Posted by midiguru on January 11, 2011
Now and then I get a call from an adult who has conceived a desire to play the cello. Because I teach, I’m always happy to help them get started. But I’ve learned to give them a gentle warning up front.
What I tell them is this: I’ve had several adult students who started as beginners, stuck with it for several years, and made very considerable progress. But I’ve also seen several who started taking lessons but soon gave it up. I’m sure the main reason is because learning to play the cello turned out to be more of a challenge than they were prepared for.
When I get that initial call, I usually suggest that if the prospective student doesn’t already have a cello, they should find a nearby store that does monthly rentals with a rent-to-own option. A decent cello is expensive, and there’s no point in laying out a pile of cash until you’re sure you’re going to want to stick with it.
How expensive? Depends on what you mean by “decent.” I usually try to find good things to say about a student’s cello, but if you’re spending less than $2,500, you’re not going to enjoy playing as much, because the cello is simply not going to produce the kind of warm tone that probably inspired you to want to start taking lessons.
Once they’ve started lessons, I usually tell them this: When you watch a good cellist, he or she makes it look easy. Yo-Yo Ma is inspiring to watch, because he can do anything on the cello and make it look easy and natural. But in fact, the use of the arms, hands, and fingers is not Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in cello, music | 3 Comments »
Posted by midiguru on January 10, 2011
For the past year or so, my electric cello has been languishing, in its case in the closet, surrounded by its amp and other accessories. Yesterday I had an impulse to get it out and start using it again.
In spite of the obvious major similarities, it’s a very different instrument from the acoustic! And not just visually, but as an instrument. Visually, it’s a plank. There’s no body. And the headstock is a flying-V design, with all of the tuning gears on one side. They’re black — very classy — but yet it’s clear at a glance that we’ve left the Italian Renaissance far behind.
It’s a five-string cello, with a high E string. I once phoned Ifshin Violins in El Cerrito and said, “I need to buy a cello E string,” and the person said, “There’s no such thing as a cello E string.” Ah, but they were wrong. You can also buy a low F string, if you want to play in the bass register. My cello came with a second nut, grooved for the lower string set (F-C-G-D-A), but after trying it out for an hour I decided Read the rest of this entry »
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Posted by midiguru on January 9, 2011
I favor a strict constructionist view of the Second Amendment. What the Founding Fathers clearly had in mind was this: Anyone should be allowed to carry a single-shot, muzzle-loading flintlock at any time.
It’s hard to commit mass mayhem with a single-shot, muzzle-loading flintlock. After you fire one shot (two if you’re carrying a pair of pistols) you have to pause to reload. Bystanders will have plenty of time to wrestle you to the ground.
I’m sure Antonin Scalia would agree with me on this interpretation. Scalia recently went on record as asserting that the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment doesn’t apply to women. That’s what he said: Discrimination against women is legal, because at the time when the Fourteenth Amendment was written, the men who wrote it didn’t intend Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in politics, society & culture | 8 Comments »
Posted by midiguru on January 8, 2011
After ignoring interactive fiction for a couple of months, I’m drifting back in that direction.
The release of the Quixe browser interpreter piques my interest: It’s now possible for casual users to play text adventures in their Web browser even if the game file is large. Parchment has been out for a year or so, but it could load only small-format games. I tend to be verbose.
In-browser play is a nice thing because it eliminates the need to download and install a separate interpreter. Not that that’s a big deal … unless you’re entirely new to playing IF. But if we hope to expand the audience, we have to accept that large numbers of players will be newcomers.
New updates of Inform 7 are appearing on an accelerated schedule, and that’s good news. It’s still an oddball language in many ways, but now the bugs are being fixed more quickly.
Last night I started looking around at casual games, a genre (or medium, or format) that I was only vaguely aware of before. As attractive as some of these games are, and as much fun as it looks to be to design one, I’m not Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Interactive Fiction, random musings | 3 Comments »