Music Ministries Internship

Sunday, January 26th, 2014
Children's choir.jpgThis semester, I am completing a music ministry internship at a large church.  I am serving as an assistant to  the Director of Instrumental Music and Children's Choirs.  I will be assisting in planning and organizing church music ministries, services, and special events.  I will be aiding in the recruitment and payment of personnel needed for worship services and events and will be assisting the volunteer Children's Choir Directors in planning and organization as needed.  I will be attending the worship planning meetings and will be observing the adult choir, orchestra, and worship team rehearsals.

cello.jpgOver the past two weeks I have already been stretched a lot and have discovered that there is so much that I have yet to learn in tis field.  Our worship pastor and instrumental music director have strongly recommended that in addition to my required classes for my major, I sit in on the instrumental technique classes so that I can learn as much as possible about how to play every instrument.  I do not have to reach an advanced level in each of the instruments, but I do need to be able to play simple songs and sight read simple music. This will help me be:

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Music_practice_rooms.jpgI thought I would share a bit about how I benefited from the Lenovo Tablet 2 last semester as a music student.  While there are not quite as many apps in Windows 8 as there are for Apple devices, I was able to find several piano apps that allowed me to again be more mobile:  I was no longer tied to a physical piano in order to complete some of my music homework and I cannot begin to describe how freeing this was.  In addition, I found a free app called "Winterval Trainer 8" which plays a series of notes and allows you to quiz yourself on intervals and gives you tips for how to recognize them.  This was a huge help in my Aural Skills class when we had to be able to identify and correctly write down a series of notes that are played for us.  

Piano KeyboardI was able to download pdfs of music and play some songs off of that.  I found that the screen size made it difficult to read a full piano score, however it was possible to read chord charts.  I was not able to test this feature, but a friend of mine wound up scanning his music for choir and reading off of that so that he did not have to worry about turning pages or finding the correct page/book.  This was very effective for him and I hope to do the same next semester.

Mozart ManuscriptI also wanted to expand a bit on my experience with the Surface Pro as a musician.  While I am not a composition major, I do have to compose for various school projects.  As a test for the Surface, I downloaded a free trial of Finale, the primary music notation program we use on campus, and proceeded to engrave the first page of a Mozart sonata.  I tried various methods of entry (touch, stylus, mouse, and USB piano keyboard) and determined that the best way to enter music into the Surface was via a USB piano keyboard and a mouse.  Entry was rather slow without a number pad, and the size of a screen only makes it realistic to enter music for 1-3 instruments, but the software worked and proved that the surface can be used as an effective idea capture tool.  (Note, I only used the free Finale Software and did not install the Garritan Sound Bank.)  It would be interesting to see a Finale App for a tablet so that I could split my screen and have on half be a piano keyboard for entry and the other half be the Finale software.

TMC Handbells perform "Rain"

Wednesday, July 17th, 2013

Take Me Out to the ’Bell’ Game!

Tuesday, July 16th, 2013
Last spring, I took a course in Event Planning, and for my final project, I had to coordinate either a real or imaginary event. I chose to coordinate The Master's College Spring Handbell Concert and learned a lot about planning an event from start to finish, managing a group of people, and creating a logical flow that engaged the audience. I will be posting several videos from that concert over the next few days. Video credit goes to Peter Johnson for spending several hours taking and editing the video.

The first song I wanted to share was actually the finale of the concert. It is an arrangement of "Take Me Out to the 'Bell' Game" in the style of a cheesy waltz, Pink Panther, and Magnificent 7. It was arranged by myself and a fellow student, Morgan Ruthard, as a final project for our Handbell Directing course. We really enjoyed adding a bit of drama to this song and I hope you enjoy it.

Tips on preparing a score

Sunday, June 2nd, 2013
The ConductorThis past school year, I took both Beginning and Advanced Conducting classes at The Master’s College.  While these classes were required for my major, I honestly didn’t think I would enjoy conducting.  After all, it’s much more fun to play an instrument than to stand up there waving your arms to keep the beat, right?  And who watches the conductor anyway?

I had no idea how wrong I was.  After the very first class period, I realized that conducting is so much more than being a metronome.  It’s about creating music, much like the way an artist creates a painting.  As the conductor, I can “play” all of the instruments in the orchestra, or all of the voices in the choir.  I am not limited to one instrument and I have the ability to fine tune every sound of every instrument.  Through these classes, I not only grew to appreciate my conductors more, but I also realized how much I loved conducting.

