 4 & 18

 INTERMEDIATE (two sections):

        Class GUAVA - Saturdays 1:30-2:45 Pacific Time
        Class Dates:
March 26, April 9 & 23, May 7 & 21

        Class PERSIMMON - Tuesdays 4:30 - 5:45 Pacific Time
        Class Dates:
March 15 & 29, April 12 & 26, May 10

ADV. INTERMEDIATE / ADVANCED (three sections):
         Class PAPAYA will meet Mondays 5:00-6:15PM Pacific Time
         Class Dates:
March 21, April 4 & 18, May 2 & 16

Class AVOCADO will meet Thursdays 12:30-1:45PM Pacific Time 
Class Dates:
March 31, April 14 & 28, May 12 & 26

Class LARKSPUR will meet Wednesdays 4:00-5:15PM Pacific Time
Class Dates:
March 23, April 6 & 20, May 4 & 18

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:


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. 

Early Intermediate

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 Workshops 2022!

April 29 - May 1

May 13 - 15

This optimist is going to bring back the weekend workshops this year!  These are a great opportunity for remote students to get in-person attention 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! I hold these at my home in Marin County, California, and will restrict participation to those who are fully vaccinated and boosted according to the current guidelines at the time of the workshops. Of course, should conditions at the time make such a gathering unwise, we'll have to postpone or decide to do it online. No-one will be on the hook for any payment, should this be the case.  Deposits will be refunded in full.

Please contact me with interest or any questions - 

Here's how I structure the workshops:

  * 7 group classes (75 minutes each) over two days

  * A 30-minute private lesson for each participant

  * Lunch, coffee, tea, and snacks on both days are included

  * Friday and Saturday night sessions

  * Price: $230

We gather on Friday evening for a session, followed by two full days of instruction on Saturday and Sunday.

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, waltzes and barndances. Recordings of tunes will be provided in advance so that we can focus on technique rather than on tune-learning.

Develop the necessary skills for playing Irish music on the mandolin...
We work on both right and left hand techniques to express the distinctive rhythmic forms, deliver the pulse of the music, and improve tone production and sustain. 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 be limited to 9 participants - intermediate level and above.


2022 Camps and Workshops!

So much is still in the planning stages, but a few things are confirmed, and more and more things will be solidifying in the coming weeks. We're still in hybrid mode -- a combination of in-person and virtual events. 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...and sign up early!

Confirmed for 2022 so far -- details and links coming soon -- just planting the seeds here...  :-)

Virtual Lark                   February 4-6                                     virtual

Fiddle Hell Online          April 7-10                                         virtual

Mandolin World Retreat (guest instructor)  March 18-20      in person   Benicia, CA

CCÉ North America Convention                April 21-24        in person   San Francisco, CA

Gulf Coast Cruinniú                                   June 10-12         in person   Houston, TX

CCÉ MAD Week                                       July 18 - 22        in person   Baltimore, MD

Puget Sound Guitar Workshop, Week 3      August 14-19     in person   Port Orchard, WA

Portal Irish Music Week                             Sept 22-26         in person   Kingston, NM

SW Mandolin Camp                                   Oct. 27-30        in person   Kingston, NM


Here is what happened in 2021despite it all!

March Mandolin Festival                         May 15-16, 2021                             *virtual*

Big Sur Fiddle Camp                               June 12-19, 2021                             in person!

Gulf Coast Cruinniú                               June 18-20, 2021                            *virtual*

California Coast Music Camp                 July 11-15, 2021                               in person!

Lark Camp                                            August 4-8, 2021                            *virtual*

Milwaukee Irish Fest Summer School      August 14-19, 2021                         *virtual*

O'Flaherty Irish Music Retreat                 October 21-24, 2021                     in person!

Southwest Mandolin Camp                      October 28-31, 2021                     in person!

Fiddle Hell Online                                   November 4-7, 2021                     *virtual*

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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