Friday Slots

Ben Levy's hands
I have the following slots open on Fridays:

  • 5-6pm
  • 6-7pm -- Taken (fiddle lesson)
  • 7-8pm


If you would like one of the slots, please let me know asap!

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.  The Fee is $55 per person, per class.  

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.  I'm now offering a 10% Senior Discount for students over 65!

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
As previously stated, I will be returning to the studio on Tuesday, July 9 2019.  If you have not yet signed up for an evening slot, I have the following still open:
  • Friday 5-6
  • Friday 6-7
  • 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 Changes To Rates:
  • Admittance to one of the group classes is limited ONLY to students who are taking private lessons.  If you are not taking private lessons, but want to attend one of the group classes, you must pay a fee of $55 per person per classSenior citizen discounts apply!  Please contact me to find out more.
  • Please note that private lesson rates will go up to $75 per hour as of July 9th.  I have not had a rate increase since my son Richard was born, almost 10 years ago.  Other teachers who offer what I do in Boston and New York are charging $120 an hour or more.  
  • I am now offering a Senior Citizen discount of 10%!  I have never offered this before, so we'll see how it goes.
  • Group rates are now $20 per person if you are taking private lessons.  If you attend two or more groups each week, the rate is $15 per person.

Please make a note of these changes and let me know if you have a problem with anything.

See you next week!

Adam Sweet

The Studio will be closed from Monday, June 24th and opening again on Tuesday the 9th of July.

The Sweet Mandolin Ensemble with special guest: Josh Bell
Performing at Porter Phelps Museum in Hadley
2018
The Sweet Mandolin Ensemble (the name chosen for the Tuesday night Classical Group Class) will be performing at Porter Phelps Museum in Hadley from 2:30-4 on Sunday, July 28th. 

This will be the World's Premier of the Bach Brandenburg Concerto No. 6 for two Mandolas, featuring the Higginsonic 8 and 10 string instruments, and Mozart's Dissonance Quartet featuring "The Whale" manocello by Mando Mo Strings.

Sweet Mandolin Ensemble

Sweet Mandolin Ensemble by Deb Noyes
A vote was cast, and the string sextet formerly known as the South Hadley Mandolin Orchestra is now permanently named the Sweet Mandolin Ensemble (SME)! 

We apologize for any confusion.  To explain, the group has gone through many changes as Adam Sweet has also moved his studio several times in the past six years.  But now that he's at his permanent location in Granby, it makes sense to make the name permanent as well.

Several names were put up to the vote:

  • If It Ain't Baroque - (by Keith H.), got several votes mostly for it's entertaining aspect
  • Dolce Ensemble - (by Mieko C.), got several votes
  • Sweet Mandolin Ensemble - (by Nancy K.), ultimately got the most votes
  • Mandolin New England - (by Will M.), is currently being used by the group comprised of area colleagues and members of Joshua Bell's L'Esperance Ensemble.  Even though we all liked it, it would be confusing to have both.
  • There were other suggestions that didn't get into the running, so I'll not mention them here.
To celebrate the name change and Adam's new (and final) studio location, the ensemble will be performing the World's Premiere Performance of the Bach Brandenburg Concerto No. 6 for 2 Mandolas by a mandolin ensemble, AND Mozart's Dissonance Quartet at Porter Phelps Museum in Hadley, Mass. on Sunday, July 28 at 2:30pm.

Adam Sweet playing "The Whale" by Mando Mo Strings
The Ensemble will be performing on several Mando Mo Strings instruments including "The Whale", a hand-carved F5-style Mandocello.  

Hope you can make it!

What is Mandolin New England?

MNE at the South Hadley Town Hall, Josh Bell Conducting
Mandolin New England (MNE) is a musical organization fostering positive mandolin experiences for all ages and backgrounds.  The group consists of a mixture of various mandolin ensembles and groups and is hosted by Adam Sweet, students and colleagues from New York, western Mass, Connecticut and Rhode Island.  

The first live performance was at the South Hadley Town Hall in January 2015, where the group performed "Jugoslavia" and the Bach Brandenburg Concerto No. 3.  

