Tom Mindte - Bluegrass Mandolin

Bluegrass mandolin was invented by Bill Monroe and redefined by Frank Wakefield. In this course, we will discover some techniques and compositions of these two masters of the instrument.  Attention will be given to the “building-blocks” that when put together, form the whole of each piece.  After becoming familiar with a couple of standards and their anatomy, the student will have the tools to build his or her own solos and compositions by incorporating the methodology of the masters.


About the course - Bluegrass Mandolin 2023


Billy in the Low Ground
Billy in the Low GrounD (simplified version)

Blue Grass Stomp variations

Blues in G - Monroe Style

Boston Boy

Kentucky Waltz
Kentucky Waltz - simplified

Minor Pentatonic Scales and an Example

New Camptown Races

Old Joe Clark (simplified version)

Raw Hide

Raw Hide (simplified version)

Red Wing

Red Wing (simplified version)

Scale Exercises with bluegrass fingering

Soldier's Joy

Soldier's Joy (simplified version)

Wednesday Night Waltz

You are My Sunshine (closed position ecercise)


My daddy was a bluegrass fan, so I got to go to festivals in the 1960s & 70s.,  and we had bluegrass records. One record set that we had at the house was the 70 song 4 lp Rebel set, (REB1473-76), released about 1965. There were 4 Buzz Busby songs on the set: 'Lost,' 'Me and  The Juke Box, 'That Guy's Gotta Go,' and 'Whose Red Wagon.' also on the set were Red Allen & Frank Wakefield dong 'Little Birdie' and 'Musician's Waltz' (in 4/4), & Frank Wakefield 's 'Rondo.' There were several songs featuring John Duffy & Smiley Hobbs on mandolin as well.  Of these, my favorite style was Buzz's. Daddy told me that he used to see Buzz & Pete Pike at the Pine Tavern in DC.

I finally got to meet Buzz in 1980 when he was playing at the Friendly Inn, near Baltimore. When I found out that he was still alive and pickin', I couldn't wait to get there, only to be disappointed to find find out that he was playing electric guitar. I asked Buzz if he still played mandolin and he said he would get it out of the car and bring it in for the next set. He asked me if I played and I indicated that I did. He brought the mandolin in, handed it to me and let me play the last set with him, so I never did get to hear him play mandolin that night, except for a few minutes by himself at the end of the night.

A couple of years later, Buzz started working with Tom Knowles in his band, Appalachian Reign at Shakey's Pizza in Rockville, MD. Joe Meadows & Lamar Grier were in the band too. After the show every Saturday, those guys were still itching to pick, so they would go out in the back parking lot and jam. Some of the pickers that attended the show, including me, would join them. That's where and when I got to know Buzz.

In about 1986, I was filling in for Dean Stoneman at Larry's Place in Mechanicsville in Southern Maryland. Buzz and Lucky Saylor came in, expecting Dean and were disappointed, I suppose, to find me taking his place. They sat at a table abutting the stage and every time I took a mandolin break, Buzz laughed with that cackling laugh that can be heard on some of his records. On our break, I sat at their table and asked Buzz why he was laughing at my mandolin breaks. He said, "Well - I just thought what you were attempting to do was humorous. Why don't you come by my place and I'll show you the right way to do it."
The next week, Bryan Deere and I went to Buzz's Place. I went to Buzz's at least once a week for the next ten tears, either by myself of with other musicians, to try to learn some of his stuff.

I met Frank Wakefield the night of John Duffey's viewing in 1996. I had scheduled a big picking party that night and there were folks coming from all over, so I couldn't go pay my respects to John. But Frank Wakefield was there and some of the mourners came to my party afterwards and brought Frank with them. For some reason, we hit it off and picked for several hours. I told him that I ran a record label and would like to record him. I had no idea that it even registered with him, so I was very surprised when he called and asked when we were going to do the record. The record didn't actually happen until about two years later, but he came down from New York state a couple of times to do workshops and a couple of shows between our first meeting and the first recording.
Frank Wakefield really showed me the right way to play the mandolin. He knows every Bill Monroe song and instrumental note-for-note. After a few lessons, I was able to get a little of what Monroe did, including the correct hand position and fingering, which made it a whole lot easier. I’m still working on the Wakefield style, which is beautiful, elegant and difficult to play.

