John Duffey - Bluegrass Mandolinist & Singer

John Duffey was known for his high-lonesome tenor, brilliantly innovative mandolin playing, and the important part he played in establishing the Seldom Scene on the highest levels of bluegrass stardom and accomplishment. He has also been credited, particularly amongst his fellow musicians, as one of the great popularizers and missionaries of bluegrass. His choice of material and refined mode of presentation helped make this basically rural music not only acceptable, but highly desirable among the urban masses. One can only presume that if Duffey had not succumbed to a heart attack in the late '90s he would have been tremendously pleased with yet another resurgence in the music's popularity that seemed to come along with the new millennium.

A Washington native, Duffey started the Seldom Scene in 1971 after about a decade of playing with Charlie Waller & the Country Gentlemen, a bluegrass group from the same general region. The mandolinist was also a musical instrument repairman, a profession that managed to provide him with an alternative to being on the road all of the time, something with which he apparently had very little patience. One reason to form the new band was the possibility for it to work regularly without straying too far from the Washington, D.C./Virginia/Maryland axis. Certainly there would be gigs enough within a two- or three-hour driving ratio, especially with bluegrass coming off a peak in new popularity from the late '60s. He enlisted only other players whose demanding day jobs would prevent them from whining about wanting to go on long road trips. These original players were physician John Starling, mathematician Ben Eldridge, graphic artist Mike Auldridge, and National Geographic mapmaker Tom Gray. Also known as mandolinist John Duffey, banjo player Ben Eldridge, guitarist John Starling, bassist Tom Gray, and Dobro player Mike Auldridge. But the part-time nature of each of these players' musical focus in the early '70s would have probably dictated that they would have listed their day jobs first. The group was even called the Seldom Scene as a joke about the fact that they wouldn't be seen much on-stage. What happened was the opposite. By staying right out on the edge in an age of great musical adventurism among the audience, the group became much in demand, as well as producing some of the best-selling progressive bluegrass records in the history of the genre. Another part of Duffey's success as a member of co-operative bands was his belief that democracy worked in music ensembles, regardless of whether it seemed to be working in society. The mandolinist's philosophy seems to have been borne through his loyal membership to just two different bands over the 40 years of his career. He grew up in a musical family, although what he was exposed to at first was about the farthest one could get from bluegrass. His father was a professional singer who at times worked for the Metropolitan Opera. As a young man, Duffey became attracted to the music of Appalachian migrants in the area. He was not particularly concerned that amongst the classical or so-called legitimate music crowd such sounds had very little status. Despite his own lack of enthusiasm for so-called hillbilly music, Duffey senior realized that his son seemed to have inherited an exceptional singing voice, with a range of about four octaves. His father went ahead and taught him the voice and breathing techniques of a classical opera singer. Duffey continued his love affair with Appalachian music, but since he realized he wasn't in any way a native of that area, he focused on expanding the concept of the music to include people like him. He created new repertoire from modern and ancient sources and developed innovative vocal harmonies. What he did was definitely pleasing to the large new bluegrass audiences, although many purists found the new developments and outlooks being expressed in the music revolting. The controversy became part of the reason crowds packed several long weekly house band stints the group maintained in the D.C. area. Members of Congress in suits would be rubbing noses with college students, as well as disgruntled members of the bluegrass "walking dead," (i.e., those who wanted everything to be done the way Bill Monroe done done it).

Duffey's professional career began with a car crash in 1957 that injured mandolinist Buzz Busby. The banjo player in the same band as Busby, Bill Emerson put out a bee that he was looking for a substitute mandolinist so the band wouldn't have to cancel its schedule of club dates. In his search for potential players, Emerson found both young guitarist Waller and Duffey, as well. It was the mandolinist who came up with a name for the new group. He pointed out that many bluegrass bands at this time were coming up with names like the Mountain Boys. "We're not mountain boys," he said. "We're gentlemen." Duffey wound up staying with the Country Gentlemen for about a decade, as the group rode the new wave of folk music thrill-seeking. Many of the innovations of the Seldom Scene are foreshadowed by this earlier group, such as a diverse selection of material that could include gospel, jazz, and folk influences. By the late '60s, Duffey was working as an instrument repairman at an Arlington music store when the Seldom Scene was formed. In addition to much research, collecting, and arranging old songs and poems for the group, Duffey also composed his own music. Some of his best pieces include "The Traveler," which was dedicated to his wife, and the eerie "Victim to the Tomb."