The orchestra is comprised of Adam Sweet's Sweet Mandolin Ensemble, Joshua Bell's L'Esperance Ensemble, and area colleagues.  The class is open to anyone with 5 or more years of playing experience on either bowed-string instruments (violins, violas, cellos) or mandolin-family instruments.  The class studies Classical-era (1700s) and Romantic-era (1800s) music with composers such as J.S. Bach, W.A. Mozart, F. Schubert and more.

The group is free to join!  We don't have regular rehearsals, but if you would like to attend the Tuesday night classical group class at Sweet Music Studio, RSVP through the website: http://sweetmusicstudio.net

Visit and "like" our Facebook page to get regular updates: https://www.facebook.com/mandolinnewengland/

Summer 2019 - Schedule & Events

climbing Mt Washington!
I will be on vacation from the last week in June through the first week in July.  I will be back on Tuesday, July 9, 2019.

Please mark your calendars!

The Summer Schedule is as follows:  Tuesday - Thursday, 5pm-9pm.  Check my schedule here for a more recent update. 
  • There will be no morning hours available until September.  
  • If you had a previously scheduled morning slot, make sure you've moved to an open slot in the evening if you still want lessons.  If the slot you wanted is not available, contact me asap to find another.
  • Several people will be traveling or vacationing this summer, so their slots will be available during the summer months.  
  • If you don't see the slot you want, contact me asap

Due to illness in the family, I will not be attending Festivals as previously planned.  

If you would like to try one of the Mando Mo instruments, contact me for a private viewing!

Events:

  • Celtic Calamity (the Thursday night Celtic group class) performing and singing Thursday June 20, 2019 at 7pm at Mill 180 Park in Easthampton
  • Granby Mandolin Ensemble (the Tuesday night Classical group class) performing Bach and Mozart on Sunday, July 28 at 2:30pm at Porter Phelps Museum in Hadley.



F5-style Mandolin from Vietnam, beautifully inlaid

I bought this beautiful mandolin on eBay a long time ago.  I don't even remember the date.  I think it might have been 2006 or 7.  The seller described it as a Vietnamese mandolin, but I suspect it was made in China.  The inlay and shell laminates are gorgeous and easily the best feature of this instrument.  Other than that, it has a nice chop (for bluegrass) and a big-warm tone, so it's perfect for a variety of styles.  I played mostly Celtic and Classical music on it.



It has a minute hairline crack in the back, which doesn't affect the sound, and two of the pegs are white.  I took it to be set up at The Luthier in Ashfield, and Mark Leue didn't have the right parts for it unfortunately.  That's easily remedied by a good luthier.

I have a custom built hard shell case that came with it, included at no extra cost.  Handling, insurance, packaging and shipping comes to an additional $50.  I take PayPal, or you can pick it up at my studio in Granby, MA and pay cash.



The Ranger, by Montana Lutherie (formerly Weber)
SRP: $555
Case: padded gig bag
Shipping & Handling: $50

This tiny little mandolin will go anywhere with you weighing less than two pounds in the case. Sporting a smaller profile than a standard mandolin, but having a standard scale/neck size, it plays like a full size mando.  The Ranger has a two-point flare giving it a larger chamber than its popular predecessor, ‘The Sweet Pea’, but it is still surprisingly quiet, perfect for hotel rooms or crowded campgrounds where people are trying to sleep!

Adam's review of the Ranger

The Ranger - A tiny quiet travel mando from Montana Lutherie






Updates & General Information

Every so often I will update my readers with studio information, event listings and other topics I feel might be relevant. 

Firstly, please come to see the Celtic Group Class Thursday,  June 20th at 7pm performing 90 minutes of music including some of our favorite sing-alongs: "The Parting Glass", Brennan on the Moor and the Gypsy Rover!  The group will be performing in the Hobbit House within The Park at Mill 180 in Easthampton, MA.  This is a free concert.  There are drinks and food at the bar, so you don't need to byob!  I hope you can come.  This will be a lot of fun. 

Secondly, put this date in your calendar: Sunday, July 28th, the Classical Group Class will be performing Bach and Mozart at the Porter Phelps Huntington Museum in Hadley.  The group will be performing the Bach Brandenburg Concerto No. 6 for 2 Mandolas and continuo (a world premier!), and Mozart's "Dissonance" String Quartet No. 19 in C Major, K. 465 (also a world premier AFAWK).

