Monday, October 24, 2016

I Manage Music for Weddings

Since 1986, I have been working with a variety of musicians including solo/strolling violinists, harpists and singers; trios and quartets; chamber ensembles; rock and blues bands; and DJs.

I'm happy to answer any question you might have about planning music for your special day including ceremony music, cocktail hour, dinner music, reception/dance, soiree music as well as music for the various transitions in an event.

FWIW, I am located in Western Massachusetts, near Amherst College. Most of the weddings I work with are in New England, specifically Massachusetts, Vermont, Rhode Island and Connecticut, although I have managed music for weddings in Maine and New York state.

To learn about the musicians and ensembles I can provide, as well as ask me any questions, feel free to call 413-561-2275 any time or use the contact box on the sidebar!

Thursday, October 20, 2016

I buy mandolins! Any condition.

I buy mandolins, mandolas and mandocellos.

If you or someone you know has an old (or new) mandolin kicking around the place that nobody wants, send me some pictures of the front, sides and back, details of the scroll, endpin and any damage.  If you know the provenance of the instrument (where it was made, the brand, serial number), include that information.  If you don't know anything about it, that's fine also.

Why do I buy mandolins?

I am the founder and director of the Springfield Mandolin Orchestra, a 501(c)3 Nonprofit dedicated to providing educational performances and events throughout the Metro Springfield area.  I offer a program for beginners called "Play to Own", where people that would like to join the orchestra may borrow a mandolin, mandola or mandocello, and come to rehearsals and mandolin lessons.  At the end of the year if they are still playing, they may purchase it at my cost!  

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Learning to play the mandolin is fun and profitable!

The mandolin is one of the most accessible instruments to learn.  Because of the frets, all of the notes are laid out for the player visually, making it super easy to know where to put your fingers.  The instrument is very light, so it is suitable for even the smallest of adults or teenagers.  Because it's tuned in fifths, it is easy to learn scales, arpeggios, and chords - the building blocks of all music!

You should learn to play the mandolin today!  To find out how visit my website:

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Folk Song and Music in Québec: A Brief Introduction

by Stephen D. Winick, Ph.D.

On his first trip to the New World, in 1534, explorer Jacques Cartier found a rich land inhabited by Huron and Iroquois Indians. He promptly claimed it for France. Cartier gave the name “Canada” (from an Iroquois word for “town”) to the area around the Iroquois village of Stadacona, on the banks of the St. Lawrence river. In 1608, the first permanent French colonists established Québec city in the same location, bringing their songs and music with them.

Early immigrants to Québec came from all over France, but especially from several provinces in the north and west: Normandy, Picardy, Anjou, Poitou, and Brittany. Not surprisingly, many of the traditional French songs we now find in Québec are common in those provinces as well. “Dans les prisons de Nantes,” for example, is set in Nantes, an important city that was historically the capital of Brittany. Located at the confluence of the Loire, the Sevre, and the Erdre, Nantes might be remembered fondly by French-Canadians as a model for their own important town of Trois-Rivières. The song is a fine example of an old French ballad, and was probably among the earliest French songs brought to the New World. 

During the later seventeenth century, a few hardy Frenchmen in Québec established themselves ascoureurs de bois, or “wood-runners.”  These unlicensed fur-traders traveled west of the Ottawa River into the country around Lake Superior, in search of beaver pelts.  The pelts were used to make felt for fashionable hats in Europe, especially England, and they were the hottest commodity in North America.  Within twenty years, the French authorities, seeking both to limit the trade and to get a piece of the action, introduced a system of licenses, or congés, that resulted in licensed traders, known as voyageurs

Voyageurs were crucial to the survival and development of folk song in Québec, for several reasons. First, they spent months in small groups traveling over rough country; in such a community, a good repertoire of songs could be the difference between a valued companion and a tedious bore. Thus, the voyageur life encouraged men to learn and sing songs. Second, voyageurs spent the greatest part of their time paddling great canoes along rivers, or carrying cargo on their backs during portages. Singing became their method of keeping their paddling coordinated and their marching steady, and they adapted all manner of traditional songs into work songs. We owe much of our knowledge of this early Québécois music to a number of collectors, none more important than the pioneering folklorist Marius Barbeau, who collected over 13,000 songs from oral tradition.

