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So playing the trombone wasn't getting me in enough trouble?
I need some place to write down the often confused thoughts that enter my mind, while my stories give voice to the characters that wander through periodically, this is the place for my voice. Join me if you wish, comment if you wish, all are welcomed and appreciated.
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February 14, 2021 at 3:13pm
February 14, 2021 at 3:13pm
And the note would like me to let you know that it is alive and well, living in the key of C#.

First, a little Sound of Music to set the mood;

Now that that earworm has been firmly planted in your mind — the reason I started there is what musicians call SCALES or as Maria sang; "Do Re Mi Fa Sol La Ti Do"

Actually, this is one type of scale musicians use, this is called a Major Scale. There are others like the sadder Minor Scale, but for our brief journey into Music Theory, we can stick to the Happier Major Scale.

Here's an octave (8 notes) worth of a piano keyboard;

Chromatic Keys

As you can see each key has its name printed on it from the note C to the repeat of C eight notes higher.

The keys are white and black, for now, ignore the black keys, we'll get to them later.

If you played only the white keys, starting on the first C all the way up to the last C you would play a Major Scale in the Key of C.

Another way to think of it;

C = Do, D = Re, E = Mi, F = Fa, G = Sol, A = La, B = Ti, "Which will bring us back to ... " C = Do"

So there's your Major Scale, which is always named after the note it starts on!

Now take a look at the Black keys — they all have two names.

For example, the Black key between White Keys C and D is named either C Sharp or D Flat.

Back to the keyboard;

Chromatic Keys

The music interval between every key on the keyboard is a musical Half step – again in other words C to C sharp is a Half step, C sharp to D is another Half step – C to D is a Whole Step.

The Whole Step/Half Step relationship is important, it's how we build Scales in other Keys Besides the Key of C.

A Major Scale Will Alway Follow This Pattern;

Whole Step - C to D, Whole Step - D to E, Half Step - E to F, Whole Step - F to G, Whole Step -G to A , Whole Step -A to B, Half Step - B to C

The half steps in the C Major occur naturally from E to F and B to C, for other scales we have to "force the issue" by using the Black Keys.

An example for the Key of F Major; (If you are a "Bread" fan, this is the Key that their love song "If" is in)

Whole Step - F to G, Whole Step - G to A, Half Step - A to B Flat*, Whole Step - B flat to C, Whole Step - C to D, Whole Step - D to E, Half Step - E to F

*You can't have A to A sharp in an F Major Scale, The Rule Is TO NEVER Repeat A Note Name!

Now take a look at this Keyboard; (A bit tricky it doesn't end on the higher C like before)

Piano Keyboard # 2

You will notice that now even some of the White Keys have two names (a notes multiple names is called "Enharmonics" in the language musicians speak)

We are going to build a C Sharp Scale; To expedite this # = sharp and b = Flat

Whole Step - C# to D#, Whole Step - D# to E#, Half Step E# To F#, Whole Step - F# to G#, Whole Step G# to A#, Whole Step - A# to B#*, Half Step - B# to C#*

*Remember that rule about not being able to repeat note names!

And Yes I have seen and played music in the Key of C# — because of vocal range requirements both in operatic and broadway show tune settings. And Yes it's nasty, often because both employ something called chromatic harmony that makes it even trickier by introducing DOUBLE SHARPS — a horror tale for another day.

January 2, 2021 at 4:52pm
January 2, 2021 at 4:52pm
Authors Note

PROMPT1/2/2021 – January 2nd, 2020 is finally in the rear view mirror... what’s ahead for you in 2021?

Having already discussed what amounts to being the Biggest Upcoming Event in 2021, my pending retirement, and all the eager trepidation surrounding it. I really don't want to belabor it further.

There is a unique thing connected to my work as a music teacher, that I will touch on.

While one year ended, 2020 to be precise, that in reality marked the mid-point in my own timekeeping ritual. School round these parts ends in June. That brings finals, graduations, fair-wells, and new beginnings.

My "year" has for the last twenty or so years been wrapped around the July to June axis of the school year. So in many ways, my year hasn't changed yet.

Pointing back up to that opening paragraph, get back to me next September, when the "new reality" sets in!
January 1, 2021 at 1:21pm
January 1, 2021 at 1:21pm
Authors Note

PROMPTJanuary 1st. 2021 – What’s something GOOD that happened in 2020?

         For many 2020 was a complete bust, a year to forget or at least try to forget. Sorrow and loss touched many and won't quickly be forgotten.

         With that said, I must count myself amongst the lucky ones. those whose lives, while inconvenienced, weren't in some part injured by the horrific toll 2020 took on others. A backdoor "good thing", and one I wish I could share!