Finally, Summer is almost here and that means some students go away, leaving gaps in my schedule.  The following slots will be open this week:

Tuesday 11am-12pm
Wednesday 11am-12pm, 7pm-8pm
Friday 5-6pm, 6-7pm

If you are a current student who would like to switch to another day/time, please let me know through Slack and I'll do my best to make arrangements.  If you've been thinking about taking lessons with me, now's the time to register for classes as these slots (especially the early ones) will fill up quickly.

Thank you!

New Octave mandolin from Mandomo Strings

The Octave Mandolin
New from Mando Mo Strings: The Octave Mandolin

This Octave mandolin is hand-carved out of 3-5 year air-dried flamed maple back, sides and neck. Triple A-grade ebony fretboard, Tusq nut and set up with Optima Octave strings, solid cast tailpiece and custom Brekke bridge!

We are currently working with a case company to build a custom case that will support the scroll and neck of this beautiful instrument.

Price: $1,449 with custom case.  We are taking pre-orders now.  2-3 month delivery.  ORDER HERE

Specs:
  • Top: Solid Spruce, with tortoise binding
  • Back & Side: solid flamed maple, with tortoise binding
  • Neck: solid flamed maple
  • Fretboard: AAA Grade Ebony
  • Nut width: 1.25'"
  • Body length: 17" 
  • Scale length: 20"

The Old Copperplate on the Octave Mandolin


Irish Bouzouki Recordings

Last week I recorded several tunes on the large bodied Irish bouzouki I own.  If you're interested in learning more about the difference between an Octave mandolin and an Irish bouzouki, I wrote a post on that subject earlier as well!  Below are the videos I recorded.  I hope you enjoy them.  If you would like to learn how to play the Irish bouzouki, contact me.  I would be happy to teach you.


Blarney Pilgrim


Star of the County Down


Whiskey Before Breakfast


Coleraine & The Kesh Jig



Difference Between Irish bouzouki and Octave mandolin

Adam playing his Irish bouzouki
The Irish bouzouki (Irish: búsúcaí) is an adaptation of the Greek bouzouki (Greek: μπουζούκι). The newer Greek tetrachordo (4 courses of strings) bouzouki was introduced into Irish traditional music in the mid-1960s by Johnny Moynihan of the folk group Sweeney's Men. Alec Finn, first in the Cana Band and subsequently in De Dannan, introduced the first more-traditional Greek trichordo (3 course) bouzouki into Irish music.

In the early 1970s, Andy Irvine gave his Greek bouzouki to Dónal Lunny, who replaced the octave strings on the two lower G and D courses with unison strings, thus reinforcing their lower frequencies. Soon after, on a visit with Irvine to the workshop of luthier Peter Abnett, Lunny commissioned a bouzouki to the specifications of a classic, 4-course Greek bouzouki but with unison strings and a three-piece, partially staved back. Since then, the instrument has been adapted for Irish traditional and other styles of folk music.

Tuning
By far the most common tuning for the Irish bouzouki is G2 D3 A3 D4.[7] This was pioneered by Johnny Moynihan (apparently in an attempt to replicate the open, droning sound of Appalachian "clawhammer" banjo) first on the mandolin and then transferred to a Greek bouzouki. It was later picked up by Andy Irvine and Dónal Lunny, and quickly became the next thing to a standard tuning for the 4 course instrument. Other tunings used, although by a minority of players, are "octave mandolin" tuning G2 D3 A3 E4, and "Open D" tuning A2 D3 A3 D4. "Open G" G2 D3 G3 D4, is used by some players and has proven useful for "bottleneck" slide playing.