All bluegrass mandolin players have been inspired by Bill Monroe, who really started this thing that has taken over so many of our lives.

Tom Mindte



Tom Mindte
302 Manakee Street Rockville, Maryland 20850
Musician, Producer, Recording Engineer, Teacher, Mentor seeks work as a music instructor/coach in music camp or other educational setting.
Summary of Qualifications:

  • Record producer and engineer: 38 years’ experience building and producing a record label
  • Scholar: Deep knowledge of current and emerging roots music trends as well as history
  • Performer and band leader: bluegrass, swing, old time and blues music.
  • Teacher: Music theory, mandolin  performance, bluegrass, swing & blues vocal lead and harmony.
  • Arranger: Ability to transcribe music from recordings and arrange multiple instrumental and vocal parts for bands using Finale software.

Proprietor, Patuxent Music (originally Patuxent Records) full-service studio and record label Rockville, Maryland  1984- present (Discography available on request)

Coleader, mandolin & accordion player, singer, Tex Rubinowitz & Tom Mindte’s Roots Rock ‘n’ Roll Band, 2017-present.

Mandolin player, singer, Rick Franklin & Tom Mindte blues duo 2013-present.

Mandolin player, singer, Esther Haynes & Tom Mindte swing duo 2017-present.

Mandolin player, singer, Tom Mindte, Mason Via & Ben Somerville roots music trio 2017-2019

Bandleader, mandolin player and lead/tenor singer, Patuxent Partners bluegrass band, 1983 - present.

Bandleader, guitarist, singer, Weems Creek Ramblers old time band, 1987-1991.

Coleader, mandolin  & accordion player, singer, co-arranger in Buffalo Nickel swing band, 1987-present.

Bass Player, singer in Buzz Busby & the Bayou Boys bluegrass band, 1990-1995.

Taught approximately 40 beginning, intermediate, and advanced mandolin students) in person at Patuxent Music and via Zoom and Skype, 2007-present (references on request)

Instructor in bluegrass mandolin and harmony singing, 2023 at Common Ground on the Hill. McDaniels College, Westminster MD.

I have developed a unique program of study for mandolin, that can be tailored for both reading and non-reading students. The program emphasizes proper technique, melody, scales, chords, and timing. Enough rudimentary theory is provided so the student can understand how the notes and chords fit the structure of each piece taught. I teach vocal harmony parts, as well.

2020 Washington Monument Award, DC Bluegrass Union
Featured in Bluegrass Unlimited, August 2022
Profiled in Acoustic Roots and Country Blues 2018
Nominee for IBMA Mentor of the Year, 2019

Masters Degree in Electrical Engineering, Capitol Technology University, 2007
Studied mandolin with Buzz Busby, Frank Wakefield, and Paul Glasse.
IBMA Leadership Bluegrass Program graduate
Completed courses at  Rare Book School, University of Virginia 1996-1998




Bluegrass Unlimited 2012

Bluegrass Unlimited 2022

Bluegrass Today

Baltimore City Paper

Montgomery County Sentinel

Acoustic, Folk & Country Blues



Raw Hide
Patuxent Partners

New Camptown Races
with Brennen Ernst

Pike County Breakdown
with Mark Delaney

McKinley's March
with Willie Marschner

Daybreak in Dixie
Housatonic Partners

Close By
with Frank Wakefield

Buzzin' with Buzz
Patuxent Partners




Weems Creek Ramblers


Barnett & Mindte


Patuxent Partners
I've Been Known to Cry


Patuxent Partners
There Music be another way to live


Patuxent Partners
Seven or Eleven


Stephens & Mindte
Old Time Duets


Tom Mindte


Tom Mindte & Jeremy
Stephens - Radio Favorites


Jeremy Stephens &
Tom Mindte
Live in Canada


Tom Mindte
Something I've Been Working On


Rick Franklin &
Tom Mindte
Dancing With My Baby


Tom Mindte & Mason Via


Tom Mindte, Mason Via & Ben Somerville


Tom Mindte, Mason Via & Ben Somerville
Christmas EP