Online Lessons

Online Lessons
I'm offering Online Lessons using a variety of online tools and apps including Skype, Google Hangouts and Slack.

Online Lessons are very similar to local or in-person lessons.  The only difference is if you have a slow connection, there may be a slight delay in transmission, which can take a little getting used to.  This is very rare, however, as most people have high-speed connections and don't have a problem with delay or degradation.

Click here to register for online lessons

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 Mandolin 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.

Bluegrass Group Class Starting In September, 2019: 7-9pm Fridays in Granby

The Bluegrass Group Class will resume in September. 

This will be for anybody who plays or wants to play bluegrass and wants to improve their picking, chording and soloing. 

The class will meet on Fridays from 7-9pm here in Granby. 

If you're interested, you can learn more here.

Bluegrass music is a form of American roots music named after Kentucky mandolin player and songwriter Bill Monroe's band, the Bluegrass Boys 1939-96, and furthered by musicians who played with him, including 5-string banjo player Earl Scruggs and guitarist Lester Flatt, or who simply admired the high-energy instrumental and vocal music Monroe's group created, and carried it on into new bands, some of which created subgenres. Bluegrass is influenced by the music of Appalachia and other styles, including gospel and jazz. Appalachian music itself has mixed roots in Irish, Scottish and English traditional music, and was also later influenced by the music of African-Americans through incorporation of jazz and blues elements.

Stylistic origins:
English folk, Scottish folk, Irish folk, Appalachian music, old-time music, African-American music, string bands, blues, jazz

Cultural origins:
c. 1945, United States

Typical instruments:
Fiddle (violin), mandolin, 5 string (Scruggs-style) banjo, acoustic guitar, Dobro, double bass

Celtic Music in a Hadley Museum this August 24th at 2:30 pm

"A PERFECT SPOT OF TEA"

On Saturdays in July and August, the museum revives the colonial tradition of afternoon teas. Come enjoy live music, delicious pastries, and Earl Grey tea on our back veranda. This summer series will run every Saturday from July 6th through August 24th, 2019.  The series is made possible through generous donations from area musicians, volunteer servers, restaurants, grocers, florists, and other businesses who provide the music, engagement, tea, pastries, and flowers for this program.  Admission is $12 per person, and there are seatings at 2:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. Reservations will not be taken in advance. Tours will be given for an additional fee every hour on the half hour; at 1:30, 2:30, and 3:30.

August 24 - Celtic Calamity

61067050_870185809995265_6550340793058459648_n.jpg
Celtic Calamity is a group of amateur musicians consisting of two fiddles, three mandolins and two Irish bouzoukis.  The group sings and plays traditional music from the seven Celtic Nations. 

Looking for Participants in the Bluegrass Group Class: Fridays from 7-9pm

Maple Ridge Bluegrass Band
Bluegrass music is a form of American roots music named after Kentucky mandolin player and songwriter Bill Monroe's band, the Bluegrass Boys 1939-96, and furthered by musicians who played with him, including 5-string banjo player Earl Scruggs and guitarist Lester Flatt, or who simply admired the high-energy instrumental and vocal music Monroe's group created, and carried it on into new bands, some of which created subgenres. Bluegrass is influenced by the music of Appalachia and other styles, including gospel and jazz. Appalachian music itself has mixed roots in Irish, Scottish and English traditional music, and was also later influenced by the music of African-Americans through incorporation of jazz and blues elements.

Stylistic origins:
English folk, Scottish folk, Irish folk, Appalachian music, old-time music, African-American music, string bands, blues, jazz

Cultural origins:
c. 1945, United States

Typical instruments:
Fiddle (violin), mandolin, 5 string (Scruggs-style) banjo, acoustic guitar, Dobro, double bass

About the Group Class:
Because we get our music mostly from books or downloaded off the internet, students should be able to sight-read music, and know the basics of music theory including counting various meters, playing chords and harmonizing.  If you would like to learn more about these subjects, register for private lessons.

