Monday, October 22, 2018

How Horse Tail Hair Is Processed For Bows

Adapted from article in ©Strings Magazine. January/February 1995.

Though questions about the origins of “cat-gut” rarely come up in these days of synthetic strings, it is not uncommon for a customer to wonder about the history of the “horsehair” used for bows: Is it really hair? Does it really come from horses, and if so, what kind? What color should it be? And can anything definitive be said about its so-called “grab” or “bite”?

The answers to the first few questions are fairly simple. Though there is such a thing as “synthetic” hair on the market (we don’t recommend it, by the way), most bows are strung with actual hair from horses’ tails. Bow rehairers can choose from Siberian, Mongolian, Manchurian, Polish, and more recently, Argentinian horsehair; according to Joan Balter, a bow maker and repairer in Berkeley, California, stallion hair from Siberia is generally considered the best.

For various reasons, the kind of horsehair used makes a difference in the quality of the final product. Horsehair from animals in northern climates tends to be stronger, which Balter explains is nature’s response to coping with more frigid temperatures. The gender of the horse is also important; stallion hair is preferred because it is generally cleaner than that of mares, which tends to get hit with more urine spray.

Other factors that affect quality are consistency and color. Both players and bow makers value straight hair. “Hairs with irregular structures will cause weird, scratchy sounds,” says Balter. “It’s like hitting a pothole in your car.” Many bow rehairers prefer a white hair, particularly for violins and violas, because hair of this color is usually finer in texture. (There is, however, some disagreement about the extent to which color correlates with textural differences that affect sound.) Many bass and some cello players use the coarser black hair, which some say is “grabbier,” while others opt for a salt and pepper combination.

Slaughterhouse Horses
Horsehair is collected and processed in specific ways. Although some Chinese hair is cut from live animals, most hanks of horsehair are slaughterhouse by products, gathered from animals that have been killed for their meat, hide, and hooves. The hair is first cleaned with a mild soap or very mild detergent, then “dressed” for use in numerous products (which include baskets and brushes, to name a few items; bow hair comprises a relatively minor part of the horsehair industry as a whole). “Dressing” the hair involves gathering it up to make sure all of the hairs are approximately the same length; those that are too long or short are picked out, and the ends are evened up. At the same time, dressers check the hairs for straightness, strength, and consistency. Much of what constitutes high-quality hair depends on how it is dealt with at this stage. Hairs that are too short won’t fit into a standard bow, hairs with split ends will snap, and irregularities in the hair shaft can affect sound, so dressers must be selective.

Combing Hair
Despite the fact that horsehair has generally been dressed once or twice before it comes into a bow maker’s shop, many makers and repairers like to do a third round themselves, depending on exactly what they’re looking for. According to Steven Beckley, a bow maker and supplier of luthiers’ products in Los Altos, California, “It’s a very individual thing, whether a rehairer does another round of dressing. It goes anywhere from people cutting a hank of hair off a bundle and putting it in your bow, to people redressing by about 30 percent.”

At the stage when bow makers start working with their clients, an entirely new set of considerations comes into play. “We start to talk about ‘bite’,” says Beckley. “This is a wonderfully subjective thing that’s tough to quantify. I think people’s perceptions of horsehair come from some drawings from the turn of the century, which have little arms and fingers coming out of horsehairs, grabbing onto your strings. When you actually see photos of magnified hair, there aren’t barbs at all. I think bite comes from the hair’s ability to hold rosin.

Paul Guhn, bowmaker
“After a rehair, one person will call me and say, ‘This is great hair, it has wonderful bite,’ while another will ask, ‘What do you have that’s better? This stuff is just too slick.’ Along with the individual interpretation of what’s going on, how people treat the hair is important. If it has too much oil, I don’t think it’s going to accept rosin well. If it doesn’t have any oil, it’s going to be like dry, damaged hair. So some of the myths about rehairing come from the fact that one player is wiping down hair and putting on rosin in a way that it holds, and another isn’t.”

Joan Balter says that there are a few things that players, especially beginners, should understand about bow hair. “Often students wait too long to get a rehair,” she says. “When you break a lot of hairs on the playing side, you should get the bow rehaired or it will warp, because all of the pressure is on one side and it pulls the bow around. That can cause permanent damage.” Balter also stresses that dirt and oil are rosin’s worst enemies, so to make a bow rehair last, players should keep the hair clean and refrain from touching it with dirty hands.