         Some Good Stuff?

         This year made me cook more at home. Don't get me wrong, I love to cook, it relaxes me, settling my day with its routine and normalcy. But, TIME, there wasn't always time, this year there was plenty of time. Why was cooking at home a good thing? Being older, and having not been a good boy in my youth I developed Type 2 diabetes, which with the help of my doctor I have wrestled into control. But with help from others (thanks for the book recommendation 🌸 pwheeler love, joy, peace ) AND especially getting away from the convenience of "take-out" I now have it under even more control. Further, over the course of two doctor visits, I managed to shed 6 pounds, a very good thing!

         In November of 2019, I discovered Writing.Com, it wasn't really until 2020 that I was able to really dig into and discover the nuances of the site. Still exploring, still learning, and hopefully, not making too much of a pest of myself!

         I've also noticed that many people have become more aware of each other. Nods, hellos, and just a bit more kindness. That's a good thing I hope LASTS!

         All in all, it wasn't the worst possible year for me, I feel other peoples hurt and sorrow, and hope for an easing in the coming years.

Is Normalcy A Real Word

Signiture Item...I'm only the trombone player!

December 3, 2020 at 11:23pm
December 3, 2020 at 11:23pm
Ahhh, "Carol of the Bells", without a doubt it is one of my very favorite Christmas Carols!

So simple and free of complexity, yet open to a multitude of renditions, that each presents it in a very unique way.

The song itself is built on a simple four note motif;

Carol of the Bells

The first line in the image shows the original motive and the four note countermelody.

If you sing the lyric in your head, think —This part is usually without the counter melody.

Hark how the bells, Sweet silver bells, All seem to say, Throw cares away.

Then, in the next stanza, the countermelody is often added

Christmas is here, Bringing good cheer, To young and old, Meek and the bold.
Ding ------------ Dong -------------- Ding ------------ Dong -------------

On the second line, the same four note motif is transposed up a third. (think Do - Mi)

The same countermelody continues and the arranger has a choice to either fill in the chords or use the original notes of the four note motif. Both have been done many times over.

Carol of the Bells 2

In the first line of this image, a new motif is used in the first three measures, but the original motif returns in the fourth measure.

The second line is completely new and serves to "turn around" and get us back to the top of the song;

The lyric there is the "Mer ry Mer ry Mer ry Christ mas" refrain.

This would have worked better if I had you all around my piano and could have played the examples as I explained it!!

Now! A bit of musical history.

"Carol of the Bells" is not the original title of this tune. In fact, the tune was not originally written as a Christmas Carol!!

The tune was originally composed in 1916 by Ukrainian composer Mykola Leontovich and titled “Shchedryk”, known as "The Little Swallow" in English. It was usually sung for Orthodox New Year as a "well wishing" song.

The Lyrics;

Shchedryk, shchedryk, a shchedrivka [New Year's carol];
A little swallow flew [into the household]
and started to twitter,
to summon the master:
"Come out, come out, O master [of the household],
look at the sheep pen,
there the ewes have yeaned
and the lambkins have been born
Your goods [livestock] are great,
you will have a lot of money, [by selling them].

If not money, then chaff: [from all the grain you will harvest]
you have a dark-eyebrowed [beautiful] wife."
Shchedryk, shchedryk, a shchedrivka,
A little swallow flew.

An American choir director, Peter Wilhousky heard the Ukrainian National Chorus perform “Shchedryk” and in 1936 copyrighted new lyrics for the tune and published his version. (Yes Virginia, that is copyright infringement.)

"Carol of the Bells" became an extremely popular Carol and was featured in many concerts starting in the late 1930s. It has been recorded by Symphonic Orchestra's, Choirs, and Jazz Musicians. It's been set to every possible genre of music.

This is my favorite version — right now!

November 15, 2020 at 10:55pm
November 15, 2020 at 10:55pm
So How Did You Spend Your Sunday?

I had planned to polish up a bit of a poem I'm working on for a certain E – Less Contest.

Like most of my plans that got shot right to — well, let's just go with the "best-laid plans".

It all started with a mid-morning phone call from the Minister at the local United Methodist Church. It seems he had a rather nice little Advent Prayer, specifically A Celtic Advent Prayer that he wanted to be set to music. Not an unusual request and not quite as last minute as these things usually are. Having the luxury of a bit of a modicum of breathing space, I decided a bit of research might help me "get a feel" for what I was attempting.


Research ended up being another one of those meandering journeys around the net, which I enjoy, but it did suck up most of my writing time.

Bottom Line? I never got to get "e-less" in New York. I do have two different settings of the poem working, actually on paper.

And What Do You Get Out Of This You Might Ask?