Shortly before beginning the Orchestral Conducting segment of my Advanced Conducting course, I met with my orchestra conductor at Grace Baptist, Lisa Hernacki. Every two weeks our orchestra prepares several songs for the Sunday Services in addition to our Christmas, Easter, and special concerts, and I wanted to understand how she could get to know all of the scores that well in such a short amount of time. Mrs. Hernacki’s advice was so helpful that I thought I would share her steps with any other interested musician.

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Sing We Now A’Wassailing!

Wednesday, June 6th, 2012
The Fellowship of the RingThis past Christmas, The Fellowship of the Ring had the incredible privilege of performing in The Master's College 2011 Come Christmas Sing. Our quartet, which consisted of Lindsay Christoph, Wendy Mack, Amy Mack, and Morgan Ruthardt performed both outside as the audience was standing in line waiting to enter and inside during the concert. The theme of this year's concert was the 1920's, so during the prelude our quartet dressed in fur coats and top hats and stood in front of the building. We performed numerous four-in-hand pieces that Amy arranged for our group.

As part of a class project, Morgan Ruthardt and I edited a handbell piece arranged by Paul Ellsworth. We auditioned the piece and were accepted into the concert. We had a wonderful time being a part of Come Christmas Sing in this way and we are looking forward to hopefully doing it again in the future.

Mack Family Update: First Semester Completed!

Wednesday, December 21st, 2011
It has been quite a while since I have been able to blog as I have been incredibly busy preparing for and going through my first semester of college.  I thought I would share a little bit about what that has been like for me:

 Wendy talks to friends while waiting for her student ID on the first day of collegeMy first semester in college has been a dream-come-true!  I am a double major in Worship Music Ministries and Liberal Arts and it has been amazing to be able to focus on areas that I really love.  I have just finished taking twenty units which has been intense but incredibly worth it.  This first semester I mostly took general education classes and a few of the basic classes required for my major and I thoroughly enjoyed it!
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Please help me win a scholarship!

Tuesday, March 15th, 2011
I have been working very hard to raise the money that I need to attend The Master's College through scholarships.  My goal is to double major in Worship Music Ministries and Liberal Arts.

I recently applied for a $3,000 scholarship through WyzAnt, where I write an essay about who is my most important teacher and receive votes on my essay.  I need to make it into the top 10 to be considered for the scholarship.  Will you please help me earn this scholarship?

Just go to this site and vote for my essay entitled "Dr. Englin - Bringing the spark back into learning".

Thank you so much!


Monday, January 17th, 2011
Amy leading music for the JAM JellybeansI absolutely LOVE working with children and I also love music.  So what could be better than combining these two things in one wonderful ministry?

For the past two years now, I have been able to serve as the Music Director for the four and five year old JAM Jellybean Class - a Bible club for the younger children.  Every week I prepare fun Bible songs for them to sing and then lead them in "song time" for twenty minutes.  We sing anything from the Hippopotamus song, to the B-I-B-L-E and enjoy singing about God's love for us.

Continue Reading "Hip-hip-hip-hippopotamus" »

Ringing in the Christmas season

Wednesday, December 1st, 2010
This Christmas was full of music for Wendy and I as we performed with seven different groups over the holiday season.  All but one of the groups were in handbells - the most handbells groups we have ever been in at one time.  
Amy watches the conductor during a handbell performance
Through The Master's College handbell groups, we had the privilege of playing in the annual Come Christmas Sing concerts - a week long concert series put on by the college and featuring a wide variety of music and instruments.  We were also able to expand our musical abilities under the direction of Professor Claire Blackwell and enjoyed playing songs such as, "Angels We Have Heard on High", "The First Noel", "Joy to the World", and even a funky version of "We Wish You a Merry Christmas".

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What Child is This?

Wednesday, December 1st, 2010
This past semester, our handbell trio The Fellowship of the Ring  had the opportunity to perform in the prelude of The Master's College annual Come Christmas Sing Christmas Concerts.  We performed Wendy's and my arrangement of "What Child is This".

From left to right:  Wendy Mack,  Amy Mack, Morgan RuthardtThis particular song really stretched the three of us as we had to come up with creative ways to cover as many bells as possible while still making the piece look easy and sound good to the audience.  The song included everything from the very lowest bells (weighing nearly sixteen pounds apiece!)  to some of the highest and each of             us covered over an octave of bells.

Through this semester we have been able to expand our repertoire as well as enjoy practicing challenging pieces together.  This next semester we are looking forward to playing a Lord of the Rings medley (since our group is named after it) and to pulling off another fun song!