Unbleached White
Lynn Hannings, a Maine-based bow maker, believes that the amount of hair really needed in a bow can be deceptive. “Players think that the more hair you have in there, the better. But the best possible sound comes from the smallest amounts of hair. Other-wise, you’re deadening the sound with layers and layers of hair.” Hanning emphasizes that for the student and professional alike, regular rehairs are an especially good idea for players living in a harsh climate. “The length of bow hair I would use for winter is much different than a rehair I do for summer. For winter I size it long, giving it the opportunity to shrink without doing damage to the stick. In spring I do the opposite, sizing on the short size, because I know that it’s going to be hot and muggy before too long, which will stretch the hair out.”

For further questions about caring for bow hair, feel free to contact me any time.

You may ask for a price list by filling out the contact form on the sidebar, or by calling or texting 413-561-2275 any time.

Friday, October 19, 2018


Openly Secular
Openly Secular Day serves as a call to action for those with a secular identity by encouraging openness and dialogue around one’s identity and beliefs. Some common secular identities include atheist, agnostic, secular humanist, freethinker, and secularist, though you are encouraged to identify however your beliefs are best described.

This year, we invite you to celebrate Openly Secular Day in two main ways:

  1. By contacting your representatives to tell them you’re a Secular Values Voter.
  2. By engaging in interfaith activities that foster mutual understanding across religious and philosophical divides.

Text Secular to 52885 Openly Secular is partnering with the Secular Coalition for America and their Secular Values Voter campaign, which seeks “to educate political candidates about the significant and rapidly growing secular constituency, the issues they care about, and the values for which they stand.” This Openly Secular Day, you can take part by contacting your representatives and letting them know that you’re a Secular Values Voter who believes in freedom, inclusion, equality, and knowledge, and who asks that all Americans be represented equally regardless of their faith or lack thereof.

You can contact your representatives any time to tell them you’re a Secular Values Voter. However, if you want to be sure to receive the Openly Secular Day action alert with specific messaging on October 19, sign up here or text the word “secular” to 52886.

This Openly Secular Day, we encourage secular groups and individuals to engage in interfaith activities to help foster a better understanding of secular identities—and to better understand the religious identity of others. The Know Your Neighbor campaign has lots of ideas for what to do; some of our favorite ideas are:

  • Invite a friend or neighbor with different religious beliefs out for coffee to exchange experiences about living with that belief identity.
  • Organize an interfaith dinner or other event and invite secular people as well as members of different faith-based communities.
  • Attend an already scheduled interfaith event in your community.

You can be Openly Secular in many different ways! If the above initiatives don’t work for you or you’re looking for additional Openly Secular Day activities, check out these ideas:

Host an Openly Secular Day of Service
Organizing an Openly Secular Day of Service is a great way to combat the common misconception that you need religion to be a good person. Get a group of secular individuals who want to do good in the world together and find a service opportunity that works for you. Here are some ideas:

  • Clean up a local park
  • Volunteer at a homeless shelter or soup kitchen
  • Run a clothing drive for a homeless shelter
  • Play games with residents at a nursing home

If you need other ideas, you can always contact local nonprofit organizations and ask if they have work they would like volunteers to help with. If you need other organizing help, contact the Center for Inquiry’s Outreach Department at

Spread Voter Registration Information
With a patchwork of state-level rules on voter registration, it can be frustrating to figure out where and how to get registered. Luckily, is a great resource. Simply enter your state, and you’ll be directed to accurate voter registration information. If Secular Values Voters want to be a political force, the first step is to make sure we’re properly registered to vote! Share the link with your friends and on social media to make sure other secular people are ready to vote come election day.

Tell One Person
It can be hard to be open about your secular identity, and it’s okay to keep it to yourself if you’re in a position where being open would be detrimental to you. However, there is no better way to combat the stigma of a secular identity than by secular people making their identities known to others. When people personally know someone with a marginalized identity, it’s more difficult to stigmatize or vilify the identity. They can observe firsthand that any myths they’ve heard about secular people aren’t true, which may make them question what else they may have gotten wrong about secular people. By simply telling one person about your secular identity, you can help make the world more accepting for those who may not be able to be openly secular right now.

No matter how you celebrate Openly Secular Day, be sure to participate via social media!

  • Use #SecularValues to tell the world that you’ve contacted your representatives and to talk about secular values
  • Use #OpenlySecular for everything else Openly Secular Day!

