Music is Hard!

The Instrument. (Image © 2021 F. P. Dorchak)

The Instrument. (Image © 2021 F. P. Dorchak)

So hard.

Okay, maybe it’s just the violin.

Man, I got back from my violin lesson yesterday and some things I did well…and others, not so…well. Curiously I got the most complicated aspects of one of my lesson pieces better than one tune I’ve been working on since June. Apparently, I’ve been doing the June piece wrong all this time.

Wonderful.

That is so frustrating. And I mean that.

You think with your adult reasoning mind you can “figure things out”…and you’d be wrong. Unless you have musical training or find you have magical musical abilities you’ve never traded upon in your entire adult life. And I have neither. I’m honestly not trying to circumvent any of my training, though I think my instructor might have her doubts, I just figured that I was using the Evil Metronome, doing my best at timing the rhythm, and it all sounded like I was on the right track. What I’d forgotten about was doing the hand clapping of the rhythm and the other methods she’d shown me on another piece I had serious rhythm issues with. It’s not that I only did those methods on that certain piece—I’d done them on all of them in the beginning, but I figured I’d gotten better at internalizing it and started not physically doing it all the time on every piece, but doing it in my head. It really extends out my training sessions almost double. Which is exhausting…and learning hard things is exhausting.

I no longer tell myself, “Gee, I got this pretty darned good!” because my instructor usually schools me otherwise. But I have to admit that on the above tune I didn’t do well in yesterday, I thought it sounded pretty…decent.

Nope.

And she’s not mean or any kind of “Taskmistress-y.” She’s calm and supportive and patient. And I mean patient.

Have I mentioned she’s patient?

But I feel embarrassed at warping her methods in my well-meaning ways and not getting any of the results.

The upside of all this was that on that difficult piece I’d mentioned, I wasn’t sure how I’d done, and she said I did really well—more so than the easier portions of the same tune (Bach’s Minuet 2)! In fact, she was so impressed at how well I’d one that she asked me (several times!) what I’d done differently in working on that section.

At first I thought it a trick question and she was gonna rub my nose in it (no—she really does not do that, either), but she genuinely wanted to know what I’d done differently, and I told her nothing that I knew…except that I maybe devoted slightly more time to it? You know, because it was so tricky? Or perhaps that I’d just told myself to stop thinking of it as “difficult” and just dive into all the fancy finger work?

I just don’t recall doing anything differently.

Thing is, with all that I’m supposed to do with my lessons, now, it takes a lot more time doing the four-or-five-step process of learning and performing rhythm, which I seem so challenged in. Hard. Like so hard. Like the rest of the world, she says. I practice 1-2 hours a day, sometimes three if I can sneak in an extra afternoon session, pretty much seven days a week, and it’s hard to do all that stuff every time with every piece. And as much as I love doing it all, sometimes, like now, I just feel mentally spent—I’ve tried my best and this is all I have to show for it?!

You know the feeling: it’s exactly like beating your head against a brick wall. Except I’m the one not performing the proper rhythm.

But I will forge onward!

If I want to get better at this infuriating-if-beautiful instrument I have to put in the time and effort (and exactly why had I picked the hardest danged instrument to learn…one that literally takes years and years to be any kind go “good” at it, having started at 59 years of age? Started, mind you.). There is no easy way out. None. I’ve just inadvertently proved that to myself. I wasn’t trying…it just proved itself out along the way, because I was trying to better my own practice methods. Thought I’d internalized some of these techniques already—

But, no–no, I hadn’t. And it was foolish of me to even consider that I had.

Bad dog.

Listen to your instructor. Even if you think you know yourself, here, in music you don’t. I don’t. Your instructor knows you better than you know yourself when it comes to learning the violin. And when I hear other adults telling people that they’ve taught themselves the violin without an instructor, I simply have to [largely] not believe them. Unless they possess some of the above superhuman abilities. I’ve mentioned this before…I’ve “flown” some complicated satellites in my day, and this…I find this ever-so-much harder than any of that. Even if you understand the math behind the music (which I do), you have to train your body to perform the math. Perform the music. And translating music to arm-and-finger movements isn’t (at least to me, anyway) easy. Perhaps I’m just challenged in that way.

There’s no easy way out!

I have to do what I’m told. Exactly. When I do…things progress well. When I don’t, things do not progress well…and I feel I’ve wasted both my and my instructor’s time. It wasn’t intentional…some weeks are just—oh, never mind…just do as your told, dammit!

So, back to the hand clapping and note voicing and open-string playing and Muse-affecting sacrifice submissions I’m not at liberty to divulge…all before I strike even one note on a string. But more importantly?

Hand clapping of the rhythm.

So.

I will. Because I want to get as good as I possibly can get with the rest of the time I have left here, on Earth…and I want to learn all the my instructor has to teach me. I want to be good at playing the violin before I pass on from these mortal coils!

But for right now, I think I’m going to return to that cold, dark, dank, and humid little corner of our crawlspace and finish crying out my pain…out of rhythm, of course—

I’ll clap it out later.

Other Violin Posts

Posted in Music, To Be Human | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

New Bullworker Workout

Disclaimer

I am NOT a medical nor fitness professional, so always consult your medical, physical therapists, or fitness professionals for advice and direction before undertaking any new fitness regime. All such undertakings are at your own risk.

***

I’ve crammed a lot into this post, so please read through all of it and read the given links. The better an understanding you have of what it is you’re doing, the more you’ll get out of any fitness routine.

Introduction

Follow the Bullworker manual and website for all Bullworker-specific exercises.

Follow proper Bullworker form.

And if you can get through all this (or hunt it out), I have a 10% discount code for Bullworker equipment near the bottom of this post! I am NOT paid for publishing this post by Bullworker and was NOT asked by Bullworker to post this article, but I do get a percentage from anyone using my discount code. This post is all on my own and about my excitement over an incredible piece of fitness equipment!

What follows below is my own, newly developed workout regime. I only show those Bullworker exercises I’m doing, but there are many more in the manuals , as well as whatever your own creativity can come up with!

My in-gym workouts depend on what equipment is available for use at the time, but it is the standard fare available in gym machine format. I am refraining from free weight use. I no longer need to perform them and doing so might get me in trouble once again, as in I might inadvertently go heavier than I need to. I’m also trying to cut down my in-gym time, and using machines are just quicker. Though I am currently doing three sets in the gym, I may cut that back to one or two, since I no longer need the intensity I once performed, given all that I’m presenting here, and the desire for brevity. I also no longer need heavy gym workouts because I’m getting the strength training through the Bullworker. I no longer need “size training” at the gym (hence scaling back on the number of sets as well as their intensity). At sixty, I no longer need to get bigger (though that has always been an issue for me anyway, with my extremely fast metabolism), which brings a host of other issues back into the mix, such as needing to eat more calories to fuel those workouts (aaarggghhh, I’m so done eating massive amounts of food, though others may not think I am!), and working out harder to get bigger, and possibly injuring myself again. I’m in a damned good place right now.

