Open Slots

I have the following evening slots open as of 10/10/19:

Wednesdays

  • 5-6pm, 
  • 8-9pm


If you would like to register for classes either of those times, please contact me!

Mandolin New England

Mandolin New England is a classical mandolin orchestra that performs compositions from the Renaissance period up to the 20th Century and beyond, as well as modern, local compositions by area musicians and composers. The Orchestra meets several times a year for a gathering where we rehearse, eat delicious food, play and perform. These are mandolinists from all walks of life that come together to do what they love most, play beautiful music.
“It’s fun, it’s incredibly fun, it’s thrilling … It gets your blood moving … it’s not just nine adults sitting in a room staring at notes on a page, it’s nine adults present together, breathing and listening and playing and singing. It’s a very beautiful thing.” If you or your ensemble would like to become a member of Mandolin New England, please join us by emailing your information to info@sweetmusicstudio.net. You will be added to the mailing list and invited to attend open concerts and other events. Rehearsals are held at Sweet Music Studio in Granby, MA. Any and all are welcome! More information about MNE: https://mandolinnewengland.comfacebook.com/groups/mandolinnewengland/

The Portland Collection: Tunes for Contradancing

For this ninth printing of The Portland Collection, the electronic files were completely recreated to make them compatible with today's computers. While there are no changes to the music in the book (other than the correction of a few notation mistakes), this update provided the opportunity to make some improvements in formatting. There are 7 titles changes (incorrect in prior printings). Alternate tune settings and chords are now on the same page as the original tune rather than in the Notes on the Tunes section in the back of the book. As a result of these two changes, the order of the tunes and pagination is different from earlier printings. The basic information about the book remains the same and follows below.

The Portland Collection: Contra Dance Music in the Pacific Northwest is a collection of 318 traditional and recently composed jigs and reels played for dances in Portland, Oregon. National standards and local favorites are included. The music derives from New England, Irish, Scottish, Quebecois, Appalachian, and English sources, all of which are included in the book. Chord suggestions are provided. There is an extensive commentary on each tune. Discography, bibliography, indices, and more are included.

Since its original publication in 1997, The Portland Collection has become the standard for contra dance musicians all across the United States and has also become popular among fiddlers of many other genres. The book is praised for its clear, readable format; its sturdy covers and binding; its informative, entertaining commentary; and especially for the repertoire itself. This music is suitable for any acoustic instrument. Beginners and accomplished musicians alike will find tunes that match their skill levels in this book.

There are two companion recordings for this book. On A Portland Selection 2 editors Susan Songer and Clyde Curley, joined by fiddler George Penk, play a representative cross section of the music in the book using a variety of tempos, harmonies, and other variations on the music. A Portland Play Along Selection is a 2-disc album of 97 tunes from both of the Portland Collection books engineered for ease of playing along. Fiddler Betsy Branch joins Clyde and Susan on this recording. Both of these recordings are for sale elsewhere on Amazon.com.

You can buy a copy of the Portland Collection Volumes 1,2,3 from us, only $28 plus $7 for postage.  You can pay online with your credit card by using our PayPal.me/SweetMusic link, or you can pick it up here at the studio in Granby.

Sweet Music on Facebook

We have a Facebook page of our own, simply called "Sweet Music Granby".  You can search for it using those keywords, or you can follow this link.  We use the page to update people with various events, classes, podcasts and other things we think you will find interesting.

See you on Facebook!

Guitar Lessons

Guitar Lessons
I have been teaching adults and teenagers how to play the acoustic guitar since 2006.  Lessons are approached from a traditional or folk music standpoint, in other words, the student will learn traditional Celtic or Acoustic Country music.