Many Québécois folk songs are done in call-and-response style, mirroring the tradition of western France. This tendency was reinforced by the voyageurs. Call-and-response allows a group to sing a song as long as one member knows it, which greatly increases the number of songs that can be sung en masse. Call-and-response also allows each singer time to rest and breathe while the others are singing, which is important when you are paddling a canoe at 40 to 60 strokes a minute! On this recording, “Le moulignier amoureux,” “Canot d’écorce,” “Auprès de ma blonde,” “C’est la belle Françoise” and some of the songs in the “Chasse-Galerie” medley all follow this call-and-response pattern.

In nineteenth-century Québec, Christmas Day was primarily a religious holiday.  Raucous parties were reserved for New Year’s, as revealed in our songs “Oublions l’an passé” and “Le réveillon du jour de l’an.”  One of the favorite styles of party songs among both French and Québécois singers is the cumulative counting song; as in the English-language song “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” these ditties are primarily concerned with counting gifts or blessings. “Les Parties de Gregoire,” which comes from the repertoire of Jean-Paul Guimond, counts the dishes at a sumptuous New Year’s feast. 

Traditionally, Québécois folk songs were sung unaccompanied, either solo or in unison. We have added vocal harmonies and instrumental accompaniment, borrowing elements from later Québécois performance style.
The instruments most appropriate to our period are the fiddle, bones, and…feet! Bones—known as os in French—are usually the rib-bones of an animal, held two (or more) in each hand, and shaken or rolled so that they click together rhythmically. Violins, along with bagpipes and hurdy-gurdies, were among the most popular instruments for dance music in France during the period of Québécois settlement. Bagpipes and hurdy-gurdies did not travel to the New World, so the fiddle predominated. In the absence of instruments, people sometimes made music by singing nonsense syllables, a vocal technique known as turlutter.
A well-known, indeed, defining feature of Québécois folk music is a persistent galloping rhythm tapped out with the feet. In the past, a fiddler or singer would simply tap his feet to provide percussion. Nowadays, many bands equip a musician with a special board to amplify the sound of what has come to be called podorythmie.

The button accordion, invented in 1829, became popular in Québec only at the end of the 19th century. In the same period, harmonicas, pump-organs, and eventually pianos came to be used in Québec. Guitars—especially four-course and five-course baroque guitars—have been known in Québec since the 17th century. However, the six-string guitar did not emerge until at least the 18th century, and its use in traditional Québécois folk music is a 20th-century development.

Unlike Québec’s song tradition, Québec instrumental tunes have as much in common with Irish, Scottish and English dance tunes as with French ones.  Jigs and reels abound in Québec, owing to the influence of British and Irish neighbors.  Meanwhile, one only occasionally hears tunes of French origin.

What you’ll hear on Le temps des Fêtes, then, is a selection of ancienne musique and nouvelle musique Québécoise, blending old French traditions, British and Irish influences, and New World ingenuity with modern flair.

November 24, 2010

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Mandolin Group Concerts & Class Information

There are several mandolin group concerts coming up.  These concerts are free to all!  Donations are gladly accepted.

The concert dates are as follows:
  1. October 1, 2016 - Soldier's Home in Holyoke, MA.  2pm-3pm
  2. October 8, 2016 - Porter Phelps-Huntington Museum, Hadley, MA. 2-3pm
  3. November 12, 2016 - The Arbors - Amherst, MA 2-3pm
  4. February 12, 2016 - The Loomis Community - South Hadley, MA 2-3pm
If you would like to participate in the Mandolin Group, classes meet currently Monday nights from 7-9pm in South Hadley, MA.  PM Adam Sweet for an address if you would like to attend.

Each class meets for two hours.  Sheet music, books and other study materials are provided by the instructor. The class is open to any and all levels of mandolin, mandola, mandocello and mandobass, regardless of experience.  

The cost of the class is only $125 a month!  If you buy 12 classes in advance, you may take 10% off the total cost, a $150 value.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Musical Legacy of the Acadian People

Music and song have always been an important part of Acadian culture. The Acadians brought hundreds of old French songs, many of which were originally accompanied by dances, to each region of the Maritime provinces in which they settled from 1538 - 1758.