And this is important: heavy training will also most likely lead to physical damage in later years, not so much muscle related (but it could be, as in my previous surgeries and my left biceps severe tendinosis), but joint related, as I’ve seen with other people who’ve continued to do heavy weightlifting well into their later years. Even if you start late in life, you could still very well damage tendons, ligaments, and cartilage that is no longer twenty, thirty, or even forty years old. I don’t know one person who’s doing heavy lifting into their 60s, 70s, and 80s and beyond who have not had surgeries and/or other issues. And I’ve clearly had my own problems, even while doing “everything right” (see “Surgery Post Links” at the end of this post).

That is why for my new routine I’ve decided to incorporate both in-gym and at-home Bullworker programs (though you could very well bring the Bullworker into the gym and actually do the isometrics before doing the machine reps!), as well as performing a full body routine with both programs. A few of those reasons are:

  • My schedule. I frequently miss a workout day due to something coming up.
    • Missing one or more workout sessions won’t really impact your progress, because according to isometrics training, you only need one isometrics session/week to maintain your strength.
  • We burn more calories when incorporating the gym.
    • I found it extremely difficult to determine how many calories are burned during isometric training, because of the inherent variables associated with isometrics. The most specific guidance I found was about 4-5 calories a minute for a 174-pound person (I’m in the 197 -203 pounds range). When I worked out at the gym and did cardio there, I burned about 1,000 calories during a weightlifting and cardio 1.5 – 2 hour session (cardio usually burns 350 – 500+ calories for me, depending if I use the Elliptical or Stair Stepper machines). With the Bullworker, I’m just not sure. I may burn about 300-350 calories just doing the Bullworker in an hour, given what little I found online, but cannot find any definitive caloric measurements. Bullworker has said they were looking into this.
  • Gym isotonic movements—I want to keep these isotonic movements! While doing so, I’m not doing them to exhaustion while incorporating the Bullworker routine–that would be overdoing it (I did it once, and it did wear me out so much that I had to skip the next workout. It was a deep muscular soreness, unlike what I’ve usually felt with weights only).
  • I like having off days, even if it’s just one more! I’m just too busy to do the four-days-a-week Bullworker program and my at-home maintenance physical therapy sessions before that, which take about 30 minutes. That turns into a two-hour session, four times a week, and I just don’t want to afford that kind of time.

    • NOTE: the standard Bullworker routine is a four-day-a-week run, so you’ll note with my program you are not missing out on anything with two Bullworker days and one in-gym day, doing a full body workout. This is another reason not to go heavy and hard on your in-gym day: you’re already hitting it full-on with Bullworker and are merely adding another workout session for the full range of movement in the gym that you don’t necessarily get from Bullworker, just because of equipment mechanics (e.g., doing some exercises, like legs, are problematic with Bullworker; see #15, below, “Quad/Hip Flexors,” the range of movement is far less that you need to get for full isotonic range, though, admittedly, I don’t know if that really matters, but I’d like to have that range).
  • Socialization! Going to the gym gets me out and about…especially among people of a similar fitness mentality. Now that I’m retired, I’m not out and about as much as I used to be, and it’s important to be out among people for many reasons. Too much of being inside your own head, your own thoughts, your own everything is never a good thing, I don’t care what anyone else might tell you. You forget others have opinions too and won’t always agree with you, and how to deal with “such people”….
  • Cross training! Check this link out for cross-training information.

Water: drink plenty throughout workouts and the day! If you’re thirsty you’re way past the point when you should have been drinking it! Clear urine indicates hydration.

Protein:

  • Take a good quality protein supplement after each workout. I use Body Fortress whey protein.
  • Ingest about one gram of protein to one pound of body weight, evenly spaced throughout the day. So, for a 195-pound person, eating six times a day, that’s 32.5 g per sitting. Try to get most of your protein through food, but it’s okay to supplement with protein powders.
  • If you’re targeting a lower goal weight, I’d approximately target that goal weight in the amount of protein to ingest, because you know you have excess weight to lose that is not muscle. Again, I’m not a fitness expert, but my reasoning is why waste extra protein on weight you’re going to jettison? I found a link that also says to target your goal weight, here.

Important Articles – Please Read Before Working Out!

Please read this article before doing any isometric training! It’s an incredibly dense article on all-things isometrics:

Here are some other interesting articles:

Workout Considerations

  1. Stretch before and after.
  2. BREATHE! Never hold your breath!
  3. Focus on the muscles being exercised: don’t be watching TV or talking to another. Focus is critical!
  4. Adjust each exercise to your body mechanics. Something that works for me may not work for you. Some Bullworker exercises don’t work the best for me (e.g., the two-footed quad push; I don’t feel the muscle employment as much as I do using just one leg).
  5. Vary Bullworker movement travel distances, especially if doing multiple sets. E.g., alternate inserting weaker springs to compress the Bullworker a longer distance than if you use a harder spring, which compresses less distance. Doing so employs different lengths of muscle contraction to be worked.
  6. Employ different exercises, especially if doing multiple sets, but also over days and weeks, to “shock” and employ a more complete muscle development.
  7. Shaking while using the Bullworker is okay, as long as you are not hurting. Be very careful when starting out! Err on the conservative side and see how your body reacts. Chrisman Hughes and this site say shaking means the neuro system is building more neurological connections.
  8. Try to keep going as continuous as possible without stopping to gain the best cardio/circuit training benefits; it’s okay to take time to swap out springs, just keep that time to a minimum. Keep moving!
  9. If you don’t want to return to a gym, but still want the gym-like isotonic reps in a different way, you could purchase a Bodylastics set. They’re are a little funky at times, using them, but they are the traditional isotonic movements.
    1. But let me just say that performing the Bullworker reps as-is is also perfectly fine! I’m just more of a purist, already have the membership, and have gone to gyms my whole life. I also like the CROSS-TRAINING effect of using the gym with Bullworker.
  10. Diet is critical! Find out what works for you. There are plenty of online resources, but ensure that they incorporate physical fitness. Not all diets properly consider the additional output of workout efforts when figuring one’s caloric intake (e.g.,last I’d checked Weight Watchers didn’t account for working out). Not all diets incorporate extra protein for those who workout.