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

How to Critique Something Others Love

There will be times when you have to shut down others’ good ideas, reject their propositions, and critique the things they’ve worked hard in building. On the road toward the best ideas, auxiliary ones will fall by the wayside. They’ll be sacrificed for better ones to come through and become the norm. As a facilitator of positive growth, you’ll sometimes find yourself in positions that dictate you to make decisions. You can find yourself leading others, being a central decision maker, or a trusted adviser. Knowing how to critique the things that others hold dear to their hearts will be an important skill to possess.

There are people who are skilled in operating by way of quantifiable truth. They’re good at collecting evidence and forming arguments infused with good, reliable sources. They’re good at proving mediocre ideas, theories, and actions wrong with ones which are more aligned with truth. This article, does not attempt to arm you with skills in the quantitative realms of argumentation. It hopes to encourage you to look past those realms and into attempting to become a "maestro" of emotion. To expect humans to operate in emotionless ways in the face of being proven wrong is an unreliable pretense. This article aims to be a guide on enticing people to accept truths which go against what they lovingly believe, do, or possess.

What Intrinsic Factors Make Their Ideas, Habits, and Actions Good

An itch you’ll have to scratch will be one of validating others’ ideas in some form. Even if you have unsurpassed evidence for why what they believe, do, or possess is bad, hold tight for just a bit. First, focus on the aspects of what you seek to critique which enticed them to love it in the first place. Mention the intrinsically good aspects of what you’re attempting to disprove. Mention all the benefits. For instance, if critiquing the behavior of someone’s violent dog, mention the intrinsically good reasons for why that dog may be misbehaving. Attempt to touch on its aspects of being protective of its owner and of its territory. Focus on how good of a guardian that dog is.

Rather than opening with all the things intrinsically wrong with the dog’s behavior in that moment, you’d serve to comfort the owner in a time when most would act out in attack. Finding things which are intrinsically good is not difficult to do with an open mind. Simply focus on what possible reasons others have for liking a certain thing, idea, or behavior. Describe those reasons right back to them to validate your understanding of their psychology. They’ll go on to perceive you to be in tune with their truth, as truth to them, entails realizing the intrinsically good traits of what they possess, believe, or do.

What Extrinsic Unavoidable, External Factors Make It Bad

The next step in critiquing or disproving a truth which others hold dear, is to analyze how it clashes with its setting or environment. Think about how a dog’s setting or environment entices it to bark and attack. Think about how the roads make one specific car less effective than another in certain aspects. Think about what about the wind, rain, and sun, make one type of roof tile a better option than another. Rather than focusing on the intrinsic shortcomings of the things you’re criticizing, present the shortcomings to be related to the uncontrollable nature of the setting or environment.

In doing so, you’ll give people an excuse to agree with you. It’ll be a way out of being stuck in a mindset that dictates the defending of what they hold dear. They’ll have an easier time agreeing with you if you present the shortcomings of what they love to be caused by external, uncontrollable factors rather than ones which are intrinsic to that thing.

Once you develop an understanding of how much of a factor external variables play in the quality of someone’s truth, you can then list shortcomings safely. Each shortcoming of the thing you criticize should be connected to how it is misaligned with the world around it. Try not to present shortcomings as native to the thing you’re critiquing. Make it known that the car you’re critiquing in this instance, would be an amazing car if it were subject to different variables. Ensure to mention that you’ve seen the violent dog act kindly toward its owner and their kids, and that it must be an amazing dog when strangers aren’t around.

Motivate the people whose beloved things you criticize to evaluate how those things fit in the world that surrounds them. Rather than having them leave the conversation with you in a defensive mindset, attempt to establish one of growth. Be balanced and sensitive to emotion in your approach of critiquing the things that others like.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Wedding Music Planning

First Dance
I'm a wedding music planner.  I put together live music for every aspect of a wedding. 

Genres include

  • Classical string quartets, soloists, harpists.  
  • Chamber ensembles and orchestras.  
  • World music bands: celtic, klezmer/israeli, reggae, ska, calypso.  
  • Jazz ensembles.  
  • Traditional Ceilidh and Seisun (Irish) duos and trios - up to a 5 piece seisun.  
  • Bluegrass bands.  
  • Country bands.  
  • Blues and Rock.  
The only thing I do not do is set up DJ or MC services.  For that, you will need to find a DJ/MC professional.  I can make some recommendations of pros I've worked with over the last 30 years. 