As this group became more and more popular, Duffey's imposing stage personality came more and more to the front. Known for being able to shut the lid on just about any heckler, Duffey has been described as one of the most riotous personas in bluegrass, famous for his politically incorrect jokes and onstage shenanigans. Although the pre-bluegrass genre of old-time music was known for crazy stage shows and broad humor, bluegrass by this time had developed into a style most often represented visually by bandmembers who stood straight as a board, their faces expressionless no matter what they were picking. And the new comic approach presented by Duffey was much more sophisticated than the laugh-grabbing days of blackened teeth and hillbilly yuck yucks.

Duffey, along with former boss Waller and the other original Country Gentlemen, were inducted into the International Bluegrass Music Associations' Hall of Fame. The Seldom Scene continued to be active up to the end, playing in Englewood, New Jersey, just days before Duffey's death. They were also working on arrangements for a new recording, including an adaptation of the Delta blues number "Rollin' and Tumblin'," for a progressive bluegrass band, of course. The posthumous Always in Style project was released under Duffey's name on the Sugar Hill label. Although the best recorded legacy of the mandolinist's work are on the recordings of the groups he was in, he also pops up here and there as a session picker, including on a Linda Ronstadt album.

Celtic Music Group - Thursdays at 7pm

The Celtic Music group meets Thursdays at 7pm.  The group has compiled six "sets" of material, usually traditional celtic dance music (jigs, reels, hornpipes, polkas) and song.  Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, the group performed each set at a local venue.  Until we can play in person again, we meet online using a Google platform called "Meet".  Each member of the group suggests a jig, reel, hornpipe, polka, slip jig and O'Carolan tune.  The group votes on the tunes they want to learn and pick the tunes out of those voted highest.  

We are compiling tunes now for the 7th set.  I've asked students to suggest their tunes in the #celticgroup channel on  If you would like to join the group, email to get an invitation link.

How Online Group Classes Work

Online Group Classes are announced in the appropriate Slack channel (if you're not on the Sweet Music Slack, you need to be registered for weekly private lessons to receive an invitation) usually an hour or so prior to the start of the group (7pm).  Prior to clicking on the invitation link, make sure you have optimized your connection.  You will need a good separate microphone, quality headphones or speakers, a metronome and a LAN connection.  Once you are set up for a great connection, click the invitation link, then the green (or teal) "Join" button.  You will be using an app called Google Meet.  For those of you who were online in the early 20's, you might remember similar products offered under the Google brand such as Wave, + and Hangouts.  Meet is Google's alternative to the popular Chinese-owned product Zoom.  Check it out here.  If you're familiar with Zoom, then you will know how to use Meet.  There are some significant differences.  Meet doesn't steal your personal information, doesn't sell it on the black market and won't install spyware on your computer.  I personally think the sound quality is also better. 

LAN Connection
Due to the slight delay or "lag" in transmission of image and sound over the internet, you can optimize your connection by making sure that you're directly connected to your internet modem with a LAN cable.  If you don't have one, you can buy one from Walmart or Amazon.  They are not expensive.  Measure the distance from your computer to the modem and then give yourself an extra six feet (just in case).  A direct connection can be 10 times faster than a wifi connection, which will decrease any lag you might be experiencing over Wifi.  If you would like help setting up your computer and modem, let me know!

Good Separate Microphone
All laptops and webcams come with some kind of an internal microphone, depending on the laptop/webcam brand, the quality can range from ok to not bad, but never good or very good.  To optimize your sound input, you will need a good microphone.  I recommend the "Blue" microphone from Snowball, but there are others.  Read the reviews on Consumer Reports' website and pick something you like.  Make sure it's a USB connection because some microphones plug into a separate mic jack, and some are bluetooth. 

Quality Headphones or Speakers
All laptops come with speakers.  Some desktop pc's also come with them.  I recommend the Jeecoo USB Pro Gaming Headset, but there are others.  Make sure you get a USB connection, and cups that go over the ears.  You can also get a set of quality external speakers with subwoofer.  Harmon Kardon is a good brand.