Workout Mechanics

  1. I’m only doing the 60-80% of max output for Bullworker compression-and-cable spread 7-second isometric holds. For the Bullworker regime, I’m also doing the 5-12 isotonic reps afterward.
    1. Technically, one only needs to do the 7-second holds to gain isometric benefits. The Bullworker isotonic reps were added more recently for a more complete fitness routine.
    2. At the gym, my [isotonic] reps are not performed to exhaustion. Probably at a 60% of max effort. I’ll do whatever amount of reps I feel up to, but it’s usually 8-12, since I’m going light-to-medium.
    3. In using the gym, I’ll perform cardio. But you should try to get some form of cardio in on your Bullworker days, such as brisk walks, hikes, arm rowing machines–anything that keeps your motor running continually for anywhere from 15 – 30 minutes minimum. No rests while doing it.
  2. On my off days, I plan on doing brisk walk/hikes for about an hour. I no longer run or jump rope because of my hip replacement. But I can still hoof it! Just try to get some form of brisk,less intense, form of movement going; you can save the intense cardio for workout days–it’s important to vary all routines, including cardio routines.
  3. In my “Bullworker Workout” section I’m only presenting some of the actual exercises I’ll be doing. You can pick and chose what you actually use from the Bullworker exercise manual and website. I just picked a representative set, and when I do 2 or more sets, I mix them up with other exercises now and then, from one circuit exercise to the other (e.g., an exercise done in set 1 may be different than in set 2).
    1. On any additional sets, you can choose to do the entire routine again or just do the isometric holds and not the reps. I do this a lot.
    2. Doing the first Bullworker set with the isotonic reps, then doing the second set with only the isometrics, takes just under an hour to perform.
  4. I’m mainly sticking to a single exercise, except where those muscles are more intricate, such as back and shoulders. It just depends on the time I have.

Bullworker Videos

These will show you the actual exercises: https://www.bullworker.com/videos/

Bullworker Manuals

To view other exercise examples in the manuals, use this link. The only exercise not in any of the manuals is the forearm extensor and flexor exercises, which I captured.

Bullworker FAQs

FAQs: https://www.bullworker.com/faq/

Image-Use Permission

You are free to use the forearm images that I captured as long as proper attribution is given.

For the Bullworker images, you need to contact Bullworker for permission.

Proper Attribution

Feel free to use my program as your own and feel free to printout or screenshot or whatever else. You have my permission to use it, however:

!!! Please render proper attribution to Bullworker (contact Bullworker for permission) and myself if using this in any public manner, as in a Twitter, Facebook, TikTok, blog posts, or any other public media !!!

***I’m going to further state that anytime anyone uses an image from someone else, proper attribution NEEDS to be performed. ***

I see many, many online posts and articles that just grab images from wherever and use them without ever doing this. It’s not just expected courtesy, it’s a legal thing, people. You’ll understand once you’re fined, no questions asked until AFTER you pay up. Please, don’t be lazy about this, it’s unethical.

The Workout

My regime has me doing a full-body workout three times a week:

  • Day 1: Bullworker
  • Day 2: rest
  • Day 3: Gym
  • Day 4: rest
  • Day 5: Bullworker
  • Day 6: rest
  • Day 7: rest

 

Bullworker Workout

Except where noted, all images are copyrighted by Bullworker, 2018.

Some exercises use the smaller Steel Bow, but either bow can be used.

1) Stretch and warm up entire body. There are many warmup routines. Pick what’s best for you. Check out the Bullworker Iso-Bow or Iso-Flow is you want to try something different.

Until I’m warmed up, I do three easy reps of each Bullworker exercise before doing the 8-10-second hold.

2) Upper Chest:

Hold the Bullworker anywhere above the chest to where you feel the upper chest employed.

Upper Chest Compression and Overhead Shoulder Compression (© 2018 Bullworker. Used with Permission from Bullworker)

Upper Chest Compression and Overhead Shoulder Compression (© 2018 Bullworker. Used with Permission from Bullworker)

3) Lower Chest:

Hold the Bullworker anywhere below the chest to where you feel the lower chest employed.

Lower Chest Compression (© 2018 Bullworker. Used with Permission from Bullworker)

Lower Chest Compression (© 2018 Bullworker. Used with Permission from Bullworker)

4) Main Chest Compressions:

Chest Compression (© 2018 Bullworker. Used with Permission from Bullworker)

Chest Compression (© 2018 Bullworker. Used with Permission from Bullworker)

5) Upper Back/Trapezius/Rhomboids/Posterior Deltoids:

Hold the Bullworker behind your neck and employ the upper back, rear delts, traps and rhomboids while compressing back and slightly up.

Rear Shoulder and Upper Back Compression (© 2018 Bullworker. Used with Permission from Bullworker)

Rear Shoulder and Upper Back Compression (© 2018 Bullworker. Used with Permission from Bullworker)

6) Lats/Rear Delts/Erector Spinae:

Hold the Bullworker behind your lower back and employ the lats, rear delts, and spinae  while compressing back and slightly down.

Lats and Center Back Compression (© 2018 Bullworker. Used with Permission from Bullworker)

Lats and Center Back Compression (© 2018 Bullworker. Used with Permission from Bullworker)

7) Seated Deadlift:

While seated as shown, gently angle back while keep PERFECT FORM and employing the lower back. As for all exercises, there are alternate forms of this exercise. Perform with care!

Seated Dead Lift (© 2018 Bullworker. Used with Permission from Bullworker)

Seated Dead Lift (© 2018 Bullworker. Used with Permission from Bullworker)

8) Deltoids:

Feel deltoid only employment in both compression and cable spreads.

Deltoid Compression (© 2018 Bullworker. Used with Permission from Bullworker)

Deltoid Compression (© 2018 Bullworker. Used with Permission from Bullworker)

Deltoid Cable Spread (© 2018 Bullworker. Used with Permission from Bullworker)

Deltoid Cable Spread (© 2018 Bullworker. Used with Permission from Bullworker)

9) Triceps:

Focus on TRICEPS employment. This form can also be used for abs, and you will feel your triceps when doing it, but focus on the muscles you are targeting at the moment. So,here, focus on the triceps.

Tricep Compression (© 2018 Bullworker. Used with Permission from Bullworker)

Tricep Compression (© 2018 Bullworker. Used with Permission from Bullworker)

Tricep Cable Pushdowns (© 2018 Bullworker. Used with Permission from Bullworker)

Tricep Cable Pushdowns (© 2018 Bullworker. Used with Permission from Bullworker)

10) Biceps:

This top exercise can be used for both biceps and triceps. Here, focus on the biceps. For the second biceps image, you may have subtly shift your grip to best angle the biceps muscle.

Bicep Cable Curls (© 2018 Bullworker. Used with Permission from Bullworker)

Bicep Cable Curls (© 2018 Bullworker. Used with Permission from Bullworker)

Bicep Compressions (© 2018 Bullworker. Used with Permission from Bullworker)

Bicep Compressions (© 2018 Bullworker. Used with Permission from Bullworker)

11) Forearm Extensor Cables:

NOTE: the way your forearms get a burn (and I mean burn!) using the Bullworker, you’d think you wouldn’t need to specifically train them, but…I’ve noticed in going back to the gym and doing wrist curls, that they are not as strong as they were, though I can still use the same weight and reps. So, yes, I strongly advise incorporating Bullworker wrist work.

Focusing on top arm only: Keep length of forearm still. Only flex/lift at WRIST (as if revving a motorcycle throttle, but do the speed of movement as per isometrics/tonics).