Monday, October 8, 2018

I import horse hair tail for making bows

Adam Sweet's Horse Tail Hair For Bows

visually sorting
I buy my tail hair from a slaughterhouse in Harbin, China.  The animals are from Mongolia and Siberia.  They come across the border in cattle cars and are processed in one location.  I arrange to have them shipped to a workshop in Anping, where they are drawn, sorted, and packed for me in small batches of no more than 5 kilos at a time.  All of my tail hair is triple drawn and visually sorted.  The sorting process is meticulous.  I have personally visited this workshop several times over the last 18 years to ensure the quality stays the same.  I have not had a single bundle of hair returned since 1999.  More pics on my facebook page here

I provide free shipping in the Continental US, and whatever the rate is for DHL Express everywhere else.  I take PayPal.
  • Natural White: triple drawn, visually sorted - high quality unbleached white.  Perfect for most bows.
  • Mixed White & Brown: (sometimes called Fiddler's hair) triple drawn, visually sorted.  Best for cello and carbon fiber bows for fiddlers.
  • Black: triple drawn, visually sorted.  Best for baroque and bass bows.

Message me for pricing.  Due to fluctuations in the market and Trump's tariffs, prices change frequently.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Webdesign Client: Berkshire Batteria

In 1999, I flew to Egypt with my musical partner, Brian Bender, to perform Irish and Klezmer music at the Great Pyramids in Cairo.  There, I met Jim Weber, a fine musician and percussionist.  On the airplane back, he asked me to design a website for one of his projects, the Berkshire Bateria, he wanted to call it "Sambaland". is the website.

Berkshire Bateria
THE BERKSHIRE BATERIA is a lively troupe of musicians who perform hot samba rhythms on traditional Brazilian percussive instruments. To learn more about our percussion wing, The Berkshire Bateria, CLICK HERE

"JOY OF SAMBA WORKSHOP" explores the magic of traditional Batucada, the street samba of carnival in Brazil. Participants will be exposed to performing on traditional Brazilian instruments and will have a chance to work with pandeiru, ganza, surdo, agogo, tamborim, cuica an berimbau. If you're interested in hearing more about our Joy of Samba Percussion Workshops, please contact us.

SAMBALAND was founded in 1994 by Teri and Jim Weber. Their mission is to provide authentic Brazilian music to the Berkshires and beyond with Bossa Triba, The Berkshire Bateria, and Joy of Samba Percussion Workshops.

Jim Weber is a master percussionist and leader of The Berkshire Bateria.  His studies of Brazilian music brought him to the Drummers Collective of Manhattan, (Duduka Du Fonseca, and Bobby Sanabria), The Brazilian Cultural Center of New England, (Deraldo Ferreira) Manhattan Samba (Ivo Arujo) and each year travels to Salvador, Bahia, Brazil to continue his work.

Teri Weber, Leader and vocalist of Bossa Triba, enkindles the spirit of Brazil in her smooth and elegant vocal style. Teri is a vocalist, dancer, and percussionist, having studied from masters of Brazilian music and dance in both the United States and Brazil. Her studies of Jazz and Samba over two decades authenticate her sensual interpretation of Bossa Nova.    

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Apple Hill Center for Chamber Music

The Apple Hill Center for Chamber Music is a center of chamber music performance and teaching founded in 1971 and situated on 100 acres (40 ha) of fields and woodlands in Nelson, New Hampshire, in the United States. It is stewarded today by the organization's director, Leonard Matczynski, and ensemble-in-residence, the Apple Hill String Quartet. These professional musicians present concerts and educational workshops throughout the world and, during the summer, teach and coach chamber music to participants of all ages and levels at Apple Hill’s Chamber Music Workshop.

Each summer, Apple Hill welcomes 300 students and 45 faculty to the Workshop program. Over 12,000 students have attended since the early 1970s.

Apple Hill was one of my first web design clients.  I was hired in 1999 to design and develop a website and internet presence for this nonprofit music school. 