There are several ways you can take guitar lessons: 
  1. In person at my studio in Granby: Private lessons in Granby are sixty (60) minutes per week for adults, and 30 minutes per week for children under 9.  For children over 9 I offer a 40-45 minute lesson (depending on their readiness).
  2. online using SLACK: Online lessons are held through Slack (you will need a laptop with a webcam, or a separate webcam with a good microphone on your desktop computer).
  3. or for an extra fee, in the comfort of your home or office.
NOTE: I wrote a blog recently about what private lessons are like.  Read it here  Read and understand my Policies before coming for your first class.
    Beginning students will learn the basics: music theory and how to read music, how to count, meter and rhythm, keys and chords; how to hold the instrument and pick (or bow for violin players); how to practice scales, arpeggios and exercises; how to play basic melodies.  At some point, usually within a few weeks, beginning students may be ready for more advanced material which will be assigned at that time.

    Beginning students may want to also join the Adult Beginner's Group Class.  Check it out here.

    Advanced students that can already read and understand the basics of their instrument will study more advanced theory including the modes, advanced timing and rhythm, advanced chords, harmonization, improvisation, and will be introduced to a wide variety of music depending on the genre and style they have chosen to study.  For example, Classical musicians will be exposed to a variety of composers from the Renaissance Era up to the Romantic Era and everything in between.  Folk musicians will be exposed to a wide variety of western European traditional dance music styles including Celtic, Quebecois and Cape Breton music as well as American styles such as Bluegrass, Country, Western Swing, Jazz, Blues, and more.

    Advanced students may be eligible for either the Classical Group Class (Tuesdays at 7pm), the Celtic Group (Thursdays 7-9pm) or the Bluegrass Group (Fridays 7-9pm).  Some advanced players may want to play in all three.  There is a $5 discount per class for students that wish to join more than one as long as they attend on a weekly basis.  The discount does not apply for one-offs or trial periods.

    Violin & Fiddle Lessons

    Depending on your musical background, what instrument you want to learn (I teach violin, viola, mandolin, mandola, mandocello and guitar) and what style(s) of music you want to concentrate on, I will formulate a lesson plan tailored specifically for you.  I don't use the same books and materials for all of my students because everybody is different!

    I like to get the introductions/interview part over in emails before the first lesson, so we can dive right into it when you get here.  The things I need to know about you are
    • what is your musical background (if any)
    • can you read music
    • do you understand key signatures, time signatures, scales, arpeggios, chords, basic music theory
    • what instrument you want to learn
    • what style or styles of music you want to concentrate on 
    • do you own an instrument or will you want to buy one or rent one from me
    The 7 Church Modes
    Depending on your answers, the first lesson could cover the basics of scale theory including intervals, modes, circle of fifths, basic reading and an introduction to the care of your instrument.  Assignments will include buying the books you will need and some basic plucking of strings (mandolin), bow exercises (violin).

    Sample Violin/Fiddle Lesson

    Subsequent lessons will delve more deeply into scale and mode theory, circle of fifths, practice tips, first tunes.  As you improve, we will be able to learn more complicated tunes, I will determine what exercises you need to work on and give you lots more practice tips.

    Depending on the amount of time you have to practice every day, the average learning curve for the violin is 3 - 10 years.  3 years before you can play competently with others and 10 years before you will be able to play with confidence and beauty.  The learning curve for the mandolin is 1-3 years.  1 year before you can play with others, and 3 before you an join a mandolin orchestra or group.

    Mandolin Lessons

    Depending on your musical background, what instrument you want to learn (I teach violin, viola, mandolin, mandola, mandocello and guitar) and what style(s) of music you want to concentrate on, I will formulate a lesson plan tailored specifically for you.  I don't use the same books and materials for all of my students because everybody is different!

    I like to get the introductions/interview part over in emails before the first lesson, so we can dive right into it when you get here.  The things I need to know about you are
    • what is your musical background (if any)
    • can you read music
    • do you understand key signatures, time signatures, scales, arpeggios, chords, basic music theory
    • what instrument you want to learn
    • what style or styles of music you want to concentrate on 
    • do you own an instrument or will you want to buy one or rent one from me
    The 7 Church Modes
    Depending on your answers, the first lesson could cover the basics of scale theory including intervals, modes, circle of fifths, basic reading and an introduction to the care of your instrument.  Assignments will include buying the books you will need and some basic plucking of strings (mandolin), bow exercises (violin).

