Monday, January 31, 2022

COVID Update

The pandemic has been very long and quite frankly depressing. As many of you know, I am not able to be in the presence of others unless they are multi-layered with masks and PPE due to underlying conditions. I was hoping, that after the 3rd dose of the vaccine, I would be protected well enough so that I could resume in person lessons. I have since been instructed by my family medicine provider, that it is best if I stay remote if at all possible. To that end, all private lessons will continue to be remote. Group classes, such as the mandolin group that typically meets Monday nights and the Celtic group that typically meets Thursday nights will remain offline until further notice. My deepest and most sincere apologies for this situation. I wish it were different.  Thank you for your patience.

Adam Sweet

Thursday, January 27, 2022

2022 Rental Program

2022 Rentals

A notice about the violin rental program:
 we still have student violin outfits (Palatino) for rent.  The cost is $30 a month with a $200 deposit (refundable).   The minimum rental period is 3 months.  The outfit comes with a padded case, carved solid wooden violin, wooden bow, rosin and case straps.  It's missing a shoulder rest.  We have them for sale for $25 each.  You can upgrade to Adam Sweet's Fiddler's Bow for an additional $125 (and get to keep the bow) as the wooden bow that comes with the case is only mediocre.

Mandolin rental program: 
we have a wide variety of options this year.  For example, you can rent a Mando Mo A or F style mandolin with a hardshell case for only $75 a month (and a $500 refundable deposit).  These are gorgeous mandolins!  Air-dried tonewood, American steel frets, German Optima hand-wound strings, solid tailpieces, TUSQ nuts, MOP and Abalone inlay and Brekke adjustable bridges.  We can't believe we can offer these instruments for rent.  The program is rent to buy.   50% of the rental fee goes to the purchase of the instrument!  Email with the word "mando mo rental" in the subject line to get some more information about that.  You can set up a time to try out the instrument in person (socially distanced of course), or Adam can play it for you online so you can see it and hear what it sounds like before renting it.

In addition to mandolins, we have mandocellos and mandolas for rent.  Please ask!

Student Roster 2022

We are absolutely blessed with such wonderful students!  Their patience and persistence coupled with their flexibility to roll with requirements here at the studio, make it so much more pleasurable to work with them than one could imagine!

2022 Student Roster

Coming back for another year is Keith Higginson.  Keith joined the original mandolin group class in 2014.  At the time, he was living in Leominster, MA, so the drive was about 45 minutes each way.  Now, 8 years later, he relishes the fact that lessons are online and there's no driving involved!  Principal mandolinist with the Granby contingent of Mandolin New England, Keith is working his way through the JS Bach (violin) Partitas and Sonatas.

Another long-timer, Will Melton, is no longer taking mandola lessons, but retains his top spot in Mandolin New England as our historian and mandola-ist (sp?).  Will still lives in South Hadley, but since his retirement from UMass, has had a lot of exciting adventures all over the world.

Linda N. has been taking violin lessons since 2010.  First in South Hadley, Linda followed the studio as it moved to West State St, Center Church, Open Square and finally Granby.  Linda prefers to take in person lessons, so she hasn't been able to attend anything since the pandemic in 2020, with one brief appearance in the summer of 2021.  Here's hoping to restart IN person lessons in 2022!  Linda is now studying classical violin, specifically Bach.

Nancy K. is on her 7th year at the studio.  Also a member of Mandolin New England, she has studied tenor mandola, alto mandola and mandolin.  Nancy is currently working her way through JS Bach's (violin) partitas and sonatas.

Wesley Autio, mandolin, has been taking lessons in person at the studio since 2010.  Wes is a founding member of the Celtic Group Class (Celtic Calamity), but since March of 2020, he has decided to go on a break until the Covid19 situation has come to some resolution.  Wes's son Zac also took lessons on mandolin and fiddle  for a year while the studio was in South Hadley.  

April Nicotera takes fiddle lessons in person out of the studio in Granby when she can, but is super flexible and willing to take remote lessons if necessary.  April has worked her way through the first 2 Waltz Books by Bill Mathieson, many tunes from the Fiddler's Fake Book by David Brody, and the original 6 sets of tunes from the Celtic Group Class.  Enthusiastic and vivacious, April also plays bass drum in a local fife and drum corps. 

David Ross is currently in his third year of the mandolin.  He was given a beautiful A-style mandolin for Christmas one year and has been with the studio since.  Starting out in-person, David was amenable to going remote during the brunt of the pandemic, returning to in-person lessons over the summer of 2021.  Because of the onslaught of the Delta and Omnicron variants, David feels happy to return to remote learning until further notice.  David has worked on Celtic and Bluegrass mandolin for the first two years, and is now working his way through JS Bach (violin) partitas and sonatas.

Dallas Ducar has been working with us for a couple years.  Starting originally with her partner and kids on guitars and mandolins, schedules and other conflicts reduced them to one lesson a week instead.  Dallas is originally from Arizona.  She's an RN with Mass General Hospital, clearheaded and a joy to work with!

Sharon E. is one of the more recent members of the studio.  She joined us in 2021, and is taking bi-monthly fiddle lessons remotely from her home near Marblehead, MA (north of Boston).  Sharon is working through the Fiddler's Fake Book by David Brody and is interested in Celtic music.

Walter Poxton is our newest member of  the studio. He started mandocello lessons in January 2022.  He's a long-time classical cello player, studying the greats and playing in orchestras and chamber ensembles for years before taking a break with career and family.  It was logical for him to pick up the mandocello because fingering it is very similar to the violincello.  Walter wants to learn some blues and folk styles.

Over the December break, the studio was hired for 3 fiddle lessons for a gentleman colloquially named "Buddy" in Northfield, MA.  There's no expiration date on those lessons.  We're looking forward to working with him when he's ready to start.

Missing due to the Pandemic:

  • Karen Adamski, mandolin
  • Karen P., fiddle
  • Mike R., mandolin
  • Amy G., fiddle
  • Louisa N., fiddle

Monday, January 17, 2022

Mando Mo Strings Holyoke, MA

Mando Mo Strings is a company in Holyoke, MA, the birthplace of American Industry, that has developed a line of affordable musical instruments made with top quality materials and workmanship.  These instruments are on par or better than similar brands, such as Eastman, TDK, The Loar and Northfield.  The instruments are designed in Holyoke, Massachusetts, assembled in China, and finished/set up in the US.

Here's a post I wrote in 2018.  Some of the text is a little dated.  If you would like to try any of the instruments, please contact me to set up a time.  Due to Covid19, restrictions apply.

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...