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And There I Stood with My Piccolo August 1, 2010

Posted by flutebrarian in Generalities.
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No, this isn’t about me and my piccolo playings of the summer concert season. But about a book that I’ve been waiting to read for probably 30 years since I first heard about it during a Legion Band concert.

I was playing piccolo in the American Legion Band of the Tonawandas (NY) and the piece on the program was selections from my all-time favorite musical The Music Man by Meredith Willson. Our announcer, Brad Steiger, always came up with the most interesting tidbits of musical trivia to introduce the pieces on the program. During this concert, I learned that Meredith Willson had not only composed two truly wonderful musicals (The Unsinkable Molly Brown being the other) but he had also played piccolo with the Sousa Band.

And the title of his autobiography was, you guessed it, And There I Stood with My Piccolo.

The tome had been long out of print since its publication in 1948 and a copy was not to be found. So I kinda forgot about tracking it down although it remained in the back of my mind for all these years.

Until July 3rd when I heard the Blossom Festival Band play under the direction of Loras Schissel and he told a story about Willson which ended with “and there I stood with my piccolo.” So the pursuit began again.

This time, I was armed with tools that didn’t exist 30 years ago – the Internet, Amazon.com, an iPhone, and most importantly, SearchOhio. On the way home from the concert, I got out the iPhone, headed over to Amazon.com and discovered that the book had been republished in 2009 by the University of Minnesota Press. But before I took out my credit card I thought I’d give the libraries another shot.

So, off I went to SearchOhio, a borrowing network of public libraries in Ohio offering over 10 million volumes. Lo and behold, there was ONE copy of the original edition at the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library. I immediately ordered it and in a few days, I was finally reading the memoirs.

I learned more about Willson than I ever realized – not only did he play with Sousa’s band for several years, he also played principal flute with the New York Philharmonic, studied with Georges Barrere, and became one of the top composers and conductors for radio programs in the ’30s and ’40s.

The reminiscences read like a veritable who’s who of musical circles and Hollywood celebrities. It’s a great look at the humble life of a kid from Mason City, Iowa who got started with a mail order flute and took off for New York City to make his fortune. Not content to just play in orchestras and bands, he headed for San Francisco to take a stab at radio and landed in Los Angeles to finally host his own musical radio show. He most definitely had a knack for landing in the right place at the right time.

Going Legit April 24, 2010

Posted by flutebrarian in Web Design.
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It’s official. The FluteBrarian is now an official business registered in the state of Ohio. This past month has seen legal visits, paperwork filed with the Secretary of State, a business bank account opened, and checks ordered. I’m even an official member of the Alliance Area Chamber of Commerce!

So now we have:

FluteBrarian Web Design LLC – Karen Perone, President

How cool is that? Visit www.flutebrarian.com for more info.

Starting a MySQL Database January 20, 2010

Posted by flutebrarian in Web Design.
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Today was one of those “Eureka!” days. Last fall, the library’s web server was replaced. We had a number of web databases set up in Access and ASP using FrontPage. Life was easy, life was good.

When we upgraded, the new server no longer supported FrontPage Server Extensions and all the ASP database connections broke. Life was no longer easy.

The time had come to face the fact that I needed to learn MySQL and PHP and could no longer put it off. I took an online class on the basics of MySQL through eClasses.org and got that part under control. Taking the bull by the horns, I set up the new database on the new server and figured out how to import the nearly 8,200 records.

I’ve been working on piecing together a web form with a PHP script to add new records to the database for the past few days and this afternoon … Ta da! It worked.

I still need to figure out how to create a search form that will find various strings of data. I have a script that will pass the variable and display the results but that’s not real practical for the average user.

The saga continues …

And Now… Embedded Video November 7, 2009

Posted by flutebrarian in Web Design.
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The fun doesn’t stop with embedding audio players. There is also video to consider. I’ve often wondered about how this could be done – show the first frame of the video rather than just a link to the file – so that the video is more apparent to the user than making them figure out what’s going to happen.

As I was searching for a solution, I came upon the Embedded Media HTML Generator from UCSF (http://cit.ucsf.edu/embedmedia/step1.php)

Enter the type of file you have (Flash, Real, Quicktime, or Windows Media), enter the URL of the file, and voila – the code you need is automatically generated. Copy and paste it into your web page and the user has all the player controls and a one frame preview of what’s to come.

Of course, you can also upload your 10 minute flash video file to YouTube or Facebook. Both these sites will generate the code you need as well for your web page. The advantage here is that their servers take the burden of storage and playback, both things to consider when you are paying for bandwidth and storage.

Embedding Audio Players August 29, 2009

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These days, I have a bit more time on my hands for experimenting with new web tools thanks to the State of Ohio. One of my long standing web site projects is Benjamusic.com a site for a conductor/composer friend of mine, Eric Benjamin, who has written some incredible works for orchestra, chorus, and other ensembles.

We want to make this a showplace for his works so that, hopefully, he will be able to sell or rent some of his compositions. Although I think the overall concept of the site is easy to navigate and use, it’s been two years and time for some new stuff.

We have a number of mp3 files of his compositions so the potential buyer can listen to them first. I had been using plain text links to the files, which then opened an mp3 audio player in a blank window. Useful, but the user lost touch with the description of the piece and had to use the back navigation button to return to the catalog.

I knew that it was possible to embed a player onto the page next to the description, but the HTML descriptions I had found for “object” were less than useful. After browsing several google results for “embed mp3 player” I came upon the solution.