Adam's introduction to the instrument


The G D A D tuning is closer to the D3 A3 D4 tuning of the Greek trichordo bouzouki than is the guitar-like tuning C3 F3 A3 D4 used on the modern Greek tetrachordo, and is particularly well suited to a modal harmonic approach to accompaniment as used in Irish traditional music. Alec Finn, playing a Greek trichordo bouzouki, uses the traditional D3 A3 D4 tuning with the octave pair on the low D course changed to unison

Construction
For many builders and players, the terms "bouzouki", "cittern", and "octave mandolin" are more or less synonymous. The name cittern is often applied to instruments of five courses (ten strings), especially those having a scale length between 20 and 22 inches (500mm and 550mm). They are also occasionally called "10 string bouzoukis" when having a longer scale length. The fifth course is usually either a lowest bass course tuned to C2 or D2 on an instrument with a long scale, or a highest treble course tuned to G4 or A4 on a shorter scale. Luthier Stefan Sobell, who coined the term "cittern" for his modern, mandolin-based instruments, originally used the term for short scale instruments irrespective of the number of their strings, but he now applies "cittern" to all 5 course instruments irrespective of scale length, and "octave mandolin" to all 4 course instruments, leaving out bouzouki entirely.

Mandolin-family luthiers producing an octave mandolin are more likely to use mandolin tuning machines and reproduce the details and styling of their American-style carved top mandolins. Some luthiers choose to refer to their clearly bouzouki-style instruments as octave mandolins, or even as mandocellos, despite the GDAD tuning. The octave mandolin is usually regarded as having a shorter scale length than the Irish bouzouki, in the vicinity of 20 to 23 inches (50 to 59 cm), while the scale length of the Irish bouzouki most often ranges from 24 to 25 inches (60 to 65 cm). Some instruments have scales as long as 26 or even 27 inches (66 to 68 cm). These longer-scaled instruments are generally acknowledged to possess greater volume, sustain, and tonal richness but some players find the stretches involved in fingering too difficult and so prefer shorter scale lengths.

The Octave Mandolin is a fretted string instrument with four pairs of strings tuned in fifths, G, D, A, E (low to high), an octave below a mandolin. It is larger than the mandola, but smaller than the mandocello and its construction is similar to other instruments in the mandolin family. Usually the courses are all unison pairs but the lower two may sometimes be strung as octave pairs with the higher-pitched octave string on top so that it is hit before the thicker lower-pitched string. Alternate tunings of G, D, A, D and A, D, A, D are often employed by Celtic musicians.

The names of the mandolin family instruments vary between Europe and the United States. The instruments that are known in the USA as the mandola and the octave mandolin tend to be known in Great Britain and Ireland as the tenor mandola, the octave mandola (or the "Irish bouzouki"). Also, octave mandola is sometimes applied to what in the U.S. is a mandocello.

In Europe outside the British isles, mandola is the larger GDAE tuned instrument while the smaller CGDA tuned one is known as alt-mandoline (i.e., alto mandolin), mandoliola or liola.

This geographic distinction is not crisp, and there are cases of each term being used in each country. Jimmy Moon, a Scottish luthier calls his version of the instrument by both names and Paul Shippey, an English luthier, uses the term octave mandolin. Confusion will likely continue as the terms continue to be used interchangeably.

Construction
Octave mandolin construction is similar to the mandolin: the body may be constructed with a bowl-shaped back according to designs of the 18th-century Vinaccia school, or with a flat (arched) back according to the designs of Gibson Guitar Corporation popularized in the United States in the early 20th Century. The scale of the octave mandolin is longer than that of the mandolin, and varies more widely, from 19" (48.4 cm) to 24" (61.0 cm), with 21" (53.3 cm) being typical. The internal bracing is similar to the mandolin and mandola, with a single transverse brace on the top just below the oval soundhole. On modern instruments X-bracing is sometimes used.

As is typical of the mandolin family, octave mandolins can be found with either a single oval soundhole or a pair of "F" soundholes.

As with the scale length, the number of frets on an octave mandolin also varies widely, from as few as 17 to as many as 24 frets: 18 or 19 frets is typical.

What is Klezmer Music, and What's The Roma Connection?

Originally, the word "klezmer," from the Yiddish language, meant "vessel of song" and later, simply "musician." However, it has come to characterize the style of secular music played by Ashkenazi Jews for joyful celebrations such as weddings.