    Sample Mandolin Lesson

    Subsequent lessons will delve more deeply into scale and mode theory, circle of fifths, practice tips, first tunes.  As you improve, we will be able to learn more complicated tunes, I will determine what exercises you need to work on and give you lots more practice tips.

    Depending on the amount of time you have to practice every day, the average learning curve for the violin is 3 - 10 years.  3 years before you can play competently with others and 10 years before you will be able to play with confidence and beauty.  The learning curve for the mandolin is 1-3 years.  1 year before you can play with others, and 3 before you an join a mandolin orchestra or group.

    Looking for teachers that have online studios.

    The Sweet music studio is hiring teachers that have online music studios. If you do not have a studio, but you have experience teaching online, we would like to hear from you also.

    Musical instruments that we are looking for include woodwinds, brass, banjo, percussion, and voice.  

    Although we use slack with all of our teaching experiences, whatever software you have the most experience with is fine with us. Whatever works is the best way.

    The way it works, is much like other online services that cater to musicians, except we will handle all of the marketing and promotions related to you and your studio, all you do is pay a small monthly fee. You will be listed on the website, with links to your calendar and a registration page where students can learn more about you and sign up for a trial lesson.

    You set your own prices and you pay our fee via PayPal.

    To learn more and register your studio contact us.





    Podcasts

    I have been creating simple podcasts for about a year now.  If you'd like to listen to them, here's a link.  Today, I'm moving in a new direction and am setting up to invite guests.  As I'm learning with YouTube videos, people like product reviews more than tunes.  They prefer lessons over recordings, and they prefer interviews with interesting people most of all.  My plan is to set up podcasts and invite various musicians to be on the podcast. 

    As you can see from the picture, I have a small set up.  I'm using two SM54 microphones connected to a Europort EPA150.  For software, I am using Audacity on a Windows 10 laptop.  This is a very simple, yet affordable, solution for a small studio like mine. 


    I have friends who have much more complex (and expensive) systems.  For example my friend Brian Bender set up a $100k studio in his garage with all the bells and whistles.  I want to keep it low key until I figure out the kind of podcast people like.  

    Suggestions are welcome!



    Obligations, Loss and Liability

    One of the biggest losses a studio faces is when a student resigns or steps down.  It can be a big blow not only to the teacher, but to the other members of the studio.  Recently, two key members of Celtic Calamity, the Thursday night Celtic Group Class had to resign.  I'll not go into their personal details, suffice it to say that family and financial obligations always come first, and in my mind, you have to take care of those before you can do anything else.

    But while this recent loss is painful, it brings me back to the loss of another student in 2016.  This student had been with the studio since the early 1990s, participated in all of the groups offered, and was a participant and key player in the formation of Mandolin New England, the mandolin orchestra that assembles once a year with players from New York, Massachusetts and Rhode Island to perform in western Massachusetts.  When they said they were resigning from the studio, it was a horrible loss not only to me, but to the other group members, their spouses and in some cases their children.  To this day, I'm not sure how much they were aware of the positive impact they had, and the abrupt almost violent impact they had when they left.  The ripples are still spreading out and their absence is still felt, almost four years later.

    As a Studio, we are obligated to keep going, to shoulder the burdens and to continue to do our best to reach out to interested communities and continue to grow.  Each new group of students contributes such positivism and helps to further the participation and contributions of other members.  And, as the 21st century trundles on, we are forced to seek out methods of meeting those obligations in an increasingly online world.