The class meets Fridays from 7-9pm in Granby, MA.  The group decides what Bluegrass music it wants to learn, votes on the new material, and works on approximately 10-15 new tunes/melodies per semester.  A semester is approximately 3 months.

Once the group is comfortable with the "new" set, arrangements are made to put on a free concert at any local venue that allows free use.  Venues included are The Holyoke Rehab Center (on Rte 141), The Hobbit House (inside Mill 180 Park in Easthampton), The Loomis Village (South Hadley), The Arbors (Amherst), The Soldier's Home (Holyoke), The South Hadley Library and the Granby Library. 

If you would like to join the Bluegrass Group, please contact us.  The cost is $20 per class for current private students in good standing.

Openings, Updates and Group Information

Learning to play mandolin
If you have not yet signed up for an evening slot, I have the following still open:
  • Wednesday 6-7
  • Wednesday 8-9
  • Friday 5-6
  • Friday 7-8
I will NOT be teaching mornings UNTIL SEPTEMBER.  If you previously had a morning class you must either choose one of the Friday slots, or wait until September to start up again.

Some Information about Group Classes:
  • You should be taking private lessons to participate in the groups.  There is limited space, and I run the groups specifically so that my current/existing students can learn in a social environment.  If you are not a current student, there may be an additional fee.  Please ask!
  • The group classes are available only to adults and mature teenagers.
  • Private Lessons are $75 per 60 minutes.
  • Group rates are $20 per person if you are taking private lessons.  If you attend two or more groups each week, the rate is $15 per person.

Mozart's "Dissonance" Quartet - to be performed on 7/28 at 2:30pm - Porter Phelps Museum

Mozart's manuscript of K.465
The Mozart Dissonance Quartet will be performed by the Sweet Mandolin Ensemble at Porter-Phelps Museum in Hadley, MA on Sunday, July 28, 2019 at 2:30pm.  This is a FREE concert!

The String Quartet No. 19 in C Major, K. 465 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, nicknamed "Dissonance" on account of its unusual slow introduction, is perhaps the most famous of his quartets. It is the last in the set of six quartets composed between 1782 and 1785 that he dedicated to Joseph Haydn.

According to the catalog of works Mozart began early the preceding year, the quartet was completed on 14 January 1785.

As is normal with Mozart's later quartets, it is in four movements:

  • Adagio-Allegro
  • Andante cantabile in F major
  • Menuetto. Allegro. (C major, trio in C minor)
  • Allegro molto

The first movement opens with ominous quiet Cs in the cello, joined successively by the viola (on A♭ moving to a G), the second violin (on E♭), and the first violin (on A), thus creating the "dissonance" itself and narrowly avoiding a greater one. This lack of harmony and fixed key continues throughout the slow introduction before resolving into the bright C major of the Allegro section of the first movement, which is in sonata form.

The second movement is in sonatina form, i.e., lacking the development section. Alfred Einstein writes of the coda of this movement that "the first violin openly expresses what seemed hidden beneath the conversational play of the subordinate theme".

The third movement is a minuet and trio, with the exuberant mood of the minuet darkening into the C minor of the trio.

The last movement is also in sonata form.

Recording by the Borromeo String Quartet from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in MP3 format

Available Slots

Ben Levy's hands
I have the following slots open (as of 7/21/19)

Wednesdays:
  • 6-7pm
  • 7-8pm -- Not Available
  • 8-9pm

Fridays:
  • 5-6pm
  • 6-7pm -- Not Available
  • 7-8pm
If you would like one of the slots, please contact me!


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It's too hot to be outside! Why don't you cool down at the Sweet Music Studio with a Celtic Music Group Class?

Celtic Music Group Class - Thursdays 7-9pm


The Bodhran (rhymes with moron)
This group is a lot of fun!  Open to any musical instrument and voice, the group is studying traditional Dance music of Ireland, Scotland, England, Cape Breton, Canada and New England!  

Because we play from sheet music out of books or downloaded off the internet, students should be able to sight-read music, and know the basics of music theory including counting various meters, playing chords and harmonizing.  If you would like to learn more about these subjects, register for private lessons.