Alicia Svigals - Klezmer violinist

Klezmer can trace its origins back to the 9th century in the Rhine valley, where the Yiddish language also developed. As Jews moved to Eastern Europe their celebratory music wedding/festival music found influence in that of the local cultures, specifically in present day Romania (including a definite cross-pollination with Roma music) and Moldova (once Bessarabia, where klezmer musicians started using Turkish scales already familiar from synagogue observances), Belarus, Lithuania, Russia, Ukraine and Poland, where 19th century, Polish-Russian klezmorim (esteemed klezmer musicians) who had been in Czarist military bands brought brass and woodwind instruments into what had primarily been string-based ensembles. Judaism’s ultra-orthodox Chasidic movement of the 18th and 19th centuries emphasized passionate singing and dancing while in the act of worship and bound klezmer music inextricably to Jewish festivals and joyous observances.  Klezmer music draws on centuries-old Jewish traditions and incorporates various sounds of music from European and international traditions, including Roma (gypsy) music, Eastern European folk music (particularly Russian music), French Cafe music and early jazz. In different regions of Eastern and Central Europe, klezmer developed slightly differently, leading to an exciting range of subgenres.

Like the Jews, the Roma are an ancient ethnicity that did not originate in Europe; who are believed to have migrated to Persia from northern India from around 420 BC when 10,000 Luri (a caste of musicians and dancers) were brought at the request of the King. On the move with the Turkish army who used them as professional musicians, the Roma dispersed throughout Europe from the 15th century, living on the fringes of society as tinkers, craftsmen and horsetraders, as well as entertainers. Whether dancing with trained bears or playing for a village wedding, Gypsies in the Austro-Hungarian empire made themselves indispensable as performers to villages of various ethnicities (Saxons, Vlachs, Magyar and Moldavians, etc., to name just the groups of Transylvania).

Taraf d Hadouks - Gypsy/Roma/Klezmer


Also like the Jews, the Roma  were a separate minority group generally living on the margins of the societies of the countries in which they lived.  Both groups maintained distinct cultural identities despite being widely scattered, possessed no country or homeland of their own, and were frequent targets of expulsions, discrimination, and persecution. Like klezmer, Roma music is likely traditional religious songs combined with the music of host countries, and influenced by Roma status as a wandering and often marginalized minority. Despite of all this, the music of both groups is often joyful and exemplifies the energy and fire of life and of living.

Klezmer music is intended to replicate the human voice including sounds of crying, wailing and laughing. Generally, the violin is responsible for the imitation which is mean to sound like the cantor in a synagogue. Often, a klezmer band will include a fiddle, a bass or cello, a clarinet and a drum. Secondary instruments include hammered dulcimers and an accordion.
Klezmer music is made for dancing. Most dances which are intended to go along with klezmer music are set dances (much like the Anglo square or contra dances). Klezmer music also has many traditional waltzes and polkas, and in later years, musicians picked up some tangos and polkas which remain in the repertoire.

These klezmer pieces are meant for dancing, including fast and slow tempos:

  • Freylekhs are the most popular klezmer dances and they are done in a circle while the piano, accordion or bass plays an "oom-pah" beat. "Freylekh" is the Yiddish word for "festive."
  • Skotshne, meaning hopping, is like a more complex freylekh.
  • Tango is a famous dance that came out of Argentina; Jews originally composed quite a few Eastern European tangos.
  • Sher: This is a set dance, one of the most common, done in 2/4 tempo. The name is derived from the straight-legged, quick movements of the legs, reminiscent of the shears used by tailors.
  • Halaka is a traditional Israeli dance the originated in Safed in Galilee; its tune has been handed down through generations.
  • Khosidl, or khusidl, is named after the Hasidic Jews who performed the dance which can be done in a circle or in a line.
  • Sirba is comprised of hopping and short bursts of running.
  • Hora or zhok is a Romanian-style dance; the Israeli hora is derived from the Romanian hora. "Zhok" in Yiddish comes from the Romanian word "joc" which means dance.
  • Csárdás is popular among Jews from Hungary, Slovakia and the Carpathians. It begins slowly
  • Padespan is a kind of Russian/Spanish waltz.and then the speed quickens.
  • Kolomeike is a quick and catchy dance which comes from Ukraine where it is the most common folk music.
  • Mazurka and polka are from Poland and Czechoslovakia. Both Jew and non-Jews engaged in the dance.
  • Terkish is like the habanera.