Acadia (French: Acadie) was a colony of New France in northeastern North America that included parts of eastern Quebec, the Maritime provinces, and modern-day Maine to the Kennebec River. During much of the 17th and early 18th centuries, Norridgewock on the Kennebec River and Castine at the end of the Penobscot River were the southern-most settlements of Acadia. The actual specification by the French government for the territory refers to lands bordering the Atlantic coast, roughly between the 40th and 46th parallels. Later, the territory was divided into the British colonies which became Canadian provinces and American states. The population of Acadia included members of the Wabanaki Confederacy and descendants of emigrants from France (i.e., Acadians). The two communities inter-married, which resulted in a significant portion of the population of Acadia being Métis.

The first capital of Acadia, established in 1605, was Port-Royal. A British force from Virginia attacked and burned down the town in 1613 but it was later rebuilt nearby, where it remained the longest serving capital of French Acadia until the British Siege of Port Royal in 1710. Over seventy-four years there were six colonial wars, in which English and later British interests tried to capture Acadia starting with King William's War in 1689. During these wars, along with some French troops from Quebec, some Acadians, the Wabanaki Confederacy, and French priests continuously raided New England settlements along the border in Maine. While Acadia was officially conquered in 1710 during Queen Anne's War, present-day New Brunswick and much of Maine remained contested territory. Present-day Prince Edward Island (Île Saint-Jean) and Cape Breton (Île Royale) as agreed under Article XIII of the Treaty of Utrecht remained under French control. By militarily defeating the Wabanaki Confederacy and the French priests, present-day Maine fell during Father Rale's War. During King George's War, France and New France made significant attempts to regain mainland Nova Scotia. After Father Le Loutre's War, present-day New Brunswick fell to the British. Finally, during the French and Indian War (the North American theatre of the Seven Years' War), both Île Royale and Île Saint-Jean fell to the British in 1758.

Thanks to data gathered by the French linguist Geneviève Massignon and later by Canadian researchers at Université Laval, Université de Moncton and the National Museums of Canada we know that traditional Acadian music includes over 1,000 different songs (see Acadian Folklore Studies). This musical heritage has provided and continues to provide endless material for musicians and composers.

Until the end of the 19th century, the Acadians lived in isolated groups and had little contact with the outside world. This isolation helped to preserve the traditions of their ancestors: their way of speaking (which is a variant from the Poitou region in France), their cuisine, their celebrations and their oral traditions. Since the Acadians’ arrival on the North American continent in the 17th century, they have passed down songs, stories and legends from generation to generation.

Traditional French (folk) Music

I'm going to present a little background into the traditional music of the French from the period that settled Acadia (1538-1758).  It's not clear from what I've read whether the settlers of Acadia during that time were sophisticated enough to bring with them the High Baroque music of the courts, however we do know enough about the traditional or folk musical instruments of the time to make an educated guess about what that music might have sounded like, and how it influenced the music of that part of Canada today.

High Baroque / Court Music

The Air de cour was a popular type of secular vocal music in France in the late Renaissance and early Baroque period, from about 1570 until around 1650. From approximately 1610 to 1635, during the reign of Louis XIII, this was the predominant form of secular vocal composition in France, especially in the royal court.


Traditional instruments from Béarn include the tambour de Béarn, a six-string drum used as a rhythm drone instrument to accompany the three-holed recorder.


Gascon small pipes, called boha (bouhe), are a well-known part of the local scene. They have a rectangular chanter and drone combination, which is unique to Gascony, and are made out of sheepskin with the fleece showing.


Languedoc is home to several unusual instruments, including the bodega, a kind of bagpipe, and the aboès and graille, both kinds of oboes. The bodega is made out of goatskin, using an unusual process in which the innards of the animal are removed through the neck so that the entire, unbroken skin can be used for the instrument. It has only one large shoulder drone. The bodega is known from at least the 14th century. 


Limousin is known for its violin music, as well as the chabrette bagpipe.