The original Apple Hill Chamber Players, c. 1973 : Back row left to right: Beth Pearson, cello; Robbie Merfeld, piano; John Laughton, clarinet; Betty Hauck, viola; Eric Stumacher, piano; Richard Hartshorne, string bass
Seated left to right: Freddie Ortiz, violin; Julie Feves, bassoon; Fred Cohen, oboe; Jimena Lasansky, dancer; David Jolley, horn
Seated front: Bonnie Insull, flute

Apple Hill began as the brainchild of Gene Rosov, a young cellist and Harvard undergrad who taught cello at the All-Newton Music School in a suburb of Boston. Inspired by his experience as a teenager at Greenwood Music Camp in Cummington, Massachusetts, Gene’s dream was to start a chamber music camp for his own students and their friends and siblings. His first camp session took place on a borrowed property in Hinsdale, New Hampshire in 1968. The original plan was for the camp to be part of a ski development that was being built in Kingfield, Maine by a friend of Gene’s, John Marden, and the next two summers “Bigelow Mountain Music Camp” as it was then called took place on rented properties in Kingfield. But then because of a recession the idea of a ski development was abandoned.  With the generous support of Lee Gillespie, Best Foods heiress, Gene secured the Apple Hill property in Nelson, New Hampshire in 1971. Gene’s camp finally had a permanent home and The Center for Chamber Music at Apple Hill was incorporated as a non-profit the same year. The property consisted of 100 acres of field and forest on a sloping hill with a western view of the mountains of Vermont and an original 1790 farmhouse, two barns, a sugar house, and numerous outbuildings and cabins in various states of dilapidation.

Students came mostly from the Boston area and ranged in age from 9 to 18 years old. Faculty were friends of Gene, notably the pianist Robbie Merfeld whom Gene had first met at Greenwood, and friends of friends with connections through Kinhaven Music Camp as well as Greenwood, Aspen Music Festival, Oberlin College, Juilliard School of Music, and Brandeis University. While the original focus of Apple Hill was the summer educational program, the faculty were all young performing artists who enjoyed reading and playing chamber music together, presenting informal concerts for the students and in nearby venues. Dan Savage, the husband of faculty cellist Beth Pearson, was an amateur horn player and tenor who was attending Harvard Business School during the school year and teaching at Apple Hill in the summer. It was through his enthusiastic entrepreneurship that The Apple Hill Chamber Players (precursor of the current Apple Hill String Quartet) was born in 1973. The first concert took place at the Horace Mann School in New York City and was followed by successful concert series in New Hampshire, Boston, Philadelphia, and Lincoln Center in New York City.

All arts organizations rely on donors and Apple Hill was fortunate to receive generous local support in the early days, notably from Louise Shonk Kelly, an amateur pianist and philanthropist who lived in nearby Dublin, New Hampshire. It is in her honor that the concert barn was named.

The summer educational programs continued to expand and evolve over the years from an all-summer camp for teenagers to five 10-day sessions for all ages. The Players were what is known as a “flexible ensemble” and included a string quartet, two pianists, string bass, and wind quintet. Over the years the Players consolidated into a piano and string group with occasional guest wind players. In the fall of 1973, several of the Players decided to move from the city and make Apple Hill their year-round home. As the Chamber Players became better known, they began to tour regionally, then nationally, and eventually, in 1989, internationally, through the Playing for Peace program.

Gene eventually left Apple Hill to pursue other business ventures and after successfully launching the Chamber Players, Dan Savage also moved on to other pursuits. The directorship of Apple Hill was passed on to Pat Minot for a few years, then to Carla Press for a brief period, and Eric Stumacher, one of the two pianists, eventually became Executive Director. The Chamber Players made all artistic decisions, such as repertoire and choice of guest artists, collectively, through consensus. Over the years various players/faculty came and went but a core group of players made up of Robbie Merfeld and Eric Stumacher, both pianists, Betty Hauck, viola, and Richard (“Dobbs”) Hartshorne, string bass, who joined Apple Hill in 1974, were a steady presence until the mid-1990s. The violinist Mowry Pearson, cousin of Beth, also spent many years as part of the Apple Hill Chamber Players. Other violinists included Valerie Vilker Kuchment, who was from Russia and is presently a member of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and Anthony Princiotti, who went on to conduct the Dartmouth Symphony Orchestra for many years.

Over time a philosophy of teaching and community-building evolved at Apple Hill that was based on mutual respect, acceptance, listening to each other, and supporting and cultivating each student’s unique abilities, no matter what their skill level or experience.

The buildings and grounds at Apple Hill also evolved as time went on. Cabins were replaced, outbuildings were torn down, and major renovations took place, including the concert barn restoration by local architect Rick Monahan. With the help of a generous grant from the Kresge Foundation the Rehearsal Barn was renovated with expanded practice facilities.