Di Grine Kuzine with Theodore Bikel

Other Articles



Introducing: Klezmer For Beginners Online Group Class

The Klezmer For Beginners Online Group Class will be broadcast from Adam's YouTube channel (here) beginning June 5, 2019 and going for the whole summer.  If there is interest in the class beyond that, we will continue.

The class meets Wednesday mornings from 9am-11am EST.

The cost is  $75 for the summer (a $15 savings).  Register and pay through PayPal (here), include your instrument (if any), name, email address and cell phone # in the comments box.

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 pre-paying for the class!  Thank you!

$35/30 Minute Mandolin Lesson Program

The $35/30 Minute Mandolin Lesson Program is available again this spring.  Class times available are Tuesdays - Fridays 8am-8:30am, 8:30am-9am, 9am-9:30am, 9:30am-10am, 10-10:30am, 10:30am-11am.

All ages welcome!  Lessons are available in person here at the studio in Granby, MA or online using Skype or Hangouts.  I accept PayPal for remote lessons, and cash for in-person lessons. Sorry, no checks!

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 be eligible for either the Music for Beginners' Group Class (Wednesdays at 7pm), or Fiddle is Fun, a group for people that want to learn how to play the fiddle together.

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.

Emily's Violins

Emily's Violins was an import/export company that specialized in luthier supplies, including horse tail hair for bows; ebony, rosewood and boxwood for fittings; tonewood for violin and cello makers; tools and hide glue. 

While we still inventory some of the items and have maintained contacts among suppliers, the internet generally and Alibaba.com specifically have veritably destroyed our online business.

Emily appreciates your patronage and thanks you for over a decade of business.

Taking Lessons At Sweet Music Studio

ASL & Sweet Music
There are several ways you can take private 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 Google Hangouts: Online lessons are held through Google Hangouts (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.
    Mandolin New England / Classical Group 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 be eligible for either the Music for Beginners' Group Class (Wednesdays at 7pm), or Fiddle is Fun, a group for people that want to learn how to play the fiddle together.

    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.

    What is Slack, and Why We Use It

    Slack Logo
    You’ve probably heard a lot about Slack - the messaging app that almost every workplace seems to be using. 

    If you're a member of the Sweet Music Studio, you should have received an invitation to join the studio Slack.  If you have not, click here and request an invitation.

    What is Slack?
    Slack is essentially a chat room for your whole team, designed to replace email as your primary method of communication and sharing.  Its workspaces allow you to organize communications by channels for group discussions and allows for private messages to share information, files, and more all in one place.  Plus, Slack integrates with a host of other apps so you can manage your entire workflow through one platform.

    Here are a few of Slack’s key features:

    Teams & Workspaces
    Slack allows businesses, communities, and other organizations to create a private, dedicated workspace complete with a custom URL.  After a simple signup process, you’ll be able to invite your team to join and start getting work done.  For small to medium-sized teams, you’ll likely need just one workspace organized by public and private channels to meet all your needs, but Slack also has features to help enterprises manage multiple workspaces if that makes more sense (more on that below).

    Team-Wide and Private Messaging
    Slack messaging is grouped into channels and direct messages to organize conversations and replace communications that might otherwise be scattered across emails, text messages, or in person meetings.  Public channels are open to all members of a workspace and can cover everything from different marketing and sales operations to random discussions and streams of memes (if you’re company likes to have as much fun as we do).  You can also create Private channels in Slack to help break down large teams into their relevant working groups or restrict sensitive conversations or work materials to relevant team members.  And Slack allows private messages, sent directly to other team members, so you can have one-off communications or keep things organized between you and specific members of your team.

    Integrations
    Integration with third-party services is one of Slack’s most powerful features.

    These let you use some of your favorite apps right within Slack - so you don’t have to keep switching tabs, remember where that shared link went to, or open up another application just to quickly double check something.

    Some of Slack’s major integrations include:

    • Google Drive
    • Dropbox
    • Heroku
    • Github
    • Zendesk
    • Zapier

    The History of Celticado - My traditional Celtic duo

    About 14 years ago, I was living in Hadley in a rental apartment on route 9 not far from whole foods.