Forearm Extensor Cables (© 2021 F. P. Dorchak)

Forearm Extensor Cables (© 2021 F. P. Dorchak)

12) Forearms Flexor Cables:

NOTE: the way your forearms get a burn (and I mean burn!) using the Bullworker, you’d think you wouldn’t need to specifically train them, but…I’ve noticed in going back to the gym and doing wrist curls, that they are not as strong as they were, though I can still use the same weight and reps. So, yes, I strongly advise incorporating Bullworker wrist work.

Focusing on top arm only: Keep length of forearm still. Only flex/lift at WRIST (flex the forearm).

Forearm Flexor Cables (© 2021 F. P. Dorchak)

Forearm Flexor Cables (© 2021 F. P. Dorchak)

13) Abs, Side:

Do both sides of the abs! Focus on the abs, not the arms, though your tired arms will feel it!

Side Abs Compression (© 2018 Bullworker. Used with Permission from Bullworker)

Side Abs Compression (© 2018 Bullworker. Used with Permission from Bullworker)

14) Abs Front:

As explained in the triceps version of this above, focus on the abs, not the triceps here, though your tired arms will feel it!

Front Abs Compression (© 2018 Bullworker. Used with Permission from Bullworker)

Front Abs Compression (© 2018 Bullworker. Used with Permission from Bullworker)

Abs Plank Crunch (© 2018 Bullworker. Used with Permission from Bullworker)

Abs Plank Crunch (© 2018 Bullworker. Used with Permission from Bullworker)

15) Quads/Hip Flexors:

Focus on the QUADS instead of the hip flexors!

If you want to work the hip flexors, then focus on the movement from the HIP FLEXORS.

Quad Cable Spreads (© 2018 Bullworker. Used with Permission from Bullworker)

Quad Cable Spreads (© 2018 Bullworker. Used with Permission from Bullworker)

16) Hams:

Focus on using the HAMSTRINGS! You may have to subtly shift your hammies!

Quad One-Legged Press (© 2018 Bullworker. Used with Permission from Bullworker)

Quad One-Legged Press (© 2018 Bullworker. Used with Permission from Bullworker)

17) Abductors:

There is an alternative to this done sitting in a chair, but this version is easier and more comfortable to do.

Hip Abduction (© 2018 Bullworker. Used with Permission from Bullworker)

Hip Abduction (© 2018 Bullworker. Used with Permission from Bullworker)

18) Adductors:

I recommend having your hands placed as they are in the image below. And BE MINDFUL OF YOUR KNEES, ESPECIALLY IF YOU HAVE BAD KNEES!

Hip Adduction (© 2018 Bullworker. Used with Permission from Bullworker)

Hip Adduction (© 2018 Bullworker. Used with Permission from Bullworker)

19) Calves

Calf Extension (© 2018 Bullworker. Used with Permission from Bullworker)

Calf Extension (© 2018 Bullworker. Used with Permission from Bullworker)

20) Stretch and cool down entire body.

In Conclusion

There you have it!

Again, please note I am not a fitness professional so always consult your fitness or medical professionals prior to attempting any new fitness regime. It does not take very long to see results from using the Bullworker. It’s amazingly quick and easy to use and will blow your mind! It’s quite sad that the fitness community ignored and dismissed isometrics all these years. And don’t take all I’ve told you at face value–research it yourself. And please post your successes in the comments, once you’ve tried the Bullworker!

If I did it over, I’d purchase the Power Pack, instead of buying my equipment one at a time. But if you can’t afford that (including using my discount code of dorchak10), then use this Find Your Bullworker link to find what best suits you.

And one more thing…either later this month or next month I’ll be posting an interview with Chrisman Hughes, President of Bullworker. He’s been so danged, incredibly helpful in many ways…from answering my many questions to allowing me use of their Bullworker images. I can’t thank him enough–thank you, Chrisman!

If any medical or fitness professionals notice that I’m off on something, please feel free to let me know, and I’ll correct it.

I wish you all the very best in discovering this incredible piece of fitness equipment and experiencing your own journey to better health and fitness!

Fitness Posts

Bullworker Affiliate

The Bullworker Iso-Bow

New Bullworker Workout Update – 4 Weeks

Strong Like Bull — The Bullworker

Gym Closed? Used Bodylastics!

Total Hip Replacement (THR) Surgery Post Links

Knee and THR Surgeries—An Update

Total Hip Replacement – Four Months

Total hip replacement surgery, October 23, 2019

What A Spazz, November 24, 2019

Total Hip Replacement Update 8 1/2 Weeks, December 21, 2019

Shoulder Surgery Posts Links

Shoulder Surgery, August 29, 2018

Post Shoulder Surgery, 2018

Knee Surgery Post Links

Knee Surgery – Meniscus Flap Tear

Posted in Health, To Be Human | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

A 2021 Coors Field Birthday Celebration!

One of my relatives had a birthday this month and we celebrated it by going to a Colorado Rockies baseball game at Coors Field, in Denver! We’re all fans of the Rockies and love making this annual gathering.

View From The North End of Coors Field. (© F. P. Dorchak, July 3, 2021)
Coors Field Water Fountains and “Rock Pile.” (© F. P. Dorchak, July 3, 2021)
The Big Board. (© F. P. Dorchak, July 3, 2021)

It was a great day for a game, but, man, was it muggy! You don’t usually hear that associated with Colorado, but who cared! There’s nothing like seeing a game in person, and we were above and behind Home Plate and had a fantastic view!

Cardinals v. Rockies. (© F. P. Dorchak, July 3, 2021)

We’d arrived in time to see some batting practice, and from a distance had spotted one of our best ex-players who now plays for the opposing team: Nolan Arenado. What a loss he is for the Rockies, but no team is about a single player, however great that player, but all the fans came to their feet on his first appearance at the plate (as they have with each game’s start the past few days), and Nolan, ever the professional, humble, sport’s man that he is, gave us all a respectful nod and a tip of his helmet. He has and will go far. It was great to see him play again. Just in the wrong uniform….

The lot of us had a great time, as always, then we’d gone down to the field to see the fireworks following the game. Depending on where you’re seated, you’re allowed down onto the field, in the out field, otherwise you can watch the fireworks from your seats. As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve never seen a better fireworks display anywhere, and that remained true last night! Especially during the finale! Man, you can feel the reverberations in your bones, and the view above is exhilarating! You find yourself holding your breath as the night sky is packed with color and motion and smoke and magic!

Wonderment!

You wonder how much more you can take as your senses are overpowered by the scope and grandeur of the display! After some demonstrations I’ve had paper debris rain down upon us, but I didn’t feel any last night.

Wow. (© F. P. Dorchak, July 3, 2021)
WOW! (© F. P. Dorchak, July 3, 2021)
HOLY COW!!! (© F. P. Dorchak, July 3, 2021)

The Rockies know how to put on a fireworks demonstration!

Happy Fourth of July!