In 1989, the Playing for Peace program was launched with the help of Eric Stumacher; Phillip Levy, a Welsh/Israeli violinist and member of the Players; Harriet Feinberg, Apple Hill recruiter and peace activist; Arthur Cohen, a local Keene doctor and supporter of Apple Hill; and generous donors and federal cultural agencies. The Players traveled to Israel to give chamber music workshops for students, play concerts, and award scholarships to both Jewish and Palestinian Israeli students to come study at Apple Hill in the summer. With the help of Martin Quinn, who worked for the U.S. State Department, this program expanded over the years to include other Middle Eastern countries (Syria, Egypt, and Jordan) as well as Turkey, Morocco, Poland, Ireland, and Cyprus. In 1992, a PBS special was made about one of the trips that the Players took to the Middle East for the Playing for Peace Program.

In 2008, longtime Apple Hill faculty and violist Lenny Matczynski took over the leadership of Apple Hill as the Artistic and Executive Director. That year, the Apple Hill Chamber Players became the Apple Hill String Quartet, when longtime Chamber Players Elise Kuder, violin; Mike Kelley, viola; and Rupert Thompson, cello, were joined by Sarah Kim, violin, to create a string quartet in residence. Violinist Colleen Jennings joined the group in 2013, replacing Sarah Kim.

By this time the Playing for Peace program expanded to include trips to the Caucuses areas of Russia, East Asia, and to U.S. cities as well as continued trips to the Middle East, the United Kingdom, and the Republic of Ireland.

With the support of a new generation of donors, Apple Hill set to work revitalizing the facilities, now over 40 years old. New buildings included the year-round Hoffman Auditorium, built with the help of the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) and Community Development Finance Authority (CDFA) programs; the Bath and Shower Barn, built with the help of the USDA Rural Development Program; and more than half of the 24 cabins scattered across the campus. The 1790 farmhouse received a fresh coat of paint and the interior was redesigned to reflect the growing staff. The iconic sugar house received a major renovation in 2016 and since 2008 the grounds have been improved with flower, herb, and vegetable gardens – landscaping worthy of the beautiful rural setting.

The summer workshops continue to be a vital centerpiece of Apple Hill. All five summer sessions are fully enrolled with participants from the international and domestic Playing for Peace program alongside musicians of all levels and ages from around the globe – 300 students in all, coached by 45 faculty.

The ideals of the Apple Hill Community that originated years ago still exist today: a community built on mutual respect, acceptance, listening to each other, and supporting and cultivating each other’s unique abilities, no matter what skill level or experience. The ideals of the Apple Hill community are similar to those of chamber music – a collective voice of mutual cooperation where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.

Monday, October 1, 2018

Musician Websites & Social Media Profiles

One of the things I love to do is to design websites for musicians, and create social media profiles.  Since I first started this in 1998, the internet has changed drastically.  And the advent of social networks like Myspace and later Facebook, Twitter, and later Instagram, Pinterest and later SnapChat have made it increasingly difficult for musicians to get their profiles in front of the most people at one time.  It used to be very easy.   All it took was to have a website and a Myspace profile.  Most people would search for the musician on Myspace and if they liked them, follow a link to their website.  But now it's incredibly complicated.  In order to get the most exposure, musicians MUST have profiles on all of the typical social networks (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Google+), as well as the music networks: Spotify, iTunes, Google Play, Amazon Music, BandCamp, Reverb, IndieOnTheMove, and SonicBids.  And if musicians want to get gigs, they have to be listed on and as well as sites like for wedding gigs.  Music teachers must have active profiles on, and  All of these sites cost money.  Facebook, Twitter, Instagram cost money to advertise (otherwise the pages will stay low in the algorithms, making it impossible for fans to find them unless they actively search.

So what is a musician to do?  

They must either hire someone like me to create and regularly update all of these platforms, or they must do it themselves using one of the "free" platforms such as Wix, Weebly, Bandzoogle, Bandcamp,  or Noisetrade.

Why would a musician want to do it themselves?  

In the long run, it won't save you any money.  Most of these "free" sites are not really free.  They give you a 30 day free trial, and then you have to register or they will drop you (keeping your information but no way for fans to contact you).  The other "free sites" such as Blogger, and Wordpress have a steep learning curve and it's practically a full time job keeping all of these profiles updated and current.  You will end up spending more time on social media (which is what they want) than practicing your instrument, learning new material, and playing gigs.