    I was playing at the time with a string quartet that played traditional Irish and Celtic music called Woodkerne. The first name was cracker Jack. We had to change the name because one of our members discovered that there was a punk rock group in the Saratoga Springs area with the same name and didn't want to conflict with the group. So we saw out a name change, everybody came up with their own ideas, and we voted and the one we liked the most was Woodkerne. Now most people don't know what that word means, and I'll just say that in the history of Ireland when the English were driving the Irish landowners out of their homes and castles murdering them and taking their women and children it was a tumultuous time and groups of young men would flee to the woods where they would set up camps and try to make a living as subsistence and as rangers and and what not. This might just well-be where some of the most famous stories about rogues and Robin Hood certainly and some of the other stories like the wonderful Clancy Brothers tune Brennan on the moor originated.


    The name Woodkerne means woods obviously, and Kern is the English word for Cannon fodder. Back in the middle ages, unskilled farmers and young men and boys were often recruited by advancing armies to go in front and basically be hacked down, slowing the advancing enemy army. They were called Kerne, and so the name Woodkerne essentially refers to people who live in the woods who come out and try to take their land back. So if you go to Wikipedia and you look up the word Woodkerne you should be able to find a much better definition than the one I've just given you.

    Our band consisted of banjo, fiddle, guitar, and bodhran. We played a mixture of Celtic fiddle tunes that were tunes that I had picked up over the years playing in bluegrass bands and contradance bands. The members also contributed their own songs that they wanted to play and we sang a few songs as well. We played a variety of jigs and horn pipes and polkas and waltzes and because of my classical music background and it specifically my chamber music background I really spent a lot of time making up interesting arrangements for the different musical instruments. Now I got kind of in trouble for that, because one of our players in the group specifically said on many occasion that traditional Irish music was not harmonized there was no improvisation and nobody took turns playing at that everybody played the same melody all together at the same time without any cordial backup or at least very minimal. So I thought that that was pretty hokey and not something I wanted to do. Which is why I started calling the band style music Celtic, rather than traditional Irish. I had done some reading about what traditional Irish really meant, and I had learned that there is a lot of confusion about what traditional Irish meant and the history of Irish music is so convoluted that it would take further study. Now this was the 1990s, 1998 as a matter of fact, and I had not done the deep research on the topic yet, but I knew enough about the music that I really felt it wouldn't be fair to call it traditional Irish. So we billed ourselves as a Celtic band. Thankfully, it didn't seem to hurt us in the slightest.

    We played for a lot of weddings and concerts and private events and public events. We played at a golf course. We played on the side of a of a mountain in a stone chapel, in an abandoned camp, in hotels, and all over New England. Two of us went to Egypt and played in front of the great pyramids in a world music festival. We were hired to play in a real swanky wedding in California and the bride and groom paid for our tickets and put us up in a very nice hotel and Anaheim. We played a lot of really interesting places and had a really good time doing it.

    In 2001, our guitar player, Paul Burton, had to move away. And that meant that we had to find another
    Irish Bouzouki
    guitar player. Now the banjo player and I were the really oldest members of the group. He and I had been playing together since the early '90s with another band called Maple Ridge. His name was John Rough. John and I used to go to an Irish session that we helped set up in North Amherst at a public house called The Harp. The session was on Friday nights and we would go over there and sit and have a couple of Guinness and play some tunes. At one of the sessions, we met a man from Connecticut named James Bunting. He was playing an instrument that looked like a very large mandolin and later when I got to talk to him he told me it was called an Irish bouzouki. But I never heard of a bouzouki before so of course I had to go online and learn everything I could about it. As it turns out a member of the Bothy Band which is a very famous Irish band, took his family on vacation degrees in 1966 and there he picked up a Greek bouzouki which he played a little bit while he was there and brought it back with him to Ireland when he returned and started playing around with it in the Bothy Band and soon after several other bands including the De Dannen which is another famous Irish super group and all tan started incorporating the bouzouki into their music and now it's highly unusual to find an Irish band that doesn't have a bouzouki player. but I didn't know any of that at the time, so it was a great conversation starter. I went up to gym and said "hey my name is Adam I really enjoying your playing, what is that instrument?" We chatted for a while about that turned out he also played guitar one thing let to another and I invited him to come to a Thursday night rehearsal at my house and Hadley which she did the following Thursday. So it seemed like we had our guitar player.