Twelfth Annual Master’s College Bellfest

Sunday, November 28th, 2010
This month, my sisters and I participated in the 12th annual Master's College Bellfest, a fun listening and learning opportunity for handbell ringers and lovers.   We had over ten choirs and small ensembles from all over southern California share their works, including a special mini-concert by renowned solo ringer Christine Anderson.  While there, each choir was able to sight read through a new piece while learning many new and fun techniques as well as participate in a mass ring of Joel Raney's arrangement of "We Three Kings".

We'd like to thank Claire Blackwell for coordinating the event and Christine Anderson for directing and teaching us.  We all learned a lot and really appreciated all the hard work that was put into this.

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Andantino - The Fellowship of the Ring

Sunday, November 28th, 2010

This year, Wendy and I have had the opportunity to experience small ensemble ringing through our group - The Fellowship of the Ring. We started this trio last year with our friend Morgan Ruthardt and enjoyed it so much that we decided to continue this semester. At the beginning of the semester, the three of us made the decision that the trio would only play music that was either written or arranged by someone in the group, allowing us the freedom to play whatever song we want in whatever way we want to play it. Because we are all either music majors or music lovers, writing our own music has been great and has helped us all grow in our music abilities. It has given us a better understanding of the pieces we are playing (how they work and fit together) and has also been a lot of fun!

Last semester we started our first performance off with a comedy skit on "I've got the Joy". In the skit, Morgan is trying to be very professional and solemn while playing this Sunday school song - without the joy. The other two players (Wendy and I) aren't exactly thrilled with that and keep trying to take over the song to "liven" it up a bit - much to Morgan's frustration . Throughout the song the three of us constantly go back and forth - each one trying to take control of the song and play as they think it should be played until the climax, where the three ringers finally all agree on the best way to play the song.

This semester we decided to do two new songs. Over the summer, Wendy and I arranged "What Child is This" for the trio while Morgan worked on arranging the song "Andantino". We have really enjoyed playing both of these beautiful pieces and have had the opportunity to play in the annual Master's College Bellfest and are looking forward to performing in the Master's College Come Christmas Sing this year. Below is a video of our trio performing "Andantino" at Bellfest.

We have really enjoyed this special opportunity both in increasing our skill with the bells and in building friendships and have already started planning some very special (and fun) pieces for next year!

We Three Kings (Mass ring at Bellfest 2010)

Saturday, November 27th, 2010

What do you get when you combine three timpanis, several percussion instruments, a synthesizer, and several full bell choirs? Some great music and a lot of fun!

This fall The Master's College held their 12th annual Bell festival (Bellfest) which we had the opportunity to participate in. Each of the several choirs and small ensembles performed their works and there were some amazing pieces! We even got to hear a small mini concert by Christine Anderson, a renowned solo ringer who wowed us all with her quick playing and juggling bells!

The concert ended with a mass ring where all the participating choirs played together along with the percussion and synth. Under the conducting of Christine Anderson, we played Joel Raney's mystical arrangement of "We Three Kings" which uses a variety of techniques and sounds to make you feel as if you were on the journey with the wise men.

The Jubilant Four

Saturday, November 27th, 2010

At the beginning of this semester an interesting problem arose for Master's College Jubilation Handbell Choir. While the group was scheduled to meet twice a week, class conflicts prevented all but four of us to meet for the second rehearsal. Our handbell director Claire Blackwell decided to use the time instead to help the four members who could make practice learn how to do four-in-hand ringing. The result? The Jubilant Four was formed.

The four of us (Wendy Mack, Amy Mack, Steffie Hydanus, and Hannah Knapp) decided that we would become a four-in-hand quartet. Four-in-hand ringing is a special technique where each person holds four bells (two in each hand) and keeps holding them for the entire song. While only sixteen bells can be played per song, we are able to use those bells in combinations to make the sound lively and full. Unlike most choirs, we do not use tables, allowing us the freedom to walk around and stand with the audience. We have all enjoyed learning this new technique from Mrs. Blackwell and have had a lot of fun getting to know each other better!


This summer, my sisters and I decided to prepare a special piece to perform at the Master's College annual Bellfest and chose the song "O Holy Night". While Wendy and I have been ringing bells for a long time, this was Emily and Kelly's first time to ring handbells and they were very eager to learn. We had a lot of fun practicing together and filling the house with music (although I think Mom and Dad may have gotten a little tired of the same song being played over and over) and were able to pull it off. It was amazing to see how quickly the piece came together and how smoothy it went.