Wouldn't it be better to hire someone to do this for you?

Here's where I come in.  I do this for a living.  I'm super efficient and can get you up and running with the 9 most important sites within a few hours.  Updating takes a couple hours a week.  Getting you gigs and keeping your calendar busy becomes your primary focus, and I take over all of your social media marketing.

What does it cost?

It's not that much considering how much time it would take you to do it all every week.  My rates are super affordable.  I'm a musician too and I know how it works.  Contact me, we can work it out!  

Friday, September 28, 2018

On Branding and New Products from Holyoke

A company in Holyoke hired me recently to design a website and develop a marketing plan.  The company doesn't have any money to pay me my fee or regular wages, so we worked out a deal where I get a a percentage of the profits once the business starts making money.

The challenge of developing a brand is a difficult one.  In order for someone to recognize something, they have to see it a minimum of ten (10) times, and in order for them to interact with it, they have to see it one hundred (100) times.  This is why companies put their logo on every part of a product, marketing literature, website, social media. 

Mando Mo Strings
This new client is called Mando Mo Strings.  They import acoustic stringed instruments from China.  The company was started about 2 years ago when Al the owner was doing some research into buying guitars.  He was playing guitar at the time.  Because of his interest in bluegrass and country music, he got into mandolins soon after that and hired me to teach him how to play mandolin.  We got to talking and I discovered he had all these mandolins and guitars laying around in his house.  He hadn't sold any of them and his wife was threatening to divorce him.  I suggested a few ways to market them.  One thing led to another, and now I'm building the brand for the company. 

Since I started, several things have happened.  Al created a business, filed the information with the sate and the city of Holyoke, and opened a bank account.  Meanwhile, I designed a website, created a Facebook page and other social media profiles.  We've had a few sales!  And while that's good, it's not the purpose of the brand building exercise.  My goal is to increase awareness of the brand by 100% over the next six months.  If we get a few sales in the process that is fine.

So far, so good.

I have a lot of experience building brands for companies.  In 1993, I helped Dr. Hauschka Cosmetics build their brand.  In 1998, I was hired by Herbs for Kids to build their brand, Wise Ways Herbals in '99.  Apple Hill Center for Chamber Music that same year, and since then, I've worked on literally hundreds of products and brands primarily in the natural and music industries.

If you would like some assistance in building your brand, fill out the contact form on the sidebar!

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

A Challenging Social Media Project

Helping Those Who Can't Help Themselves
I have been hired by a dual-language nonprofit in Holyoke to provide remote IT support for members and social media updates to their various profiles on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.  They started paying me cash in bits and pieces because they couldn't afford my regular fee.  Because of their nonprofit status and the work they do in the area, I decided to help out in whatever way I could.  In fact, the first week's work was gratis.  Now they pay me an hourly wage, still not my regular fee, but it's something.  But to me, it doesn't even matter what they pay me.  These people are literally angels on earth, if you believe that sort of thing. 

Families in Western MA close to homelessness
I can't divulge any information about the company due to a contract I signed, but I can tell you about what they do.  They are primarily a Spanish-speaking group that works with individuals who are down and out.  These are people on the edge of homelessness, who, for no fault of their own, do not have the wherewithal to save themselves or their children.  Whether it be due to lack of education, lack of understanding of English (and therefor can't read even simple instructions), lack of understanding available resources, and in some cases, lack of legal immigration status, these people are ripe for abuse by the local "authorities", scammers and drug dealers.  This group hears about these people by their outreach in the community, goes in, talks to them in their own language, finding out what their immediate needs are.  And through working with them, they figure out what their long term needs are (ESL classes, Green Card application assistance, Social Security application, SNAP benefits, etc), and get them on the path to health and prosperity.  They work closely with the medical community, the legal community, many of these people also volunteering their time and expertise.  Their endgame is to get these people into affordable housing and on the path to health and happiness

Home Is Where Your Family Is Healthy
I'm honored to be included in this righteous effort.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Thoughts on Fall / Winter Studio Space

Unfortunately the "sun room" at the new house in Granby is too cold for the fall/winter. We found that out on Sunday when some mandolin folks came for a rehearsal before the concert at Porter Phelps. So for the fall/winter season, lessons both private and group will be downstairs. If you come a bit early, you may sit on the wooden chairs in the sun-room and wait your turn. It's nice and cozy! I set it up today. I'm going to see if I can barter for some electric work to put up some better lights.