    Twenty years ago, word of mouth was key.  Area stores that carried mandolin-family and violin-family instruments were critical sources of new business.  Now that most of those businesses, except for a few stalwarts, have closed or consolidated, private studios such as ours, are finding fewer and fewer students coming from referrals.  Fifteen years ago, MySpace was the primary social network, and source of many new students and musicians.  Facebook took over in 2006, competing on multiple levels.  Ten years ago, Craigslist was the primary source of new students and participants in the various jam sessions, sight-reading sessions and even new orchestra members.  This source has mostly dried up due to Craig Newmark's sale of the site to new owners who have switched to a payment option for small businesses and studios.  Nowadays even social media is a weak source of new musicians, as Facebook/Twitter/Google+ squeeze the attention of their members, removing potential eyeballs from pages and posts, and forcing new algorithms that don't work for small businesses.  Now a combination of word of mouth and social media are just about the sole methods for reaching new potential players, audiences and students.  Events still work for encouraging participation in programs, but they often do not result in paying members.

    Studios such as ours are facing a new attack from another direction.  Over the past six or seven years, liability insurance costs have skyrocketed.  No longer part of a home-owner's insurance, private studios such as ours are forced to take out additional liability insurance plans with a monthly payment that is as much if not more than a car payment!

    I do not mean to sound negative, and if this post reads that way, I apologize!  I am doing the best I can to keep the various programs alive and engaging, and the rewards of positive comments from participants and students are helpful, and technology has increased the conveniences available to existing and new students.  Skype and Slack, for example, are two software communications options for online lessons.  We use Slack, and many other studios use Skype.  Competition from "Free" lessons through YouTube and other social media is fierce, however, and using the words of one of my students, there's no THERE there.

    We continue to market online lessons however, because it does drive traffic to our events, YouTube channel and Podcast.  A new model is emerging, that of becoming a studio "Patron" through a monthly "contribution" is interesting.  We are experimenting with that.  So far it's a dud, but we will continue to try it out.  It obviously works for YouTube channels that provide content that people want.  The key is to know what content is most interesting currently and to provide more similar content.  For example, people spend more time watching and sharing the "product review" videos on my YouTube channel, than they do the music-related ones.  Obviously this means I should be creating more "product review" videos, and pushing the "subscribe" and "become a patron" buttons there.

    In order to maintain a successful small business, one must be constantly vigilant, flexible, have a thick skin, and be forward thinking.  To be a good teacher, one must be sensitive, open-minded and passionate.  Do the two compliment each other?  I've been doing this for more than 30 years, so I would say yes.


    Come listen to Mozart's Eine Kleine Nacht Musik at the Granby Senior Center, December 12th at 11:15am

    Classical Music Group Concert - Thursday 11:15am at the Granby Senior Center on Rte 202 - FREE CONCERT

    Adam R. Sweet would like to see mandolin jam sessions, popular in the early 20th century, make a comeback.  But for now, the music teacher and owner of Sweet Music Studio has founded the group, which has been performing together since 2014.

    According to the Classical Mandolin Society of America, it is likely the only mandolin orchestra in the Pioneer Valley.  “They said, ‘Look, we’re a dying breed. There are very few of us left,’” recalls Sweet, referring to the nonprofit organization, based in Minneapolis. He said the closest mandolin orchestra the society knew of is in Providence, R.I.

    Adults learn to play a musical instrument faster in a social setting, which is why I encourage my students to participate in the groups.  Not only is it a lot of fun, but there is a motivational aspect related to sharing that humans crave, satisfied in a group setting.  These groups are the longest-running and most successful of the studio.  Started in 2009, the Celtic and Classical groups have had some of the same members for that whole time!

    The concert is FREE.  Let's see you there!

    Classical Music Group - Porter Phelps 2018
    Classical Mandolin Group - Tuesdays 7-9pm

    Formerly known as the Advanced Mandolin group, the Classical Mandolin Group is now open to basses and guitars.  Students should have 2 or more years experience studying your instrument of choice, be able to sight-read, know advanced music theory including counting various meters and playing in a variety of keys.  This is a challenging group.  We are studying some very difficult pieces.  If you would like to join the group, but I feel you are not ready, I suggest taking private lessons for at least a year.

    Classical Mandolin Group - UMass Renaissance Ctr 2016

    Open Slots

    I have the following evening slots open as of 10/10/19: Wednesdays 5-6pm,  8-9pm If you would like to register for classes eith...