Provence & Alps

The most iconic form of Provençal folk music is a duo of fife and drum, or ensembles of galoubets-tambourins; the most prominent characteristic of the region's folk music, however, is the Italian musical influence.Provence & Alps


The southwestern region of Roussillon's music is shaped by its unique ethnicities, and includes forms of Catalan and Gypsy music. The former includes the sardana and is based around the city of Perpignan. The sardana is played by a band (coble) consisting of three kinds of oboes, flutes and other instrument, including shawms and bagpipes among some recent revivalists.


Brittany retains its own unbroken piping traditions as well as mainstay instruments such as the bombard.  There are two types of bagpipes indigenous to Brittany. The veuze is very similar to other western European bagpipes such as the Gaita from Galicia and Asturies, while the biniou kozh (old biniou in Breton) is much smaller and is used to accompany the bombarde. The biniou, which plays exactly one octave above the bombarde, and bombarde duo (soner ar couple) are an integral and common part of Breton folk music, and was used historically for dance music. The two performers play alternate lines that intersect at the end, in a similar manner to the Kan ha Diskan style of singing; the bombarde does not usually play every line of the tune, however, usually instead playing every other line, or three out of four lines in a dance tune.


Outside France the island of Corsica is perhaps best known musically for its polyphonic choral tradition.  There are two dances of ancient origin found in Corsica: the caracolu, a women's funeral dance, and the moresca, illustrating the struggle between Moors and Christians.  The cetera, a cittern of 4 to 8 double strings that is of Tuscan origin and dates back to the Renaissance, is the most iconic Corsican traditional instrument.  Other Corsican instruments include:

  • Caramusa - a bagpipe made of wood, leather and reed
  • Cialamedda (also cialamella/cialambella) - formerly a reed instrument, more recently with a wooden box body
  • Mandulina - a mandolin
  • Pirula - a reed recorder
  • Pifana (also pivana) - a type of gemshorn generally made from a goat horn
  • Riberbula - related to the jaw harp
  • Sunaglieri - mule bells
  • Timpanu - a triangle
  • Urganettu - a diatonic accordion

Monday, July 11, 2016

Buy a 12 pack of Fiddle Lessons, and take 10% off!

If you sign up for 12 fiddle lessons, you can take 10% off the total!  That's $78!!

Fiddle lessons are available Fridays and Sundays at Downtown Sounds in Northampton, online using Skype or Hangouts, and may be available at your location.

Use the contact form on the side bar to connect, or call 413-561-2275 any time

Looking for Bands that want to make money!

I'm on the lookout for awesome bluegrass, celtic/irish, klezmer, folk, blues and psychedelic rock bands.

If you or someone you know plays in a band, put them in touch with me!


Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Booking Service

We are a New England-based booking agency that provides live music and DJs for weddings, bar/bat mitzvahs, anniversary parties, corporate events, private parties, clubs, festivals, schools and colleges, concerts, coffeehouses and other special events.

Serving Massachusetts (MA), Connecticut (CT), New Hampshire (NH), Rhode Island (RI), Vermont (VT), and New York (NY).


Traditional Irish Pub/Ceilidh Music
Click Here

The Americana Project
Bluegrass, Old Time, Western Swing, Acoustic Country
Click Here

Adam's Klezmer Orchestra
Klezmer, Balkan, Jazz, Swing

The Springfield Mandolin Orchestra
Classical, Pops, Traditional Mandolin
Click Here

Fiddle Hill
Traditional Fiddle Music
(Celtic, Irish, French-Canadian, Scottish, New England)
Click Here

Don't see what you're looking for?

We also book solo instruments (violin, piano, harp, guitar, etc.), duos, trios, quartets, as well as many other bands not listed here. Just tell us what you're looking for and we'll let you know if we can provide it.

We can provide a DJ for your event instead of a band, or in addition to a band. Just ask and we can provide more info!

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Happy Father's Day from Sweet Music!

I'm going over to Downtown Sounds this afternoon. I have a fiddle student at 1pm, and then I'm going to have a late Father's Day lunch with Bina around 2:30. He likes burgers, so we'll probably go to Fitzwilly's. I don't want to miss the music at Joseph Blumenthal's 40th anniversary party, so we'll head over to Armory street around 5 for the festivities.
Have a happy father's day, dads!