There was an Audio Player WordPress Plugin from 1pixelout that seemed to be just what I wanted. www.1pixelout.net/code/audio-player-wordpress-plugin

A tutorial for the installation of this player on a non-Wordpress, or regular HTML website was also available. www.macloo.com/examples/audio_player

So it does take more than just the “object” element to make this thing work but fortunately, someone else had already written the javascript and created the shockwave flash file – two things at which I couldn’t even begin to figure out at this point.

Now on to changing the links to all the audio files on the site…

Playing Elijah February 9, 2009

Posted by flutebrarian in Music Performances.
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The first and only time that I have ever played Mendelssohn’s Elijah was as a terrified high school senior. I had been playing second flute to my flute teacher in a community orchestra with the man who would become my college flute teacher as the conductor. This year was my first experience playing in an orchestra and a great experience to prepare me for college.

Then my flute teacher dropped the bomb – she couldn’t play the Elijah concert. She wanted ME to play principal.

Shyly (as I did many things then) I agreed, not knowing what I was up against. Somehow, I made it through the performance and was completely overwhelmed by the whole experience.

Fast forward about 34 years…

Now, I have about 12 years experience as the principal flute in the Tuscarawas Philharmonic Orchestra and it’s Mendelssohn’s 200th birthday. Time to bring Elijah back to life!

I can honestly say that none of the oratorio sounded familiar, except for the crazy E major scale with the long D# trill at the end in one of the movements. This time, the run and the trill went off without a hitch. A triumph at last.

The performance went extremely well and Ron Barkett was an incredible Elijah. I found myself in a trance as I sat through my tacet movement while listening to the wonderful duet between Ron and principal cellist Elaine Anderson. Wow. Just beautiful.

And conductor Eric Benjamin – where would we be without him? His ability to pull chorus, soloists, staging and orchestra together is uncanny. He makes our work so easy and definitely never boring…

Guru Lists September 29, 2008

Posted by flutebrarian in Web Design.
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There’s no doubt that Sitepoint.com is one of my favorite web sites and publishing companies. Their articles are chock full of information on all sorts of web coding topics and they are written for the average person (non-code geek) to understand. In fact, I think I’ve expanded my CSS knowledge through many of their tutorials and books.

So, when I discovered their Guru Lists, I thought they’d be a good thing for future use. A couple that are excellent for expanding your design knowledge are Color for Coders and CSS Positioning Properties At-A-Glance.

Here’s to exploring!

Taking My CSS on the Road September 22, 2008

Posted by flutebrarian in Librarianship, Web Design.
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Friday, I had the opportunity to present a program on CSS at the Eastern Great Lakes Innovative Users Group meeting. We get a lot of clues on how to code a document and code “cookbooks” are great for a quick fix.

But how much do we really know about how the cascade really works? How do we troubleshoot the font that appears to shrink on the screen? What kinds of tools are available for determining inheritance features?

These were the kinds of things that I covered in the presentation “CSS: Beyond the Code.” If you are interested in troubleshooting tools that you can use in Firefox, check out Janet Stewart’s presentation that preceded mine called “The Web Developer’s Best Friend: Firefox Extensions.” I’ve also created a page that includes the links from the presentation in case you’re interested.

Starting a Website August 11, 2008

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One of the websites that I created and maintain is for the Alliance Alumni of Mu Phi Epsilon.

Last week, I received a call from our chapter president that we had won the award for the best alumni website for the year! Wow – the SECOND year in a row! I’ve designed a lot of websites, but this is the only award that I have ever won. Quite an honor.

Since then, I’ve gotten a few inquiries on how to get started. So I thought that this would be a good place to share some ideas on some best practices.

The first thing to do is get your domain name registered. I use a company called 1and1.com (that’s one and one) They are very inexpensive and have a good track record for service. Other companies can also offer you this service. Search your favorite search engine for “domain name service” for a listing of companies.

Next look for a hosting service – a place to put your website. The domain service company may also offer web hosting. You can also search for “web hosting”. Or, you can try the free route through your local public library or school if your chapter is affiliated with a college or university. In our case, our public library offers free web space to non-profit organizations in our community.

These two things should at least get you started. Some companies like 1and1.com, have templates readily available that allow you to just pick a design and type in your info – voila – instant web presence that looks good!

In future installments, look for hints on good and bad design, format vs. function, and Karen’s number one rule of web design: “Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.”

Another Closing of Another Show June 22, 2008

Posted by flutebrarian in Music Performances.
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The folks at Carnation City Players (CCP) have done it again! Today wrapped up a two weekend run of the hilarious musical HONK! at the Firehouse Theater in Alliance, OH. It was a work of shear delight both to the eyes and ears.

But there was a twist to the birth of this show about the Ugly Duckling.

You see, the show was changed at the eleventh hour due to casting problems with the original show. Director Don McCallister had the original show all blocked, musical director Kim Lewis had all the musicians lined up. A couple weeks were lost in trying to fill in the crucial gaps in the casting before it was decided to jump ship and pull out Honk to replace it.

So, instead of the usual 6 or 7 weeks used to stage a musical, only 5 weeks was available. All but one cast member from the original auditions said they would participate and the preparation began. Fortunately, Don had staged this show elsewhere and had retained all his notes. Of course, his skill at pulling things together and the dedication of the all-volunteer cast and crew didn’t hurt either.

Not only did the director have to shift gears, but costumes, sets, lighting and props had to be changed quickly as well.

And change they did. We no longer had soldiers on stage, but ducks, turkeys, frogs, and chickens. Oh, and don’t forget the cats and swans.

Mama duck and the duck family were wonderful and Ugly’s transition through “the molt” was mesmerizing. But theĀ  cast members who stole the show were the cats and the bullfrog. I’ll never look at my cat the same way again….