Skip to main content


Showing posts from July, 2013

Guide to getting into classical music (if you don’t know where to start)

Guide to getting into classical music (if you don’t know where to start)

Everyone loves classical music but not everyone knows where to start. This is the first of three articles designed to show you how to get into classical music and gain a deeper appreciation for it. There are six different periods of classical music, Medieval, Renaissance, Baroque, Classical, Romantic, and Twentieth Century. We will be focusing on the Baroque, Classical, and Romantic eras. In today’s blog, we will delve into the Baroque era and provide you with samples of music from the period.

Water-stained violin proven to be the one that played Nearer my God to Thee by Wallace Hartley as the Titanic sank is found

Water-stained violin proven to be the one that played Nearer my God to Thee by Wallace Hartley as the Titanic sank is found

It is the instrument that he played as the ship went down in the Atlantic, and that he later used as a buoyancy aid once Titanic went down.

The violin was discovered only by chance when the son of an amateur musician found it in his attic. It was given to his mother by her violin teacher and was left gathering dust.

The discovery was almost too good to be true, prompting experts to have the relic forensically examined by some of the most revered scientific bodies in Britain.

Now, after seven years of testing at a cost of tens of thousands of pounds, the water-stained violin has been proven to be the one played by Hartley on the night of the tragedy.

These pictures show how incredibly well-preserved the rose wood violin is despite its age and it being exposed to the sea for 10 days after the sinking.

There are two long cracks on its body that are said to have been…

Zen and the Violin: Ten Tips for the Journey

Zen and the Violin: Ten Tips for the Journey
by Terez Rose

So, I’m a meditator, and that’s a good thing to be in today’s world. I’m pretty lame at setting time aside to meditate on a daily basis, however, which is why I head out a few times a year to go on private, silent retreats. Last May’s retreat was particularly effective, for whatever reason, and I returned with greater clarity that has served me well since. I recently compiled an article for the dance community, comparing Zen precepts and my meditation practice to my ballet practice. There are a surprising number of similarities: staying focused on what’s unfolding right there and then; not being distracted by nagging thoughts; remaining wholly present physically and mentally. Then there are the not-so-Zen facets of ballet. It’s all about beauty, grace, the illusion of perfection. It’s competitive. There is an image in your mind you’re doggedly striving for, that you can’t seem to ever reach. Ego, desire, dissatisfaction all h…

A Healthy Foundation

A Healthy Foundation
by Claire Allen

Syllabification: (foun·da·tion)
Pronunciation: /foun'daSH?n/noun
*(often foundations) the lowest load-bearing part of a building, typically below ground level.
*a body or ground on which other parts rest or are overlaid
*an underlying basis or principle for something
Creating a healthy foundation is one of the most important and crucial aspects of learning to play the violin. In the first years of violin teaching, my goal is to build fundamental musical skills as my students learn how to listen to music critically and to discern what makes a good sound and to build fundamental technical skills, which means that I focus a lot on how to hold the instrument and bow.

Playing the violin doesn't involve motions that are inherently natural or easy for the human body. It's not symmetrical at all, which means that we have to do different things with the right and left sides of our bodies. It takes years to feel completely natural wi…

How To Protect Your Instruments At Music Festivals, While Camping, or Traveling

How To Protect Your Instruments At Music Festivals, While Camping, or Traveling by Adam R Sweet
The Summer is a wonderful time for music!  What with music festivals, outdoor concerts and events, plus vacationing with the family and camping with the kids, there's always the opportunity to get out the mandolin, fiddle or guitar and pick a few tunes, sing some songs.
So how do you protect your instrument from the inevitable weather/sun/movement damage?
It's not easy!  But here are some tips: Find a shady spot in the tent/car/camper - seems simple enough, but the darker the better.  Keep the instrument or case wrapped in a space blanket - you can get them from any good camping store, or on Amazon.comIf backpacking or camping with your instrument, make sure you keep it in its case, then cover that in a space blanket and/or poncho.  Most cases are almost air-tight these days.  If yours is not, you might want to upgrade to one that is.  It will keep moisture out and protect the instru…

Daily Practice - A Reminder, Checklist

Daily Practice - A Reminder, Checklist
by Adam R Sweet

It's absolutely critical that you practice at least something every day!  What you practice is also critical.  Just playing a few tunes, or jamming with friends is only one part of daily practice (the fun part!).

Divide your practice time into three "chunks" of equal length.  That means, if you practice 30 minutes a day, each chunk will be 10 minutes.