There are decent apps offered for iPhone and Android.  You can also buy a standalone version that sits on your desk.  I like the mechanical ones offered by Gleam so I can take it outside or on the porch where there's no power. 

Online Group Classes start at 7pm and go for about an hour.  They may go slightly over depending on a variety of factors, but plan for an hour minimum.

During the class, each person will take a turn playing their part for a predetermined length of time.  For example, in the Celtic class, each person will play the tune once through.  In the Classical Mandolin class, each person will play approximately 20 measures.  While you are waiting your turn, you will have your microphone muted so that you can play along with the person who is playing at that time.  They, in turn, will play along with you.  Due to the slight delay/lag, there really is no other way to do it.  But this way, members have an opportunity to socialize with others, to "play" music with others and to work with a metronome, which is a good skill to have.  (When we finally can return to some sense of normalcy after the COVID19 pandemic has subsided, we will be that much more precise).

NEW Online Lesson/Group Class Rates, Communication, Platforms and Misc

Adam Sweet
As you know, all lessons and group classes are now online.  I use for 1/1 lessons and all communications with students.  I teach mandolin, violin/fiddle, viola, mandocello, mandola, guitar, electric bass, octave mandolin, Irish bouzouki and Irish banjo.  I specialize in classical/chamber music from the Renaissance period up til the Classical period, Celtic, Bluegrass, Klezmer and Folk genres.  All payments and donations are accepted through Venmo.  Please consider becoming a Patron, and sponsoring the work I do through Patreon!
  • 30 minute weekly lessons - 1/1 private lesson with me on your instrument of choice, unlimited weekly Q&A and option to participate in online group classes: $40/ea
  • 60 minute weekly lessons - 1/1 private lesson with me on your instrument, unlimited Q&A during the week and option to participate in online groups offered: $75/ea
  • 15 minute "tune up" - any time we both have time, scheduled in advance.   This is an opportunity to check in online and go over something specific related to weekly practice, gear questions/tutorials, software questions/tutorials, etc.: $20
  • 60 minute weekly group class - $10/ea, minimum 3 people per group
  • Weekly Workshops - Free/Donations Accepted
  • Master Classes - TBA
  • "Live" Performances - TBA
an early mandolin class performance!
If you are a current student, but are not using Slack, please contact me right away to get your invitation!  For those of you who don't know what Slack is, it's kind of like Facebook Messenger on's a robust communication platform that allows for phone and video communications, text, messaging, all kinds of media sharing, discussion and social networking within our community.  The #general channel is for communications with the whole studio.  Each member has an individual channel which is private and end-to-end encrypted, so it cannot be "hacked".  The other community channels are
  • beginnermandolin - this is the channel for people who are participating in the Monday night workshop for mandolin beginners, YouTube LIVE at 7pm.  Look to this channel and the Sweet Music Studio Facebook group for invitation URLs.  Free to join, donations accepted
  • introtofiddle - this is the channel for people who are participating in the Tuesday night workshop for fiddlers, YouTube LIVE at 7pm.  Look to this channel and the Sweet Music Studio Facebook group for invitation URLs and other information.  Free to join, donations accepted.
  • klezmer - this is the channel for discussions relating to Klezmer music, a potential group and master classes offered by professionals.  Free to join.  Master classes will have a fee TBA.
  • testing - this is the channel for members who are helping me test various platforms and networks to find the optimum equipment and software for online meetings, classes and groups.  feel free to join if you are interested in gear and computers
  • celticgroup - this is invitation only for our weekly Thursday at 7pm Celtic Group Class.  You should be a weekly student in good standing to participate.  There is a $10/person/week fee to participate
  • mandolingroup - this is invitation only for our weekly Wednesday at 7pm Classical Mandolin Group Class.  There is a $10/person/week fee to participate.  This class is the core of Mandolin New England, our 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that forms a couple times a year for concerts in western Mass., and Providence, RI.  Obviously due  to COVID19, there won't be any concerts any time soon, but we are working on online performance/concert options.  Stay "tuned"!
Mandolin New England @ Hawks & Reed, Greenfield MA
For group classes, meetings of more than 2 people, I use Google Meet.  If you are familiar with Zoom, then you will find Meet easy to set up and use.  You don't need a Google account to use it.  I will share the URL with the appropriate channel prior to the group time.  All you have to do is click the URL in the channel, wait for the Meet platform to load in your browser, and then click the JOIN button.  Make sure your gear is optimized: microphone, webcam, computer, etc.  Ask if you have questions.  We use Google meet for the Classical Mandolin Group (Wed at 7pm) and the Celtic Group (Thu at 7pm).