Other Rockies/Coors Field Posts

Posted in Fun, Leisure, Memories, To Be Human | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Violin That Dad Built

A Stewart-MacDonald Fiddle Kit Violin, Handcrafted by Frank P. Dorchak, Jr., 2021 (© F. P. Dorchak, June 2021)

June 5 of this year (2021, for you folks in the future…) I flew back to help out my dad and stepmom with some heavy lifting. I brought my violin with me (and did, indeed, practice nearly every day). The day after my arrival, my dad asked me to play my recital song. So, I did. Then he asks my stepmom to go get a “recording device” out from his workshop. What she returned with was not a digital recorder.

It was a violin Dad had built in his workshop!

Yours Truly When Handed A Violin My Dad, Frank P. Dorchak, Jr., Made! (© Wanda Dorchak, June 2021)

He’d built this violin from a StewMac.com “Fiddle Kit.”

The StewMac Violin Taking Shape. (© F. P. Dorchak, June 2021)

Stewart MacDonald is a supplier of parts and tools to the music industry. It also sells some instrument kits, and the violin is among them. I asked the company if it was a replica of a Stradivarius violin, and they said it was not intended to be, however Juan Mijares, of Juan Mijares Violins, says it does look like a classic Strad replica.

My nearly 85-year-old dad, who is (in my opinion) a master craftsman with wood, has been working on this for months, it turns out, and he chuckled about how I was supposed to get it first for my birthday…then Christmas…then…well, you get the idea. He said that you’d think using a kit would be easy, but it was far from that. He said you really had to have a strong woodworking background to be able to build this thing. He had trouble with a few areas, like working parts of the bridge and inserting the sound post. He also said inserting the purfling was a bear…or, you know, words to that effect….

Of what you got in the kit, the following had already been prepped:

  • The spruce top and maple back had already been carved, sanded, and glued to the linings, blocks, and “curly maple ribs” (I believe they’re referring to the violin’s “Center, or ‘C’ bouts” on each side).
  • The channels had already been routed for installation of the purfling.
  • The machine-shaped neck was ready for sanding and fitting onto the instrument.

You also received the following, which had to be added to the above:

  • Ebony fingerboard
  • Nut
  • Saddle
  • Boxwood tailpiece with adjustable fastener
  • E-string adjuster (fine tuner)
  • Boxwood chin rest
  • End pin
  • Tuning pegs
  • Maple bridge
  • Purflings
  • Spruce bass bar
  • Sound post
  • Instructions

As to the 20-page instruction manual, well, my dad and others say wasn’t as detailed as it should be. While the description of what to do is listed in order, it appeared from what my dad had said that you had to have quite an experienced background in woodworking to properly perform these instructions, and as I perused the manual’s pages, I wondered if with my extremely limited woodworking abilities would I be able to do this. I’d had to at least purchased a lot of equipment I don’t already own, all of which is listed within the manual, but doing something and doing that something well are three different things, and to see what my dad had done in creating this violin was amazing…and moving. He always surprises me–to this day–in what he can do when it comes to fine or intricate woodworking. As in so many other areas, he never sits still and constantly pushes his own limits…and learns and experiences new things….

The StewMac Fiddle Kit Instructions. (My Image of it © F. P. Dorchak, June 2021)

But, as I mentioned, he had issues with a few things, and I offered my help. Since Dad couldn’t quite position the sound post, I gave it a go, and, interestingly, was able to to it. Multiple times, even. There are three tools specifically designed to get the job done, I guess they’re all called “sound-post setters,” and I felt like a surgeon as I worked that dowel into place with all three instruments through the f-hole. Interestingly, the sound post is not fastened to the violin, but is, instead, kept in place by the pressure of the instrument’s structure. It’s a snug fit so that when the end piece and strings are installed and tuned (here meaning tightened), the violin is therefore held together from end pin to scroll. It is this strings-bridge-end pin tension that keeps the sound post in this wonderful instrument in place, and one of the reasons that violinists (and other similar musicians and their instruments, e.g., violas, cellos, I assume) handle and treat their instruments with such reverence and heightened care!

Yours Truly Working to Get the Sound Post Inside The StewMac Violin. I know…You Don’t See Me…But I’m There…. (© F. P. Dorchak, June 2021)

If you look closely at the image below, you’ll see where I successfully positioned the sound post using the above tools. Now, I’m not saying it was perfectly positioned by any means…just that I got the danged thing in there. Juan Mijares later told me it was, indeed, off. But I expected that. In the image below I inserted a light at the end-pin hole and that vertical object with a shadow just to the left of that blue tape is the sound post.

See The Sound Post? I Put It There. (© F. P. Dorchak, June 2021)

Once I’d gotten the sound post in, I drilled 1/16th-inch holes into each of the pegs and inserting them into the peg holes beneath the scroll head, in the peg box. I then cannibalized (took) the bridge from the sample violin Dad bought to use as an example to work against a completed version, because the bridge that came with the kit had been damaged by another guy. Now with the bridge, the drilled pegs, and the sound post in place, I “strung” the violin, which I’d never done before. Juan and my violin instructor, Autumn Deppa, had both told me that when it came to replacing strings, not to take them all off at once, but one at a time (because, otherwise, as already mentioned, the entire violin comes apart). I placed all of the strings on at once and tightened them enough to keep everything tense and the bridge in place. Then I began to tune each string. Violin strings, I’d read, need to stretch to their optimum length, even steel ones, and this takes a few days…weeks? So, I gradually tightened them over the course of my stay in upstate New York.

Sample Violin. (© F. P. Dorchak, June 2021)

But, of course, both Dad and my stepmom, Wanda, wanted to hear what it sounded like–as did mi…so-fa-so-la-ti-do! So, a day or so later, I played the very first notes ever to be played on the violin in Dad’s workshop, using Bach’s Minuet 3 in G Major (Note: since I’m a new student to the violin and have only been playing for just over a year, I’m still using tapes applied to the first-position violin note placement on the neck):

The First Sound Coming From Dad’s Violin. (© F. P. Dorchak, June 2021)

As I mentioned above, I’m still using tapes (see image below) to mark the first-position note stops (where you press the strings to make the notes sound). So, when playing the untaped violin, it was a bit tricky, but I did manage to coax out a sound that actually sounded familiar!

Note Tapes. (© F. P. Dorchak, June 2021)

Upon returning to Colorado, I contacted the luthier from whom I’d bought my first violin, Juan Mijares, of Juan Mijares Violins. I had to do this because while in New York, the strings would not stay tuned, because the pegs kept unraveling when increasingly tightened. The violin became unplayable. I needed to make it playable again.

Juan was impressed with Dad’s work. He said he’d heard of these violin kits but had never seen an end result of one of them. We talked about my concerns with the instrument and he said he could correct those things, and one or two other issues he immediately pointed out upon examining it (nothing critical, Dad, just a few polishing actions on his part that you wouldn’t haven known about, because you’re not a luthier).

Dad had stained the instrument. Most violins are varnished–but not all are, Juan told me. I love the finish–I haven’t seen many that look like this one, but, again, I’m no violin expert. I love how it stands out! I dropped off the violin and picked it up a little over a week later. When I picked it up, Juan told me that his daughter, who plays, was helping him and saw it and she even liked it (including the finish!).