The class meets Thursdays from 7-9pm in Granby, MA.  The group decides what folk music it wants to learn, votes on the new material, and works on approximately 10-15 new tunes/melodies per semester.  A semester is approximately 3 months.  Any folk or roots music genre is acceptable.  Some of the tunes we have been working on can be found in the Fiddler's Fakebook by Dan Brody, the Portland Collection by Susan Songer, and the Waltz Books.  

Once the group is comfortable with the "new" set, arrangements are made to put on a free concert at any local venue that allows free use.  Venues included are The Holyoke Rehab Center (on Rte 141), The Hobbit House (inside Mill 180 Park in Easthampton), The Loomis Villiage (South Hadley), The Arbors (Amherst), The Soldier's Home (Holyoke), The South Hadley Library and the Granby Library.  

Group classes are two hours (120 minutes).  You must be a private lesson student in good standing to attend any of the group classes. The fee is $20 per person, per class.  You may attend one of the group classes without taking lessons. 

My Vacation & Projects

I've had a wonderful vacation, the first real one since Richard was 4 (he's 9 now).  With all this free time, I've had time to take some wonderful hikes on the 7 Sisters (Hadley), Mt Toby in Sunderland, Gap Mountain, Mt Monadnock and Pinkham Notch in NH, and a short camping trip to the Green Mountains in Vermont.

Seven Sisters - Hadley, MA
For projects, I built a trellis system and planted 13 apple trees, expanded my garden, moved my chicken coop and built a chicken range to keep out predators (long story - but so far, 15 chickens have been consumed by local animals just in the 1st year of living in Granby!)

Shed (left), Apple Trellis (back right), garden (front right)
 Original garden space (left front), expanded space behind,
new location of chicken coop under tree
But what I'm most proud of is the work I've been doing on my YouTube Channel.  I've been working on building playlists, which will make it easier for students to find specific tunes I've recorded or listen to a range of styles.  Here's the complete list of playlists I also created a Facebook Group specifically for Celtic Mandolin, where I've been posting some of the videos I like.

I'm looking forward to the Sweet Mandolin Ensemble concert at Porter Phelps in Hadley on 7/28/19 at 2:30pm (please come, it's free), and the Celtic Calamity concert there on 8/24/19 "A Perfect Spot of Tea".  Visit my Facebook Page for events and other information.

I reopened my studio on July 9th, and am happy to be back!  As a reminder, morning hours are still closed, but will reopen in September.  I still have slots available on Fridays at 5 and at 7 (6pm is taken).  Please let me know what works for you.

Please note the policy updates here.  

Some new material on my YouTube channel


Bluegrass Cat by Mando Mo
I have posted some new material on my YouTube channel, sorted by Playlist!  Now you can go directly to the category you are specifically interested in, without having to sort through a bunch of videos of no interest.  Click on the links below:

Firstly are some Free Lessons on mostly mandolin, fiddle as well.

Celtic Music:
Introductions, Product Reviews and Mando Mo Stuff:

Lessons and Group Classes Resume 7/9/19

Learning to play mandolin
If you have not yet signed up for an evening slot, I have the following still open:
  • Wednesday 6-7
  • Wednesday 8-9
  • Friday 5-6
  • Friday 7-8
I will NOT be teaching mornings UNTIL SEPTEMBER.  If you previously had a morning class you must either choose one of the Friday slots, or wait until September to start up again.

Some Information about Group Classes:
  • You should be taking private lessons to participate in the groups.  There is limited space, and I run the groups specifically so that my current/existing students can learn in a social environment.  If you are not a current student, there may be an additional fee.  Please ask!
  • The group classes are available only to adults and mature teenagers.
  • Private Lessons are $75 per 60 minutes.
  • Group rates are $20 per person if you are taking private lessons.  If you attend two or more groups each week, the rate is $15 per person.

Online Lessons

Online Lessons I'm offering  Online Lessons  using a variety of online tools and apps including Skype, Google Hangouts and Slack. ...