Jim Bunting (Irish bouzouki), Claudine Langille (Irish banjo), Adam Sweet (Irish fiddle)
For workshops, masterclasses and other "live" performances, I use YouTube LIVE.  You don't need a YouTube account to watch the events, but if you want to chat with me during the workshop, ask questions, you will need a YouTube channel.  Don't worry, they are free.  Ask me how to set it up.  Soon I will be announcing a master class series featuring professional musicians from all over the world.  Watch this website for links and other information!  Workshops are free, donations accepted. Masterclasses with professional musicians will be fee-based as will live performances.

I'm at your mercy

All professional musicians are in the same boat.  We are all trying hard to recoup  our losses by teaching online, providing workshops or master classes using Facetime, YouTube Live or some other method.  Speaking personally, 80% of my annual income comes from weddings, St Paddy's Day events, concerts and other live performances in front of real audiences.  Since the coronavirus and social distancing has made this impossible, I am asking my friends family and fans to please, if you have a few extra bucks lying around, share it with me so that I can feed my family and pay the mortgage!  Hopefully this pandemic will be over soon and we can get back to normal life.

Thank you,
Adam Sweet
Sweet Music Studio
Become a Patron!  From $1 a month
Pay via Venmo

How to Donate, Become a Patron, or Pay for Lessons

If you appreciate what work I've done either on my blog or any Workshops or YouTube videos I've posted, a DONATION would be greatly appreciated.

To donate:
  • If using PayPal, the best way to do it is follow the instructions on this page.  
  • If using Venmo, the best way to do it is to follow instructions on this page
Become a Patron
If you would like to support me on a monthly basis, you become a Patron, and follow the link on the sidebar to my Patreon page.  Here are some additional pointers.

Pay for Lessons
I would like all students to use Venmo when paying for lessons.  If this is the first time you are using it, please follow the instructions to download the app to your phone and set it up here.  If I am not in your contacts list, let me know and I will send you my contact information.


Tonight: Advanced Mandolin Classical Group @ 7pm

If you're a current student in good standing you are welcome to attend the Advanced Mandolin Classical Group which meets Wednesday nights at 7pm.

This is the core of Mandolin New England, a 501(c)3 nonprofit mandolin orchestra that performs free concerts and master classes in western Massachusetts, Rhode Island and the Boston area.

Currently the group  is working on the Bach Double Concerto originally written for two viols and continuo.  We are playing it with 2 mandolins and continuo.  Continuo generally refers to string instruments that play the rhythm and echo parts of the melody, but are not part of the solo.  In a chamber group, it would be comprised of violins, violas, cellos, bass and harpsichord; or perhaps Viols*  and harpsichord, depending on the composer.  For example, J.S. Bach composed a fair number of pieces for viols*

J. S. Bach "Lost Portrait"

The Concerto for Two Violins in D minor, BWV 1043, also known as the Double Violin Concerto (Doppelkonzert für zwei Violinen), is one of the most famous works by Johann Sebastian Bach and considered among the best examples of the work of the late Baroque period.  Bach may have written the concerto between 1717 and 1723 when he was the Kapellmeister at the court of Anhalt-Köthen, Germany, though the work's surviving performance materials were created for the concert series that Bach ran as the Director of the Collegium Musicum in Leipzig and are dated c. 1730–31.  The concerto is characterized by a subtle yet expressive relationship between the violins throughout the work. In addition to the two soloists, the concerto is scored for strings and basso continuo. The musical structure of this piece uses fugal imitation and much counterpoint.  Here is a link to the score.