For the record, I had the following worked performed:

  • Tightened the end pin
  • Trimmed the cork under the chin rest
  • Created a new bridge
  • Planed the neck
  • Corrected the pegs
  • Corrected the sound post
  • Created and placed the interior label
  • I also bought a more robust, Everest, shoulder rest

Turns out Juan thought he would have broken the bridge I’d used, so he just created a whole new one. Remember, I’d used a bridge from an extremely low-end sample violin.

Planing the neck was needed, because Dad just hadn’t gotten to it, since I’d interrupted his process by taking the violin with me. The fingerboard was slightly overshooting the maple neck under-support. Dad would have caught this.

The pegs: again, because I’d interrupted Dad’s completion of the violin. Turns out that Dad had not gotten to fitting the pegs, which I’d thought he had done, otherwise I wouldn’t have drilled the pegs. This was the main reason I’d brought the violin in to Juan, because as it stood, the violin had been unplayable until those pegs were fitted. Now they are–and it plays!

Though I had installed the sound post, I apparently hadn’t properly installed it. I rough-measured it and had been off. I later learned that depending on where the post is positioned changes the sound. I hadn’t known that the post could be intentionally positioned in various locations to purposely modify the instrument’s music to make it brighter, darker, etc. Check out this link for all that.

And finally, we installed an official label, inside the left f-hole of the violin, to commemorate and document Dad’s work!

Dad’s Violin Label. (© F. P. Dorchak, June 2021)

I’ve purchased two new violin cases since my original “rental case,” so I put Dad’s violin in my original rental case. It has a rich interior red velvet, and the instrument looks right a home in there!

Dad’s Violin In Its New Home. (© F. P. Dorchak, June 2021)

Once it was back I began to try to tune it. Since Autumn has not yet shown me how to peg tune, I looked online and found instructions. I began–very gently–attempting to twist in (like a corkscrew) the pegs. They didn’t turn all that easily, but I went as gently as I could…carefully adjusting the pegs the smallest amount I could with each turn, while watching the tuner. I did this for a few moments, when–

POP!

My E-string snapped.

Dang it!

Well, there it was, my first snapped string.

Turns out I had not been paying close enough attention, because I had been tuning the A-string! Yes, while “tuning the A-string,” I had turned/been turning the E-string’s peg.

I’m sure that’s never happened before.

Since I did that once…I figured I might do it again (breaking a string), given how tough the pegs are to turn, and thought, gee, when I buy a new E-string, perhaps I’d be better served by also installing fine tuners on the other remaining strings.

So that Monday I went to Meeker Music and bought two E-strings, and as the guy was fetching them (after I’d explained my situation), he said, you know, we could install those fine tuners for ya. It’d only take a few minutes. I agreed to it.

Dad’s Violin – The Final Version – Note All the Fine Tuners (© F. P. Dorchak, June 2021)

Once installed, I returned home and attempted to again tune, then thought better of it. I had a lesson in two days and figured I’d let Autumn work the pegs, since she’d have to do a combination of peg and fine-tuner manipulation and knows how far to “push things”…or not. As I tried it, it was taking me forever doing it and I really didn’t want to bust another string again, and it was taking me quite a while to get things tuned. Sure, it’s how you learn, but Autumn hadn’t yet properly schooled me in the ways of peg tuning, so I figured I better let her do it. It only took her maybe three minutes.

With everything now in working order–and tuned–I thought I’d give it a go, even though there were no tapes on the neck. Now, as I play, please keep in mind I’m still a beginner and will be way off the actual notes…but I’m giving it a try anyway:

So, there you have it! A one-of-a-kind Dorchak del Gesu!

Posted in Art, Fun, Memories, Music, To Be Human | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

“New” Pentagon UAP Report – A Joke

ERO (© F. P. Dorchak, Don McCall, Lon Kirschner)
My Fictitious ERO Agency (© F. P. Dorchak)

But you knew that already, right?

You knew damned well there would be no “Oh, yeah, and BTW we know there are ETs or other advanced-and-hidden Earthly civilizations out there flying around that are besting our best tech and they’re allowing us to kill ourselves with our greed and power-hungry ways. Yup. You got us. And all because you asked for a report from us. Here it all is, neatly laid out, include money trails.

Even the Wired reporter of the article he wrote used the term “flights of fancy” about halfway down:

‘Either there’s a group so much more advanced that we never knew they were here,’ DeLonge says, ‘or they’re popping in and out of what we can perceive, and using machinery to do that.’

But before rushing off into such flights of fancy, it might be good to consider that another group of sky watchers….”

It appears that the writer of this article doesn’t even take the subject all that seriously. But, you see, that’s how this stuff works. It’s all a self-generating disinformation machine that Those Who Know don’t even have to fund. To staff. It has a life of it’s own. And even when people like me mention this it all fuels the same fire at no cost to Them Who Know. This is nothing new. I’m not the first or the only one to say this. Won’t be the last. Not going to continue tracking it.

And I’m not even saying this to dump on Those In Power. It’s just a standard operating procedure. Deny. Everything. Obfuscate. Everything.

“There’s no putting the genie back in the bottle” my ass. Nothing has changed or will because of this report. Everything will remain the same–and if something does change, I will be extremely surprised. I wish something useful would come about from it all.

We just simply don’t have a “need to know,” according to Those Who Run Things. It just literally doesn’t matter a hoot to whatever is really out there. Was a classified version of this report also submitted? Does it matter?

Of course not.

Because if you had to ask, you’re not in-the-know.

And if you’re not in-the-know, you’re (therefore) never going to be in-the-know.

Period.

Nice, flaccid try, for whatever the ulterior motives really were. It just continues to make a laughingstock of the whole topic, which may have been the intent all along. And though I just had to comment, this is one of the reasons I distance myself from all of this UFO/UAP/Conspiracy shit. You’ll go crazy from trying to figure anything out and/or you’ll grow depressed and despondent from learning any so-called “truths.”

How does any of this ultimately affect any of us?

We still have to pay bills, interact with each other, and try to live a good life. Immersing oneself into this culture has no good coming of it for the majority of us. Everyone is “built” for a purpose and I’ll leave this craziness to those people whose Life Mission it is to unearth and expose this kind of stuff without getting themselves killed or crazy. I have my beliefs about Life, the Universe, and the number 42, and don’t need to go back down all those dark, dirty ferret holes like I did for my novel, ERO.

I prefer the light.

In Lucem.