We were able to perform our song in the Master's college Bellfest and really enjoyed it! Below is the video of us all playing this piece.

Playing this song was a lot of fun and the four of us are looking forward to doing more together soon!

The Pied Piper of the Mack House

Monday, November 1st, 2010
Emily proudly displays her new fluteRecently, I have been bartering baby-sitting services in trade for flute lessons. I have learned many notes, some songs, and even a few duets with my instructor, Jennifer Douglas! I have been interested in the flute for at least three years, and at our church’s annual Celebrate Music concert, where they play fun songs and afterwards, let you try some instruments, I always went and tried the flute.

By about the second year, I realized that the same person, Mrs. Douglas, that I’d tried the flute with before was there. It went the same way the following year and finally, I talked to my parents about wanting to play the flute and they came up with the idea of bartering baby-sitting for flute lessons! It worked, and I am enjoying my flute and my lessons!

Blogging from the Pit

Tuesday, October 5th, 2010
Wendy poses with her violaNo, not that kind of pit.  Amy and I are very excited to be a part of the Grace Baptist Church Praise Orchestra!  Ever since we were little, I've wanted to be a part of this special ministry.  I remember always rushing up to the musicians after the service to ask and learn about their instruments and I especially remember one Easter when I told Don Valentine, the percussionist, that one day, I was going to join the orchestra.

My opportunity came in my freshman year of high school.  Because we are enrolled in the A Beka Academy program, we were able to take many courses through DVD.  When I learned that there was a DVD course to teach me how to play any stringed instrument, I was really excited and, after discussing it with Lisa Hernacki, the church orchestra director, Amy and I decided to learn the viola.

At last, our DVDs arrived and as we started studying under the Jaffé Strings Program, screeches filled the house as our family and neighbors had to put up with - not one - but two beginning string players.  I am so grateful that they did support me, and that they never made negative remarks.  It didn't take too long, however, for us to begin experimenting with our instruments.  We were so excited when we were able to sound out Pirates of the Caribbean (the original song from the ride) on our instruments as well as several other songs!

Grace Baptist Church Praise OrchestraAs we finished up the second year of our study under the strings program, we began preparing to audition for the Grace Baptist Church Orchestra.  The first violinist in the orchestra, Patti Graham, was such a big help and encouragement, and she helped us go through an intense three month "viola boot camp" to help us get ready for our auditions.  At the end of August, Amy and I auditioned for Mrs. Hernacki and were accepted into the orchestra!

It 's been a wonderful experience to be a part of this incredible group of people.  It has been such a big blessing to me as I start to pursue music more seriously, and, although we still hear the regular viola jokes (what violist doesn't?), all of the musicians are so positive and encouraging!  I am grateful for the privilege to be a part of this special family.

Directing My First Bell Choir

Sunday, October 3rd, 2010
Wendy directing the bell choir"Don't let anyone think less of you because you are young.  Be an example to all believers in what you teach, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity." - 1 Timothy 4:12

For several years, a set of two octave handbells have been sitting in the attic of the local church, just waiting for someone to come along to start a bell choir - I guess that someone was me.

The bell choirLast year, one of the members of the church mentioned the bells and asked if Amy or I would be interested in directing a choir.  At the time, while I really wanted to help, I couldn't imagine myself directing a bell choir where I would be the youngest person there.  
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Memories of Mrs. Annabelle Cothren

Thursday, December 31st, 2009
AnnabelleCothren.jpgProvidence seems to bring surprises at the most unexpected times.  On Wednesday, December 30, my daughters and I arrived in Modesto to visit my family for the New Year's weekend.  Upon my arrival, my sister handed me the local newspaper, folded open to the obituary page.  It seems my high school choir director had lived her last years not too terribly far from Modesto, and had just passed into Glory.  Her funeral was to be held the following day at the local cemetery.  

My dad passed away in 1996, and it meant the world to me that people I had never met came forward to share their good experiences and memories of my father.  They either did so by showing up at my mom's door, or by attending his service.  After that experience, I realized that I wanted the families of those I know who died,  always to know how special their loved one was to me.  If I could not attend the service, I would try to send a card with a special story.  So, it didn't take but a minute to decide to attend Mrs. Cothren's funeral.

Continue Reading "Memories of Mrs. Annabelle Cothren" »

Today, my sister and I rang in The Master's College 11th annual Bellfest, led by Artist in Residence Christine Anderson. (We're in the back row, at 1:19 on the video).