The concerto comprises three movements:

  1. Vivace
  2. Largo ma non tanto
  3. Allegro

The group is also working on a string quartet of Mozart's commonly referred to as The Hunt.  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's String Quartet No. 17 in B-flat major, K. 458, nicknamed "The Hunt", is the fourth of the Quartets dedicated to Haydn. It was completed in 1784.  Here is a link to the score

 It is in four movements:
  1. Allegro vivace assai
  2. Menuetto and Trio. Moderato
  3. Adagio, in E-flat major
  4. Allegro assai
Neither Mozart nor Artaria called this piece "The Hunt." "For Mozart's contemporaries, the first movement of K.458 evidently evoked the 'chasse' topic, the main components of which were a 6/8 time signature (sometimes featuring a strong upbeat) and triadic melodies based largely around tonic and dominant chords (doubtless stemming from the physical limitations of the actual hunting horns to notes of the harmonic series)." According to Irving, Mozart's first intention was to conclude with a polonaise and sketched 65 bars.

Its popularity is reflected in its use in various films, such as The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mystery Date, The Royal Tenenbaums and Star Trek: Insurrection.

The Advanced Mandolin Classical Group has performed this piece once before during a concert at the Porter Phelps-Huntington Museum in Hadley, Massachusetts on September 17th, 2018.  Ah those pre-Coronavirus days when we all took for granted that playing together in an intimate group setting was commonplace and would never leave us.  Those were the days!

The group will be meeting at 7pm online in a Meet.Google.Com session.  If you are a current student and would like to attend, let Adam know through Slack and you will be invited to the closed Slack channel.  You must be a regular weekly student to attend this group.

Viol da Gamba (viol of the leg)
* The viol (/ˈvaɪəl/), viola da gamba[a] (Italian: [ˈvjɔːla da ˈɡamba]), or informally gamba, is any one of a family of bowed, fretted and stringed instruments with hollow wooden bodies and pegboxes where the tension on the strings can be increased or decreased to adjust the pitch of each of the strings. Frets on the viol are usually made of gut, tied on the fingerboard around the instrument's neck, to enable the performer to stop the strings more cleanly. Frets improve consistency of intonation and lend the stopped notes a tone that better matches the open strings. Viols first appeared in Spain in the mid to late 15th century and were most popular in the Renaissance and Baroque (1600–1750) periods. Early ancestors include the Arabic rebab and the medieval European vielle, but later, more direct possible ancestors include the Venetian viole and the 15th- and 16th-century Spanish vihuela, a 6-course plucked instrument tuned like a lute (and also like a present-day viol)[4][5] that looked like but was quite distinct from (at that time) the 4-course guitar (an earlier chordophone).

Although bass viols superficially resemble cellos, viols are different in numerous respects from instruments of the violin family: the viol family has flat rather than curved backs, sloped rather than rounded shoulders, c holes rather than f holes, and five to seven rather than four strings; some of the many additional differences are tuning strategy (in fourths with a third in the middle—similar to a lute—rather than in fifths), the presence of frets, and underhand ("German") rather than overhand ("French") bow grip.

All members of the viol family are played upright (unlike the violin or the viola, which is held under the chin). All viol instruments are held between the legs like a modern cello, hence the Italian name viola da gamba (it. "viol for the leg") was sometimes applied to the instruments of this family. This distinguishes the viol from the modern violin family, the viola da braccio (it. "viol for the arm"). A player of the viol is commonly known as a gambist, violist /ˈvaɪəlɪst/, or violist da gamba. "Violist" shares the spelling, but not the pronunciation, of the word commonly used since the mid-20th century to refer to a player of the viola. It can therefore cause confusion if used in print where context does not clearly indicate that a viol player is meant, though it is entirely unproblematic, and common, in speech.

Viols come in seven sizes: "pardessus de viole" (which is relatively rare, exclusively French and did not exist before the 18th century), treble (in French dessus), alto, tenor (in French taille), bass, and two sizes of contrabass (also known as a violone), the smaller one tuned an octave below the tenor (violone in G, sometimes called great bass or in French grande basse) and the larger one tuned an octave below the bass (violone in D).

Online YouTube LIVE Workshops

Online Youtube LIVE Workshops
This is the new format in this time of Covid-19 and social distancing!  Workshops will be held every week on YouTube LIVE until we are able to gather again.