Well, you get a trinket for being a good sport and reading all this!

If you would like to read a bit more about Celtic Advent, the most succinct explanation was provided by The Prayer Foundation ™  

For your reading convenience, I have placed the pertinent sections here; "Celtic Advent

Signiture Item...I'm only the trombone player!

November 8, 2020 at 12:22pm
November 8, 2020 at 12:22pm
The school at which I teach has for the last ten years done a traveling Veterans Day Ceremony. It is held on the last school open day before Veterans Day since we are closed on the day of. It looked for a while that this wasn't going to happen in 2020, in fact, I really had serious doubts about the event.

A bit of background;

The Salute was first conceived in the confines of the teacher's cafeteria after a conversation between a member of the English Department a Navy Vet, and myself. As a special project in one of his classes, he had assigned students the task of doing interviews with Veterans. Those interviews were then published in a book form and shared with the community. I mentioned to him that we should feature the best of them, by having the student authors read them at some form of ceremony/salute. Like I said we have been doing that for ten years now.

This year of course there are obstacles;

The first and most daunting, The fact that Robert, my English teaching partner in crime succumbed to the demons that haunted him and committed suicide. His loss was devastating, not only to me but to the entire school.

         That obstacle was overcome when the ENTIRE English Department decided to honor his memory by taking up his mantle and making the assignment a full school project. A committee has chosen one from each of four grade levels to be included in the program.

Then, there's this whole Covid-19 disaster.

         How could we do this and still meet social distancing protocols?

         Up stepped a member of the Support Staff, The Chief Custodian (Army Vet) of the High School — "Why don't we just do it OUTSIDE?"


Then transportation became a problem, the number of students involved would have required three buses to maintain the social distance on each bus. Worried about being strapped for cash the Superindentent of Schools could not justify that.

         Cue the politician, this summer I made some new "friends", among them the local State Senator. His office went to work and we now have three Coach Buses for the day, everybody gets a row to themselves. The cost you might ask? The Senator is joining us, will make a short address, and serve as MC, though I'm not sure what price I'll be paying personally later on.

         So our schools Salute to America's Veterans will take place (weather permitting) on Tuesday, November 10th. More importantly, it will continue to take place, or so everyone at school assures me.

The Program for the Salute to America's Veterans

"Fanfare For The Common Man" by Arron Copland

A Wiki about the Fanfare's history here.  

The entry of the Massed Color Guard.

The High School Marching Band Drum Corps
The High School Color Guard
The American Legion/Veterans Of Foreign Wars Color Guard
The Marine Corps League Color Guard
The Color Guard of the Knights of Columbus

Call to Order and Pledge Of Allegiance
Building Principal

The Star Spangled Banner
High School Brass Ensemble/Marching Band Drum Corps

The Introduction and Presentation of Selected Student Essayists
English Department Chair

Address by NY State Senator

A Prayer for America's Veterans (Prayer in Trinket)

Colors Retire, accompanied by Brass Ensemble "Armed Forces Salute"

This program will be presented at seven buildings, five Elementry Schools, the Junior, and Senior High School
September 7, 2020 at 11:53am
September 7, 2020 at 11:53am
So after much prodding, poking and wrangling Mommy and Daddy have finally chosen a name for our new arrival!

A last minute hitch almost muddied the waters, but logic prevailed and Emily's Lil' Sis will not be named "Emma" not that there's anything wrong with Emma, but as I pointed out Emily has already appropriated all the nifty nicknames.

So at 11:13 WdC time last night I was officially informed that my darling new Grand Niece is —

Kailey Ann Schall

You can find all the rest of the pertinent details in here ...

Mommy and Kailey are both doing well, and barring any last minute complications will be home at some point today (Monday 9/7).

August 9, 2020 at 12:19pm
August 9, 2020 at 12:19pm
This is definitely a rant and a whiny complaint, if you don't like reading things like that RUN AWAY!

You have been Warned!

Usually I tend not to be a "sharer" of problems and those testy little things that bother me, but lately several items have been sapping my strength.

Since those things are affecting my participation here on WdC, I thought that maybe sketching them out might exorcise them and give me a bit of peace to move forward.

Retirement; How can something be exciting, scary and annoying all at the same time?

Yes, I know it's an exciting new chapter in life. I'm going to have time to do all those neat things I've been waiting to do, but haven't had the time. I get to be a better trombone player and have the time to find places and bands to play with. I'll get to play and write on WdC, without keeping an eye on the clock. I'll get the travel I've always wanted to do, without any time constraints or having to worry about crowds. Yup! Very Exciting!