Monday, June 6, 2016

New Location Coming Soon: Downtown Sounds - Northampton, MA

Adam Sweet will be offering violin and mandolin lessons at DOWNTOWN SOUNDS in Northampton starting in July 2016 on Sundays from 12pm-5pm and Fridays from 2pm-7pm

If you would like to take lessons at DOWNTOWN SOUNDS, call 413-586-0998 or email and tell them you want to schedule a lesson with Adam Sweet.

Monday, March 7, 2016

The Baskin-Robbins Effect Dampens Enthusiasm in Musical Products and Services

The Baskin-Robbins Effect Dampens Enthusiasm in Musical Products and Services
PERHAPS THE MOST commonly asked question at the NAMM show is, "Have you seen any really hot products?" In years past, whenever you asked the question, you'd get a list of "must see" items. These days, however, it's more often greeted with a shrug, a pause, or perhaps a non-committal answer like, "nothing amazing, but I saw a few cool guitars, I like the brand x tuner, and brand Z is offering a decent new keyboard." Do these diffident replies indicate that industry R&D teams are falling down on the job? Have we become so accustomed to revolutionary technologies like smartphones and Bluetooth that we don't impress easily? Or is something else at work here?

We don't think deficient R&D efforts are the problem. Manufacturers in every segment of the industry continue to refine and advance designs and production methods, resulting in the highest level of product value in history. A seriously jaded public could have something to do with it. There is a pronounced tendency to take for granted remarkable technologies that were inconceivable only a few years ago, like the passenger who comes unglued because of a balky Wi-Fi connection on the airplane. We suspect that the primary cause of this apparent enthusiasm deficit has more to do with product proliferation than mediocre designs and cranky customers.

In recent years, growth in the number of distinct products or "SKUs" has far outstripped the growth in music products sales. Simple math dictates that stable industry sales volume, spread over more products, means that every individual product brings in less revenue. Think of it like Baskin-Robbins Ice Cream: When you expand from serving just vanilla and chocolate to offering 31 flavors, it becomes harder for any individual flavor to have a material impact on gross sales.

The music industry has had a similarly dramatic increase in SKU, with the same outcome: individual SKUs are less significant. In the 1950s, Fender Electric Instruments offered just four guitar models in four finishes. When Fred McCord, a leading Dallas retailer, told a Music Trades reporter in 1955 that his Stratocaster sales were "taking off," he was referring to a single guitar. Today, the Fender product line includes dozens of models in hundreds of finishes and hardware configurations. Ask a dealer about his Stratocaster business, and he's likely to respond, "Which kind of Strat? American? Mexican? Custom Shop? Standard? Squier?"

In the 1990s, a musician who wanted to set up a digital recording studio had no choice but to buy an Alesis ADAT. The same musician today can chose among dozens of different software and hardware alternatives to create a similar studio. The proliferation of models has also extended into traditional products. An aspiring student saxophonist looking to buy a step-up horn once had only French and Japanese alternatives to choose from. Now they also have access to a raft of high-quality "boutique" instruments from Taiwan.

Is this model proliferation due to consumer demand for products tailored to their specific needs? Or is it because improved production techniques have made shorter production runs economically viable? It's a little bit like asking which came first, the chicken or the egg. We don't have the answer. What we know is that the combination of consumers wanting it "their way," and what are referred to as "mass-customization production techniques" has definitely accelerated SKU proliferation.

This trend is not unique to the music products industry. America's favorite cookie, the Oreo, is now available in at least 16 distinct variants and dozens of different packaging configurations. Or consider automobiles. When the U.S. car and light truck market stood at approximately 9 million units in 1966, one model, the Chevrolet Impala, accounted for 28% of all sales, or 2.5 million units. Last year, the car and truck market hit 17 million units, and the top-selling model was the Ford F Series pick-up, with a comparatively paltry 720,000 unit sold.