First Chunk: A Daily Scale "Set"

each day play a different scale set from the circle of fifths (if you're practicing bluegrass music), otherwise a different tonic set using the 7 church modespractice 2 octaves, use 4th fingers alwaysremember where to shift when playing in 3rd and 4th positionsfiddlers: practice the 4 bowing patterns with each scalemandolinists: practice the 5 picking patterns with each scalecircle of fifths: practice the major AND the relative minor with each setmodes: practice all 7 modespractice the arpeggios for each scale (1,3,5,8) Secon…

Western Mass Bluegrass!

Western Massachusetts has always been a great place for bluegrass music.  In the 1970s, there were the first bluegrass festivals: Berkshire Mountain Bluegrass Festival, Pickin In The Pines and Falcon Ridge.  Later, in the 1980s, the Iron Horse became a destination spot for bluegrass musicians that were touring through the area.  And all through the 1990s and early 2000s, bluegrass bands and fans have been keeping it real and live in the Pioneer Valley!

And we're doing our part!  Come to the Third Sunday Bluegrass Jam and Potluck Dinner!

Held the third Sunday of every month at the home of Emily and Adam R Sweet in South Hadley, MA.

It meets the Third Sunday of every month at 5pm. If the weather is nice, we are outside in back (either on the porch or on the grass under the trees). If the weather is not so nice, we are upstairs in the studio. Take the stairs to the left of the garage and go in the door at the top. There's limited space, so first come first served and all that!


DNA shows Irish people have more complex origins than previously thought

(by Marie McKeown)

The blood in Irish veins is Celtic, right? Well, not exactly. Although the history many Irish people were taught at school is the history of the Irish as a Celtic race, the truth is much more complicated, and much more interesting than that ...

Research done into the DNA of Irish males has shown that the old Anthropological attempts to define 'Irish' have been misguided. As late as the 1950s researchers were busy collecting data among Irish people such as hair colour and height, in order to categorise them as a 'race' and define them as different to the British. In fact British and Irish people are closely related in their ancestry.

Research into Irish DNA and ancestry has revealed close links with Scotland stretching back to before the Ulster Plantation of the early 1600s. But the closest relatives to the Irish in DNA terms are actually from somewhere else entirely!

The earliest settlers came to Ireland around 10,000 years ago, in Stone Age times. …

Summer at the Studio: The New Sweet Music Studio is finished!

The New Sweet Music Studio is finished!

Today was the last day the contractors were here.  They put in the last few pieces of siding, cleaned up and made a final inspection.

We are very pleased with the professionalism of Kashima Builders.  Toshi Kashima, owner, has been a joy to work with!  Dedicated, great at communication, and came in under budget for the total project.  He did a lot of little extra side projects while he was here, coming up with interesting solutions for challenges.  We're very pleased and can recommend him for just about any construction project without reservation!

The New Studio will be used for private and group lessons in the evenings, and for demonstrating musical instruments, supplies and accessories to customers during the day.

We ask that customers please remove their shoes when entering so as not to scuff the new flooring!

Also, since there is no waiting area, Students, please wait in your cars until the time of your lesson.  We will be mindful of th…

Musicians Shouldn't Be Desperate For Booking Agents. There's An Easier Way

I've been booking gigs for bands since I opened my Talent Agency in 1998.  Every time I open my mouth about what I do, bands and musicians fall all over themselves in an attempt to get me to book them gigs.  But here's the problem the way I see it.  Most bands know themselves and their capabilities very well.  But they are not good at identifying and articulating themselves, they don't know how to build their own brand.  The successful bands do.

Musicians!  You shouldn't be desperate to find a booking agent.  There's an easier way!  All you need to do is identify yourself, to "create your brand", then package your brand by identifying a few easy to remember points about it.  Once you have done that, it's easy to sell yourself!

Let me give you an example:

Jim had a jazz trio consisting of bass, piano and drums.  They loved to get together on Friday nights and play tunes out of the Real Book: "Misty", "Autumn Leaves", "Donna Lee…

Further Irish History Discussion

Once the Vikings began to raid in 795, Ireland was permanently occupied, wholly or partly, by foreigners.

The Danes were followed by the Anglo-Normans in the twefth century. During the sixteenth century the English imperial grip tightened, and relations were further embittered by the Reformation.

Protestant England kept Catholic Ireland under subjection, sometimes incredibly brutal, until after the First World War.