The lesson space

The instruments I teach (ukulele not pictured)

Mandolins and a fiddle

Whiteboard area

Stairs going up to the sunroom

Monday, September 10, 2018

Celticado Reviews

"Celticado performed for our wedding ceremony and cocktail hour. They did a wonderful job. People are still commenting about how unique and beautiful the music was.  Adam and Jim met with us about a month before the wedding to go over all the songs with us and let us choose what we wanted to be played for each part of the afternoon. When I first met with them I really wanted to have them play Pachelbel's Canon in D for me to walk down the aisle to. But after they played some celtic songs that I could walk down the aisle to that were so heartwarming and tear-jerking I was sold. It was great to have a beautiful song that was different that most other brides.   Thank you Adam and Jim for being such a great duo!" ~ Crystal S

"They were very friendly, accommodating and prompt in communication. We were impressed by their energy and stamina. They played for 3 hours with barely a break and kept the music lively and beautiful for our wedding reception. If we ever need music for another event we will hire them again without hesitation." ~ Dana S.

“We can't thank Celticado enough for making our cocktail hour at our wedding! From the time we inquired about them to the end of the party , we had the best experience! They have such a wonderful acoustic sound and our family loved the traditional Irish music. They were also very affordable!” ~ Alexandra S.

"Celticado lifted our son's wedding rehearsal BBQ with their lively tunes and professionalism. Our BBQ was held in a rustic setting and Celticado was most accommodating to our needs. So many of our guests commented on how perfect their Celtic music was as a backdrop to a fun filled evening under the stars. Celticado was very accommodating in advance, too, as we planned the evening's schedule. If you're looking for a classy, smooth Celtic ensemble, you'll find it in Celticado." ~ Rita O.

"This acoustic traditional folk music is BEAUTIFULLY done. The sound is extraordinary, the musicianship fantastic, the studio work excellent" ~ NWS106, Jamendo Music

"Celticado was formed in 2004 by two of the Pioneer Valley's most sought-after celtic musicians: Adam Sweet and Jim Bunting. They play a lively selection of traditional folk musics of the Celtic lands and beyond." ~ Daily Hampshire Gazette

"Lovely music, our guests were so appreciative. Thank you!"
~ Linda & George O'Malley

"Thank you for such beautiful music for our wedding. We were lifted by the beauty of it."
~ Catherine & Jim Shane

"Your music reminded our grandparents of their childhood in Ireland. Thank you, thank you."
~ Mary & John O'Reilly

"We were thrilled to find a traditional Celtic group for our wedding. Thank you for the beautiful music and good times."
~ Wendy & Ralph Peters

"Wow, you guys sound like a full 5 piece band! How you get that big band sound, I don't know, but I love it."
~ Jim Holland (and his family), Florence, MA

"I knew you guys were ready and hot to play with the first bow to string!"
~ Louise Dunphy, Celtic Crossings, WMUA 91.1 FM

"Please play Cooley's again. I love the way you start that song. It brings me back to my childhood in Ireland."
~ Loving Bette and friends, Leeds, MA

"You sound great! It's great to hear you play."
~ Kathryn, Organizer of the Basement Irish Seisun

"Thank you, thank you! The music was beautiful...most of the guests complimented us on our choice of music at the wedding."
~Tildy Greene, Mother of the Bride, Smythe wedding 2007

"Lovely made me weep. Slainte!"
~Maire, grandmother of the bride, Smythe wedding 2007

"Where are you playing next?"
~Sandra Connor, Hildebrandte wedding 2007

Mandolin New England

Mandolin New England
Mandolin New England is an organization consisting of members of Adam Sweet's Classical Group class in Granby, MA and colleagues and friends from New York, western Mass and Rhode Island.  The group performs concerts in Hadley, South Hadley, Holyoke, Northampton, and Granby MA.

The group is free to join!  If you play mandolin, mandola, mandocello or bass, we'd love to have you with us.  SMS 413-561-2275 any time, or email with your cell/email and we'll send you a link so you can download sheet music.

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.  (Click here for a video of that concert.  Skip to 25:00 for the Brandenburg part of the concert.)

The orchestra is comprised of students of Adam Sweet's Classical Group class, and area colleagues.  The class is open to anyone with 2 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.  Learn more about the group classes offered here