Posted in Books, Metaphysical, Paranormal, Science Fiction, Space, To Be Human, UFOs, Writing | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

The New WordPress Setup – Inserting Videos

I just discovered the past week that I can no longer use my VideoPress subscription in the new “block” format WP setup—even though they allowed me to buy that subscription. Somehow I’d been able to insert a video in my recital post, but I think there was a momentary burp in the system that allowed me to temporarily use the old, “Classic” admin system to do that, because it’s happened a few times where the old way displayed. Of course I’m gonna grab it and use it, I found it far better to use than this newer way, which I find extremely cumbersome and unwieldy, requiring far more keystrokes to get the same job done, the cursor isn’t always where I put it, but in some random location that of course throws me off when something I hadn’t planned on erasing is erased or overwritten, or ends up selecting that damned pop-up menu thingee, like it just did to me typing this out! Maybe it’s my POS computer that has a week-latency to every keystroke, but I won’t know until I get a newer system. But I doubt it. In this new system, the drop-down menu-thingee that creates headers and inserts images and formatting is extremely frustrating to use, and takes more effort to do than in the previous way to do these operations.

And not all operations seem to work as they should first time around. Many, many delays in typing out text. So much time is wasted waiting on the system or redoing my work.

#Aaaarrrggghhh!

And also in this new block system, you now have buy a premium plan to insert videos (at about $96/year) versus the older VideoPress, which was $60/year–and WP allowed me to still buy that outdated subscription this year!

I had to point this out to them that they should never have allowed me to purchase that older plan and that they should have notified us all about this.

So, now, I’m notifying you all.

In their defense WP did cancel my old VideoPress plan, applying that payment toward the Premium Plan. So, I now have to pay more for a service I wanted that includes far more than I really wanted.

Such is life.

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StokerCon 2021 – Virtual

This is a second attempt to write up my weekend experience with Stoker Con. In a nutshell, I was going into way too much detail on something I just didn’t like all that much, and it was exhausting. So, I decided to cut all that detail and just do a more broad-stroke review.

I did not much like Stoker Con.

I had major problems with Hopin, the main platform used in convention execution. My computer had major issues with using it, as did others. With one exception, I could not experience any livestreams. Caused my machine to choke. So, all I could do was watch anything recorded, which was fine, except for the lack of real-time interaction.

But the main problem I had with Stoker Con were the mindsets of most of those involved.

Stoker Con is a horror writers’ convention. I used to write horror. Now and then I may write a short, none-too-nasty piece/section that could be included under the “horror” banner (see my anthology, Do The Dead Dream?), but I don’t write prolonged violence any more. I never liked focusing on all the violence, anyway, but when you write horror, you kinda gotta go there now and then. Doesn’t mean I totally shy away from writing a brutal scene or two, as required by a story, but no longer long extended periods of focus upon violence. I now consider myself more of a “new weird” fiction author, but, to be honest, am not even sure that totally defines my work.

The long and the short of it is that except for a few individuals, like Joe R. Lansdale, most of those there seemed to have negative, dark, energy about them that really grated on me like destructive interference. Now Joe has written some nasty scenes, in fact one his books, Sunset and Sawdust, I had to stop reading because of certain things he wrote about, but his writing is incredible, and more importantly so, he is a really grounded, level-headed guy. I sense no bottled up anything inside him. He’s one of the lucky ones who’s not out to “kill his demons in fiction.” He just wants to write good stories. That’s his mission. I like that. Frankly, I’m a bit worn out on everyone in the world turning to writing to make statements of some kind. If that offends some of you, so be it, I make no apologies. I’m sixty years old and have seen plenty of shit and see plenty now…and there are ways of changing the past, and many ARE doing so, and I applaud them. It doesn’t mean every piece of writing has to constantly harp on past injustices. It doesn’t mean I have to constantly read about how wrong the world is through another’s POV. I know how “wrong” the world it. And I do my part in trying to correct the things I can within my extended airspace.

But to keep rehashing the same ills? Why not, instead, focus on how you all want the future TO BE, instead saying you need to show everyone how bad it is from your experience. Believe me, we all know it is. You can’t get away from it in all the media out there. Perhaps some or most of it is simply those-wronged venting and getting things off their chest, and that’s fair. They must do what they feel they must do, and I sincerely hope it all works out for them. I wish them peace.

So, please, why not write about a world as you want it to be?

If we keep focusing on problems, we lose site of their corrections. Sounds odd, I know, but whatever it is you concentrate upon, that is what you see. You get. Your focus is on. How can it not be? We already know the problems. We’ve identified them. So, now, shouldn’t we all focus on their solutions?

Many cited that using horror, extreme horror, was the way to do this. To raise social issues and get readers in their seats to get their attention. But, again, they just don’t seem to understand that what you keep feeding your mind entrains it. And I do not want to entrain my mind to all the veiled-fictional violence being fed into my mind. There’s enough real shit out there. Why the hell would I want to read about it? And the fact that they all claim to enjoy doing so, is severely disturbing.

And you wanna know some irony?

There were a couple of authors who actually did cringe at some other authors who took horror violence to extreme x 3 limits, some even saying (as they tried to chuckle it off) that they just couldn’t finish reading such-and-such books because they were so utterly nasty, and, no, I won’t name the books, because I don’t want to promulgate their readership. The moderator actually voiced that he didn’t know how a famous contemporary horror writer could be so unaffected by what he wrote!

Really? Can’t y’all see your own selves?

Look in your own mirrors, and instead of repeating “Candyman,” ask yourselves if this is what you really want to keep feeding your soul with….

Horror writing does not have to be graphically violent or disturbing. Just look to the old works.

And that is why I didn’t like Stoker Con and won’t go to anymore of them. I feel horror writers have hijacked a well-meaning author’s name and reputation and morphed it into something depraved, wicked, and violent, all in the name of displaced aggression and…entertainment.

And that sickens me.

Posted in Books, Fun, Paranormal, Spooky, To Be Human, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Violin Recital #1 – The Performance

Minuet No. 3 from Suzuki Book 1, J. S. Bach, Performed at First Christian Church, Colorado Springs, CO May 23, 2021 (© 2021, Laura and F. P. Dorchak)

Well, after eleven months of violin instruction, I performed my first in public performance. To the viewer’s right is my instructor, Miss Autumn Deppa, and unseen behind the piano to the left is Mr. Callum Ware, the accompanist. I have a better image of Callum below.

Though there were a little bit of “nerves,” it wasn’t worse than I’d expected from myself. Doing anything so new to your own personal repertoire–then performing it in front of a bunch of strangers!–would give most a little “Gee, what it I…,” and though I did misstep once or twice, it was nothing that unexpected and nothing that heinous, I’m glad to say!

All in all it was an incredibly fun experience, and one that I will definitely do again and again, should I be honored enough to stay a student of the violin!

For those of you who have followed my journey that started June 4, 2020–thank you! June 4 will mark my one-year point, and it’s incredibly gratifying to see how far I’ve come! My instructor is amazingly patient and she works with her students to see what works best for each individual in their instruction, and in fact won an “Inspiration” award last year for being one of the best instructors in town. I cannot, however, find an online description of the award, but see the plaque in our instructional setting.