The Workshop URLs will be posted in the SWEET MUSIC STUDIO Facebook group .  If you are not a member of that Facebook group you should go to that page and request to join.  You will be accepted as long it looks like you are a human with no bad intentions.  Anyone can join.
Workshop URLs will be posted in the group prior to the online event.  Here is a list:
  1. Mondays - mandolin for beginners
  2. Tuesdays - introduction to fiddle
  3. Wednesdays - advanced mandolin classical music (students only)
  4. Thursdays - celtic group (students only)
If you appreciate what work I've done either on my blog or any Workshops or YouTube videos I've posted, a DONATION would be greatly appreciated.

To donate:
  • If using PayPal, the best way to do it is follow the instructions on this page.  
  • If using Venmo, the best way to do it is to follow instructions on this page
Become a Patron
If you would like to support me on a monthly basis, you become a Patron, and follow the link on the sidebar to my Patreon page.  Here are some additional pointers.

Pay for Lessons
I would like all students to use Venmo when paying for lessons.  If this is the first time you are using it, please follow the instructions to download the app to your phone and set it up here.  If I am not in your contacts list, let me know and I will send you my contact information.

Questions?  Contact us

(When life is normal these sessions take place in person at our studio in Granby, MA.)

For our Chinese friends:

在线YouTube LIVE讲习班

这是Covid-19和社交疏远时代的新格式! 每周都会在YouTube LIVE上举办研讨会,直到我们再次聚会为止。

研讨会URL将发布在SWEET MUSIC STUDIO Facebook组中。 如果您不是该Facebook组的成员,则应转到该页面并请求加入。 只要您看起来像是一个没有恶意的人,您就会被接受。 任何人都可以加入。
研讨会URL将在在线活动之前发布到组中。 这是一个清单:

您可以在会议期间通过Paypal(在此处登录)代替小费,直接发送至Sweet Music的Paypal电子邮件。 选择“发送给您信任的人”,这样一来,他们的费用就不会增加。*

这就是我们在艰难的巡回演出和表演音乐家期间如何帮助Sweet Music的方法。



有什么问题吗 联系我们


For Our Korean Friends:
온라인 YouTube 라이브 워크샵

이것은 Covid-19와 사회 소외의 시대를위한 새로운 형식입니다! 우리가 다시 만날 때까지 주간 세미나가 YouTube LIVE에서 열립니다.

세미나 URL은 SWEET MUSIC STUDIO Facebook 그룹에 게시됩니다. 이 Facebook 그룹의 회원이 아닌 경우이 페이지로 이동하여 가입을 요청해야합니다. 악의가없는 사람처럼 보이는 한, 귀하는 받아 들여질 것입니다. 누구나 가입 할 수 있습니다.
온라인 행사 전에 세미나 URL이 그룹에 게시됩니다. 이것은 목록입니다 :
월요일 초급 만돌린
화요일-바이올린 소개
금요일 블루 그래스 소개

미팅 중 팁 대신 Paypal (여기에서 로그인)을 사용하여 Sweet Music의 Paypal 이메일 : sweetmusic@protonmail.com으로 직접 보낼 수 있습니다. 비용이 증가하지 않도록 "신뢰할 수있는 사람에게 보내기"를 선택하십시오. *

투어와 공연이 어려운 뮤지션에서 Sweet Music을 돕는 방법입니다.

연주하는 동안 헤드폰을 착용하면 더 잘들을 수 있습니다

* Paypal에서 sweetmusic@protonmail.com을 입력하고 $ 금액을 입력 한 다음 "계속"을 클릭하고 "신뢰할 수있는 사람에게 보내기"를 선택하십시오

질문이 있으십니까?

(일반적으로이 과정은 매사추세츠 그랜 비에있는 스튜디오에서 직접 진행됩니다.)

Mandolin Chord Chart and Suggestions for Learning Chords

mandolin chords
Chords are made from arpeggios, which come from scales.  I've talked before about the 7 "Church" modes, or Canonical Modes as they are also called: Ionian, Dorian, Phrygian, Lydian, Mixolydian, Aeolian and Locrian.   Of those modes, the most commonly used are Ionian (Major) and Aeolian (Relative Minor).  The intervals of the Ionian (Major) mode are R,W,W,H,W,W,W,H R=Root, W=Whole, H=Half.  The intervals of the Aeolian (Relative Minor) mode (starting on the 6th note of the Major scale), are R,W,H,W,W,H,WW.  If you assign each interval with a number, then the notes of the scales will be 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8 with 8 (the octave) being a repeat of 1 (the tonic or first note).  The notes of the arpeggio will always be 1,3,5,8 - regardless of the notes of the scale, or the mode.  

