Wednesday, September 30, 2020

COVID19 Update for lessons and classes

We are still temporarily closed to the public during the Coronavirus pandemic.  When Governor Baker announces phase 4 of the reopening process, we will notify everybody.

Until that time, all lessons are held online using Slack.  If you haven't registered for online classes yet, email me at to get an invitation for Slack.  You can download the app to your phone and install the portal on your desktop browser.

Starting in October, I will be holding YouTube LIVE classes on Wednesdays and Thursdays at 7pm.  To participate, you must have a YouTube Channel and you must be logged in.  The $10 (ten dollars) payment for these classes is via Venmo, Donation or through my Patreon page, links below:

Wednesday night's class at 7pm will cover Classical music and/or Mandolin Orchestra music.  Each class will be different, but the theme will follow these topics generally.  Mandolin New England, Inc. is the organization responsible for these events and any and all donations are tax deductible and go directly to the 501c3.

Thursday night's class at 7pm will cover Celtic music.  There will be tunes, discussion and history.  There will be an opportunity for a Q&A at the end.

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Weddings in 2021: Celtic Music For Ceremonies, Receptions, Cocktail Hours and More!

I am booking now for Weddings in 2021!  I can assemble a duo, trio, quartet or much larger combo for just about any part of a wedding that's required.  Here are some examples:

Ceremony - Fiddle and Guitar:

  • Seating music: lovely Irish slides, slow airs, ballads, O'Carolan tunes
  • Processional music: Bride's choice of tunes or a selection of our most popular processional tunes
  • Ceremony music: for wrapping ceremony, candle-lighting ceremony, knot tying ceremony
  • Recessional music: Bride's choice of  tunes, or a selection of our most popular recessional tunes
  • Example (Calliope House Set)
Cocktail Hour - Fiddle, Guitar and Accordion:
  • While the guests wait: a lively selection of jigs, reels, hornpipes and songs
  • Husband/Wife presentation/announcement: Couple's choice of announcement songs or tunes or a selection of our most popular tunes.
  • Social music: a lively selection of jigs, reels, hornpipes and more
  • Example (Blast o'Reels)
  • Example (Kilfenora Set)
Dinner - Fiddle, Guitar, Accordion
Reception/Dance - Fiddle, Guitar, Accordion, Bass, Percussion
Soiree/End of Evening: Fiddle, Guitar

Saturday, September 19, 2020

Why I chose a Breedlove mandolin over an Eastman

 I chose a Breedlove mandolin over an Eastman for under $1,000.  Here's why:

I bought my Breedlove online through  I paid close to $700 for it new.  It came with a padded/travel case.  I've had it for several years and I still play it even though I have another mandolin I favor.  Here's the original video I made the first day it arrived from the website:

Sunday, September 13, 2020

Return to School During The Pandemic, and other news


Firstly, I will be hosting a Celtic / Irish Trad session until it's too cold to play outside.  It will be Thursdays at 7pm.  We'll socially distance, wear masks and have fun!  Meet at my house, bring music stands if you're going to read music (and a light for when it gets dark), and folding chairs.  Granby does have an ordinance against groups of 10 or more, so we'll need to keep it small for now.  Contact me if you have any questions!

This update relates to School starting in Granby on Tuesday among other things.  Since Richard will be attending "remote learning" at the school until a hybrid/phased approach in December, I will be monitoring him and providing him with the support and feedback he usually gets at school.  He enters 5th grade this year, and although his IEP is still active, because of the remote learning challenge, his teachers obviously can't "take him out of the class" as they would if he were physically there.  Autism is a challenge, especially for parents, and doubly so because I am self-employed.  This means that if I don't work, I don't get paid.  That's fairly obvious.  As mentioned in other updates, more than 3/4 of my income has disappeared during the pandemic due to wedding and other event contracts cancellation, as well as retail sales (since nobody can actually come into my studio because of the pandemic), and in person sales (at concerts that aren't happening).  

All of my colleagues and musician friends are facing the same challenges as I am, and are finding creative ways to maintain their incomes.  Online paid concerts, masterclasses via Zoom or YouTube Live are the most commonplace.

Tuesday is the first day of classes.  The plan, according to an email I just received from his teachers, is to meet everybody in one place via Zoom at 8:35 a.m. The teachers plan on scheduling classes much the same as they did last year, however there obviously will be some changes, for example, they will use Google Classroom to sort assignments and collect feedback from students.  This year they are also loaning Chromebooks to all of the students, pre-installed with software and links needed by the staff.

I am excited for him, and nervous.  It's my nature to be nervous about new things.  This seems to be an increasing experience for me.  Is it age-related?  I'm not that old, 58 hardly seems to be old enough for these challenges.  Is it related to something else? I don't know.  I try to keep anxiety in check with exercise, sleep and a good diet.  I will do my best.

Regarding the studio, I am offering various products through the website for sale to students and locals (pickup only at this time).  Violins, mandolins, strings, bows and accessories are all available to look at on my website  As always, contact me if you have questions, want to hear what an instrument sounds like, or anything else.

School "ends" at 2:30, and I expect Richard to have some kind of assignment, or "homework" each day.  That may not be the case as much more will be accomplished on the spot during the 'school day'.  I will see how it goes and amend my availability accordingly.  As it stands, I'm planning a 4pm-7pm schedule for now.  Please check my Calendar for openings before contacting me about lessons!

Friday, September 4, 2020

COVID19 Update and News

It's been months since I've posted an update.  While I was definitely teaching online after the shut down in March, I've stayed at home and not ventured out at all in public.  A few weeks back, my family visited my parents in NH - socially distancing of course.  They are in their 80s and very cautious of infection, even if we are virus-free.  Then I got my license finally from the RMV and took my car out for a spin in the rain with my son Richard.  The car was wonky - the tires had formed flat on one side, so that needed to be ironed out, but they reformed properly after a couple of miles...the brakes were also very dry and noisy.  Otherwise the car drove normally.  It was good to be behind the wheel again.  Yesterday, September 3rd, 2020, we took the car up to Lithia Springs Rd in South Hadley, parked, and walked up to the reservoir from there.  It was an easy 1 mile hike to the top.  We hung out (chillaxed as Richard puts it) for 20 or 30 minutes before heading back.  While I'm feeling a little more relaxed about everything, I'm still cautious, especially since the Board of Health in town has restricted businesses from opening for in-person service until further notice.  

There is no vaccine, yet.  I bought shares in Moderna back in March.  They will probably have the first vaccine.  It's being tested on humans in Phase 3 now.  If all goes well, something will be ready to be mass produced by January, and ready for the rest of us by May at the earliest.

School is remote, 5th grade will be strange for Richard.  I will help him with his work, or at least monitor him.  He is doing very well and doesn't need much supervision.  I'm trying to figure out how to get him back with his piano teacher since they can't meet in person and it's difficult to do a lesson online.  I would like to figure it out so he has some sense of normalcy.  It's obvious his parents are stressed out.  I wonder what effect it's having on him.

Our little dog, Lucky, has grown a bit.  She's now about 2' long and stands about 12" at the most.  She's quite friendly and doesn't bark.  She's a good companion, even if she is not house-trained.  

Les Poules huppées

CRESTED HENS, THE (Les Poules huppées). French, Bourrée à 3 temps (3/8 time). E Dorian. Standard tuning (fiddle). Composed in 1983 by French...