Whether this trend is good or bad depends on who you ask. Those on the sales end of the business no doubt think it's great. A wider product offering makes it easier to respond to customer needs and close sales. If you're on the production or operations side of the business, you're probably less enthusiastic. More SKUs mean more complexity, a higher probability of error, and reduced efficiency. For retailers, more SKUs increase the challenge of inventory management. Whatever your opinion, the product proliferation trend is more likely to speed up than slow down in the coming years.

A more varied product offering makes it possible to better meet the needs of the buying public. The downside is perhaps a more subdued response to new product introductions. 

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

A Guide to Mandolin Care for Fall and Winter

Feb 15, 2016

Your mandolin is made mostly of wood and before it was used to create your prized and beautiful musical instrument, its main purpose was to soak up moisture, nutrients and sunlight. Yes, that’s right. Your favorite instrument was once a living tree!  It is no surprise then, that as the cooler seasons approach, your precious instrument is subject to structural change and even damage due to moisture and temperature changes. Therefore, It is vital that you know how to care for your musical instrument during these transitional seasons. The following are a few tips for caring for your mandolin during the Fall and Winter months. 

Check the Humidity Level 

Low humidity levels can cause your mandolin to warp and crack, and this is something that often occurs in the colder months – as humidity levels drop and the mercury dives with the falling temperatures. Even if your mandolin is not exposed to the cold directly, the external dry weather can reduce humidity levels inside the house, affecting your instrument. The ideal humidity level for your instrument is around 35 to 45 percent. If the humidity levels inside your home fluctuate often, you can buy an inexpensive humidifier to maintain the required levels. You can tell if your mandolin is getting dry by looking out for a few simple warning signs. These include a shrinking top and fingerboard, buzzing strings within the lower action, cracking finish, and opening bindings. If you live in an area where the humidity stays low most of the year, you can place a small humidifier in your Instrument case to prevent the wood from getting too dry.  It is not recommended to place a humidifier inside a mandolin body. 

Protect From Freezing Temperatures 

If you live in an area where it gets freezing cold in the Winter, this change in Winter and Fall weather could damage your mandolin's finish by causing cracks in the wood and checks in the lacquer. You must protect your instrument from freezing cold and drastic, immediate, temperature changes at all costs. The best thing is to keep it in its case, especially if you have to carry it with you outside. Exposing your mandolin to frequent temperature changes can also cause damage, so make sure that if it's in the case, you leave it inside the case for a period of time before taking it out in a warmer environment. This will allow the instrument to slowly adjust to the temperature change.   Wood can swell in moist environments and expand.  More damage can be done to your instrument through excessive moister or over humidification than a dry environment. Some signs of your instrument getting excess moisture are: action raises, top swelling, and or you start seeing cracks along seams or checks in the finish. This is common in areas where there is high humidity. An example would be moving from a location or gig in a cold area to a location where the temperature or humidity is significantly higher. For instance, traveling from a gig or location in the west during the winter, to a gig or location in the south where temperatures and humidity are significantly higher. 

End Note 

Most mandolins are made to withstand moderate temperature and humidity changes but additional care is necessary for instruments in colder environments to keep them properly protected. The right maintenance of your mandolin will prolong its life and keep it intact in spite of the temperate and humidity level changes in Fall and Winter. Don’t forget to check on the humidity levels in the place where you store your instrument and remember that if you turn on the heat or air conditioner, you are altering the humidity where you keep your instrument. 

- See more at:

Monday, February 15, 2016

The New Sweet Music Community on Google+

This is a community of musicians and people that want to learn about a specific musical style (we specialize in Bluegrass, Celtic and Klezmer), or learn a stringed instrument (we specialize in violin/fiddle, mandolin, mandola - also teach guitar, banjo and cello). 

For several years, I've maintained a website but it doesn't make sense to do that any more as the way people search for music teachers has changed. Utilizing a page and a community on Google+ makes a lot more sense, as it's dynamic, engaging, and a platform where I can share information and stories in real time, instead of in a static, two-dimensional manner. 

I'll be using this community to post information about upcoming concerts and recitals, new books, strings, accessories and other things I have going. I'd like students to feel free to share anything or use this community to ask questions. 

About The Sweet Music Studio

The Sweet Music Studio provides private and group music lessons on mandolin-family instruments and violin family instruments.   Swee...