For example:
G Ionian (Major): G,B,D,G
G Aeolian (Relative Minor): E,G,B,E

Using the example above for the key of G, you want to make up your chord with any of the above notes: G,B,D,G for the Major and E,G,B,E for the Relative Minor.

One of the advantages of the mandolin is that it can be played like a percussion instrument in addition to providing melody and harmony.  The mandolinist has to decide what he/she wants to provide in the way of accompaniment.  If the mandolinist wants a short percussive sound (called a "chop" in bluegrass vernacular), then he/she has to use "closed chords".  Closed chords indicates a finger on each string, "closing" the ringing of the strings.  Every mandolinist has to learn the "Big G", which uses all 4 fingers with fingers on the B (a string), G (e string), G (d string), D (g string).  This is a "closed chord" because all of the strings are "closed" by a finger.  If the mandolinist wants a sound that rings (like a harp, for example), then he/she will play "open chords".  Open chords have one or more string pairs untouched by fingers allowing them to ring when struck by the pick.  Using the G example, a good open G is B (a string), and G (e string), open D and open G.

Typical styles of music that use open or closed chords are:
  • Celtic: open
  • Bluegrass: closed
  • Folk: either
  • Country: closed
  • Klezmer: open
I hope this is helpful, here's the video:

All Lessons and Group Classes haved moved online

Online Lessons through Slack and YouTube Live
Due to Governor Baker's closing of all schools and events as well as the possibility of tracking COVID19 into the studio, I have closed until further notice.

Private lessons 
are still available online through Slack.  If you are scheduled for a private lesson here at the studio in Granby, I will expect you online at the same time.  Simply log in (on your desktop/laptop) and I will contact you through Slack at the pre-determined time.  If I'm a little late it's because I'm finishing up with the previous student.  I will be there!

You may now pay me through Venmo at no additional charge.  The PayPal fee is 4.5%, but because Venmo goes directly to my bank, there is no fee.  The way it works is, download the app to your phone (available on Android and iPhone).  Once you have it set  up, simply click the little icon in the lower right to pay, enter my name (Adam Sweet - if I'm not there, it means I'm not set up in your contacts list, which you will have to do ahead of time), enter the amount, a description, and click send.  That's it.  Let me know if you're having difficulty, and I'll walk you through it next time I see you online!

Group Classes are still available online.   If you are scheduled for a group class, Klezmer on Tuesdays, Classical Mandolin on Wednesdays and Celtic Music on Thursdays, I will expect you to log into the Live class. I will post the link to the Live classes in the appropriate Slack channel, not on my website as I previously stated. 

These classes are now open to the public, so if you haven't registered for a group class, but would like to participate, please do so now by sending me your information through the contact us form on the sidebar, or by emailing  

The cost of the group class FREE for the duration of the coronavirus, and may continue to be free after that.  I am asking that if you an afford it, you  make a donation either through my Patreon page (link on the sidebar), or  Any amount is fine.  I suggest $10 but the amount is up to you.

Back by popular demand: Klezmer Group!

The Klezmer Group Class will be starting up again, Tuesday nights at 7pm, beginning April 7, 2020 and going for the whole summer.  If there is interest in the class beyond that, we will continue.

The class meets Tuesdays at 7pm.

For the duration of the coronavirus (and maybe beyond, we'll see), my group classes are donation only.  That means basically that they are free.  If you an afford something, please make a donation either through my Patreon page, or PayPal.

You do not need to play an instrument to participate in the class!  There will be lots of discussion, presentation of materials including links to download sheet music and other information, watching/listening to music and of course playing and sharing music together.  Singers and dancers are encouraged to participate.

Please RSVP by emailing  I will invite you to my slack page and from there you will be able to join the klezmer channel.  Instructions will follow.  Thank you!