    Over the next eight years would current played 100th of concerts weddings parties and other events together. We lost our bodhran player who developed a severe rheumatoid arthritis and couldn't use the tapper anymore. So we had to look around for another bodhran player and I found one whose name was Andy Weiner. Andy was just learning how to play but he could play sufficiently so that he could provide a solid beat behind the group the group smelly and that's all we really needed. Andy was a real good guy very friendly very upbeat always wanting to help out with a contradict background so we kind of lucked out with that.

    We recorded our second album at Avocet recording studios in Colrain I forgot to mention, that our first album was also recorded there and if you go to my band camp page which is AdamSweet.bandcamp.com you can download the music from those albums directly from that page if you want a CD of either the first or the second album let me know and I will do my best to burn one for you from my desktop.
    Woodkerne 2009

    So after losing Dan and acquiring Andy, we were able to get back into the gigs and get back to work but all good things must come to an end, and in 2009 we played our last gig together which was at a Irish night in New Haven Connecticut and unfortunately I mean it was a great show but the organizers refused to pay us because they said that they hadn't drawn enough people and we were only going to be paid a percentage of the door so we ended up not making much money that night. And when I went to tell the guys, they were not happy at all. After that we played one or two more gigs together but the magic had gone.

    Celticado, was a duo that James Bunting and I formed way back in 2005 at the beginning of all this to play strip down easy cheap weddings and other events for clients that didn't want to pay for the full quartet. So when the band broke up in 2009, James and I continued to play together. we've had several people join us over the years and work on several projects, for example in 2010 Marc Vocca joined us for a special concert at the Windsor Art Center in Connecticut:



    We've also played with other great musicians and had some wonderful experiences as a duo and then as a trio with Claudine Langille. Now I would like to talk about Claudine, but I believe it deserves a separate podcast or blog post so I will get to it at another time suffice to say that Claudine is one of the world's greatest traditional Irish mandolin players alive today. And it is always a treat to be able to play a gig with Claudine.


    Celticado's Website: Celticado.com

    Well thank you very much for reading this post and/or hearing it on my podcast website if you have any questions or comments look forward to receiving them through my website at SweetMusicStudio.net have a great day.

    Five String Violins

    I bought my first Five String Violin from a seller on eBay back in 1998.  I wanted something I could play on stage with my country band, Wild Heart, and bring with me to Egypt for a concert I was gearing up for in front of the Great Pyramids in Cairo.  I did some online research and learned about a company called Straus that was based in Korea.  They made a lot of other models including the one I liked (which was shaped like a treble clef).  The factory also built mandolins for some top American brands including Fender (electric violins), Michael Kelly and Rigel (mandolins) and Saga (banjos, guitars, bouzoukis).

    Here's a picture of me playing my Straus electric violin with my friend Brian Bender on the trombone.  You can see the Great Pyramid of Giza in the back.  We were literally dozens of feet in front of the Sphinx.

    Brian Bender / Adam Sweet - Cairo, Egypt 1999

    After a while, I decided I wanted something acoustic that I could play with my celtic band Woodkerne.  Back to the internet, I learned about a maker in Chicago named Martin Brunkalla.  I contacted him and worked out an arrangement to distribute his 5 String Violins for a fee.  I sold probably six or seven of them before finding a supplier in China that was willing to make them for me directly.  So in 2004, I started importing Five string violins under my own TwoTree brand for sale in the US and Europe.  Below are some pictures of those instruments:

    TwoTree Base-model Five String $899 with HSC
    TwoTree Dragon Head Five String $999 with HSC

    While I still play a five string fiddle in my Celtic group, Celticado, I don't import them any more.  They are capricious and difficult to keep in tune.  The C (low) strings tend not to sound very good, even on the higher quality instruments, due to the short length of the neck.  I can still get the TwoTree violins by special order for customers that are interested.  I have a video here of me playing one.  I apologize for the sound.  It was recorded in my basement ten or eleven years ago.

    Friday Slots

    Ben Levy's hands I have the following slots open on Fridays: 5-6pm 6-7pm -- Taken (fiddle lesson) 7-8pm If you would like ...