But scary too; Is this the right time to retire? Will a bad economy eat my savings and pension? Band, What bands? Nobodies rehearsing or playing live ANYWHERE! Travel? Nope, can't go there. Maybe I should wait to retire? But what if I wait too long? Sigh.

And, it's annoying. This was my last year. I should be in this year; playing solos with the Concert Band (Sammy Nestico's "Reflective Moods") and Jazz Ensemble (Any one of a million great tunes), conducting the High School Musical ("Brigadoon"), it was the first show I conducted when I started teaching). Not to mention all the other goodies that won't be happening ... Thanks Pandemic.

On a personal, relative related note; My niece almost a year ago decided to become pregnant and have a baby, she decided to put the cart before the horse and have the baby before marrying the babies Daddy. Because she and the baby had no real place to live, I offered them a room in my home. Refurbishing my home office in to a bedroom/nursery. The agreement was that my niece and Daddy would contribute towards household expenses. Daddy is a lawyer for NY State DMV and makes a comfortable living.

Emily, my grandniece is a lovely baby, all smiles and giggles. She was and remains the "perfect baby", sleeping through the night pretty much as soon as she arrived home. Eating almost anything and everything. Very little crying, unless she's hungry, needs a new diaper or gets overly tired (a frequent occurrence)

Slowly but surely reality set in and showed me the error of my ways; Seems Part-time Baby Daddy is still married, and indeed still shares an abode with his wife. They do supposedly still intend to set up a house, but are looking for the "perfect home ~ must be new construction". I offered them my house upon my retirement, at whatever rate they had it appraised at — "but it's not new".

I haven't received anything for household expenses since December of last year, granted I can carry the house. But I can't understand how "part-time Daddy can justify someone else paying for the roof over his child's head.

To top it all off my niece is pregnant yet again — with apparently no plan or urgency on anyone's part for a suitable Family Dwelling for this, now family of three (or four if you count Part-time Daddies’ wife).

Lastly are two specifically WdC bugaboos;

It would seem my Muse has run off, returning briefly to taunt me, only to scamper away mid story. I’m chalking that up to the stress and concerns above, but I really think I need to lock her (the Muse … she has to be a she — no guy would have the patients to put up with me) and myself in a room and hash this out.

And the Newbie Contest? Whoever said “if you build it they will come” (actually it was “… he will come”) was fibbing to me.

Sorry to rant and whine, maybe this little entry will reignite something. Thanks for reading if you did!
August 3, 2020 at 7:47pm
August 3, 2020 at 7:47pm
Spent this evening getting ready for what looks to be a direct hit from the tropical storm, Isaias.

"Isaias seems an interesting choice for the name of a hurricane considering that, according to popular name origin websites, it means “God is my salvation.”

Isaias, pronounced ees-ah-EE-ahs, is the Spanish-Latin derivative of the Hebrew name Isaiah, a prophet in the Old Testament tied to both Jewish and Christian religions."

The storm in case you aren't watching it is expected to bring heavy rain and wind, coastal flooding as well as inland freshwater flash flooding to much of the US Eastern Seaboard.

My neck of the woods won't really see a lot of flooding, mostly overwhelmed street drains, I'm far enough inland to avoid the tidal/coastal stuff.

We do often suffer in wind storms, many trees, and branches don't mix well with our overhead utility service. The last black major blackout left us without power for about five days.

Hopefully, we pass relatively unscathed, but if not and I "disappear" for a bit, chalk it up to a power/internet outage.

Hope everyone in the storm's path stays safe and snug.
June 6, 2020 at 8:28pm
June 6, 2020 at 8:28pm
So prior to receiving guidelines from NY State regarding graduation, my local school district, who is also my employer, made rather grandiose plans for a "Socially Distanced Graduation.

I had some input into the planning, how music would or could be provided, things that were more or less in my sphere of accountability.

One of my suggestions, outside my direct accountability, was that we NOT share our plans until the State issued guidelines. That advice went unheeded. The plans were published and much to everyone's disappointment quickly quashed when the State nixed ALL Graduation Ceremonies. So now Graduation will be a drive-by affair at one of our town beaches.

So Now. Parents who were made aware of the original plan, along with the School Board are planning a protest march to display their displeasure with the State's decision. All well and good, the whole thing might have been avoided by not pre-publishing the original plan. But, what do I know?

Here's the rub and what for me indicates that the State made the right choice;

The March's Organizer SPECIFICALLY said that no Children should be brought to or included in the protest. And Yet! on Facebook, parent after parent is avowing that they will indeed be bringing their children to participate.

So, you couldn't follow a simple request not to include children and you wonder why the State took the position it did? They realized you aren't capable of following the simplest of safety protocols.

Well, at least I don't have to worry about renting that Organ now.

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