Here is a better shot of our recital setting:

First Christian Church, Colorado Springs, CO May 23, 2021 (© 2021, Laura and F. P. Dorchak)

Here is Callum:

First Christian Church, Colorado Springs, CO May 23, 2021 (© 2021, Laura and F. P. Dorchak)

I had quite the enjoyable afternoon listening to all this violin music! All who performed were quite good, individual abilities a non-issue (I believe I was the lowest level of ability of all who performed)! It’s been so long since my wife, Mother-in-Law, and I had been to an instrumental concert (Laura and I had attended an outdoor, socially distanced Children’s Choral performance in December). I just loved listening to all those violins!

I had dedicated my performance to my paternal grandfather, who was the reason I started all this in the first place, Frank P. Dorchak, Sr. He played the violin some in his younger years. He passed away June 4, 1992 at the age of 79. His wife, Ann, died March 27, 1989 at the age of 77. I love and miss you both.

Frank, Sr. and Ann Dorchak, Lake Placid, NY, January 1982 (© 2021, F. P. Dorchak)

Previous Violin Posts

Public Violin Recital #1

Progress a la Violin

Why Is The Violin So Hard To Learn?

Musicians of Colorado Springs Philharmonic – Virtual Concert Ep.1: Tchaikovsky Serenade, Valse

Violin Lessons II – July 6, 2020

Violin Lessons – June 1, 2020

Posted in Fun, Music, To Be Human | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Public Violin Recital #1

You know, when I first started learning the violin, eleven months ago, I never thought I’d actually be up in front of people…performing. And now, next week, I will be.

I mean, sure, family–but others I didn’t know?

Part of writing is getting your stuff read. By others. Hopefully, many of whom you don’t know. So when I agreed to do this several months ago, I thought, part of playing music is for others to hear it. Experience it. To play before others is to immerse oneself into the total musical experience. And I want to experience the total violin experience. I feel an intense Zen-like draw toward this instrument, however late in life. To me it’s not just physical…it’s philosophical.

But I also thought…this will take me far outside my comfort zone.

This will be something I’ve never done before, never thought about doing before. Sure, I’ve been in front of many people before…on writer panels…speaking before a crowded banquet room of conference attendees…but this would be different, as my instructor informs me. It will not be like anything I’ve done before. I have to believe her. And I do.

Besides, I also thought…it’ll be fun!

I feel, like with anything new, a certain sense of “Gee, I wonder what this new experience will bring?” exists. To see just how I do end up in those four-or-so minutes of musical presentation. Do I have any kind of ability to present music? To play this utterly complicated instrument, called the violin? An instrument of illustrious and distinguished haute pedigree and refinement? Will I do the violin’s lineage the justice it rightly deserves?

Will I be able to bring those 11-months of practice I’ve had so far together and be able to do a and-a-one…and-a-two…and-a-three--PERFORM!?

Granted, I’m not anywhere ready to be an official “performer,” and my to-be-performed piece is not at full speed, but still…do I have what it takes to perform for others in some future life, or will this just be relegated to limited amusement at family gatherings?

If I end up messing up, sweating a little, well, gee, and so it goes…but, there’s no fate of the free world being held in the balance, no multi-million dollar programs, nor any multi-billion-dollar satellites, at stake, here. At least not now, anyway. I feel the violin is truly far more difficult to learn than flying satellites ever was…but I am absolutely loving this process, this new, expansive journey of mine…I’m loving learning something completely out of my wheelhouse and learning to be humble again…becoming a student again, especially at this point in my life…learning a whole new language, a whole new weltanschauung, as it were.

So, this Sunday afternoon, in a wonderfully cavernous church on Platte and Cascade avenues, it’ll just be little ol’ me (and some accompaniment), standing before y’all in an acoustically gnarly interior, trying to publicly play something made out of wood and steel and of rich, revered history for the first time, at sixty years of age.

And I am so looking forward to this…of being humbly counted among the few lucky enough to play–however inelegantly–that instrument called the violin.

Previous Violin Posts

Progress a la Violin

Why Is The Violin So Hard To Learn?

Musicians of Colorado Springs Philharmonic – Virtual Concert Ep.1: Tchaikovsky Serenade, Valse

Violin Lessons II – July 6, 2020

Violin Lessons – June 1, 2020

Posted in Music, To Be Human | Tagged , , , , , | 6 Comments

The Professional Edit

Okay, here’s the thing.

I hear more and more that [some] writers are telling each other that they need to hire professional editors before submitting to agents. That “we” should negate as many options to a “no” as possible.

Yes, I agree, writers do need to turn in the best possible versions of their manuscripts to agents and/or editors…but where do we draw the line?

I cannot be the only one who disagrees with this “new” maxim that writers need to get professional editors to edit their manuscripts before submission.

Why does the writer of their own work have to suddenly now fork over thousands (okay, at the very least hundreds) for a professional editor to go over their work before it gets to an agent’s desk? Isn’t that the point of getting traditionally published–to get an editor for your work…one that you don’t have to pay?

When will the madness stop? When will those who have deep pockets stop using their money as a NEED for the rest of us? Just before someone can afford to do this does not mean everyone NEEDS to do this. And if you can’t afford it, you shouldn’t put yourself into debt hiring one.

Why must we always supersize everything it is we do? You want a large drink–here’s a hand-held gallon of Mountain Dew! You wanna get your kid into the best university? Here’s a collegiate coach to do that!

You wanna publish your book? You have to now hire a professional editor to work over your book because, you know, we don’t have any of those, here, at Simon & Schuster.

When agents look to a manuscript they’re mainly looking at the story. To see if they can sell it. Granted, it they’re looking at a manuscript fraught with errors, you’re gonna hear about it. I’m sorry, but if you’re not good enough to mind your p’s and q’s then you just don’t get in. If there’s nothing else “redeemable” about your work, you don’t get in. Obviously it may not hurt your chances, but I can pretty much bet that no one ever got a book contract based on the phrase “…and it’s professionally edited….”

I’m all for making a professional’s job easier, but this is part and parcel of the whole author/editor deal: you write the manuscript. They tell you what to rework. That’s one of the editor’s jobs, I’m sorry. Or the agent’s job to kick it back to you, telling you that it’s not good enough for submission.

The writer’s job is to write the best damned manuscript they can. Then submit it to an agent, who does their best damned job to get us to make sure we don’t have any holes in our work and that it’s ready to be submitted.

Then they submit.

Then editors decide if they want it. If they do, then they have to convince the House Oligarchy to take it on. If they do so, then they work their magic, including getting said manuscript into their in-house standards and and the editorial staff going over it with a fine-tuned pen.

In my humblest of opinions, having–requiring or otherwise–writers hire professional editors is overkill…unless you’re self publishing. But even then, I don’t see it as a requirement, unless you’re really bad at developmental and/or line editing. Or spelling. Or anything else in the creation process.

But for traditional publishing, write the best damned manuscript you can. Pore over it many, many times. Read it out loud (the single best advice I can give any writer, besides learning how to write in general) and get another to read it. Put it aside for a spell. Read through it again. Make those polishing corrections.

Submit.

Then start your next work.

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