My sister and I had the double treat of ringing not only with our own church handbell choir, the Master's Hands, but also with Jubilation, one of the handbell choirs at The Master's College.

This is the last song that we rang.  It was written by John F. Wade, arranged by Cynthia Dobrinski, and conducted by Christine Anderson.
Today I took the time to play around with my Finale music composition software.  Unfortunately, I bit off more than I could chew in trying to compose and arrange my own piece of music as I know very little about writing or arranging music.  So, after two and a half hours of banging my head against the computer trying to create something playable, I was incredibly frustrated by the time I went to talk to my father.


My father listened to me as I told him all about my frustrations, then he suggested I try something different.  He recommended taking the easiest children's song I could think of and arranging a simple piece - which I did.  I chose the song "I've got the Joy Joy Joy Joy" by George Willis Cooke.

My Dad must have been in a ragtime mood because when I showed him my arrangement he challenged me to write something worthy of a ragtime pianist at Disneyland.  I took his challenge and began to play around with it on the piano until I knew how I wanted it to sound. After that, the notes came easily and in twenty minutes I had finished my first ragtime piano duet.

I hope you enjoy-joy-joy-joy this arrangement!

Here's my arrangement:

You might enjoy reading and trying to keep up with the lyrics here.

(Right-click on the link below to save the mp3 file to your computer.)

How Can I Keep from Singing Your Praise?

Sunday, December 16th, 2007
If you have ever had the experience of associating a positive experience at an event with a particular song or type of music, you'll know what I'm referring to in this post.

Last month, when I went to Manila to deliver the Beyond-Planning: eProductivity conference, I also attended church services at the Cathedral of Praise. Since my conference was during the week, I had the opportunity to attend several services at each weekend.

While some of the worship experience was new for me, we worship the same God and read from the same Bible. One of the worship songs that I heard at each service was called "How can I keep from singing your praise" by songwriter Chris Tomlin. What a beautiful song of expression of love and worship for our creator.

It's become a powerful worship song for me, as well as a sweet reminder of my time of fellowship with the dear people at COP.

I was unfamiliar with this song or songwriter, but it turns out that we sing many of Chris Tomlin's songs in our worship service, too.  Chris has an amazing gift for capturing the essence in true worship in his songs. For me, Chris' songs create a sense of awe and wonder and they add to my personal worship experience.

When I returned to the states, I went to iTunes store and purchased this song and four additional worship songs by Chris.

      How Great is Our God
      Made to Worship
      How Can I Keep from Singing
      Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone)

These are now on my iPod for my morning quiet (well, not so quiet) time.

Continue Reading "How Can I Keep from Singing Your Praise?" »

Musings on jet lag, conf prep, and favorite hymns

Wednesday, November 21st, 2007
I crashed hard last night at about 7:30 PM local time. Now, it's 3:43 AM local time and I'm wide awake. I'd rather be on this side of jet lag. Anyway, I enjoyed a nice quiet time, reading my Bible and listening to my favorite hymns and worship songs in my hotel room. I'm normally a late night person, and while getting up early for a quiet time has long been a desire of mine, it does not happen as often as I would like. So, I'm thankful for opportunities like these when I actually get up before the clock sounds.

Focusing on the outcome
This conference has required so much work and preparation that's easy to forget the purpose of the conference itself and focus on mechanics and delivery. The purpose of this conference is about helping people. I desire to be a part of that process, by sharing some of what I have learned in the past 25 years in business with the hope that others will find some of it useful and learn from it, too. I'm really excited about the vision that Pastor Sumrall has for these conferences that he does each year to help the people of Manila and I'm honored to be invited to be this year's featured speaker. It's an awesome responsibility and opportunity.

Continue Reading "Musings on jet lag, conf prep, and favorite hymns" »
This weekend, Amy and Wendy were invited to participate in Bellfest 2007 at The Master's College.  Christine Anderson taught a bell class for small groups, ensembles, and solos.  Amy and Wendy prepared a beautiful piece to share at the concert at the end of the day. (Click on the image to watch the video)

What's amazing is that the girls accomplished this using two inexpensive sets of children's bells. If you've ever seen or rung one of these bells - where the clapper can go in any direction - you will know how hard it is to get one of these bells to ring only once or on queue. Amy and Wendy perfected a technique that allowed them to do this well, and they were an inspiration to everyone present.  I'm very proud of them..

I'm also very appreciative of Mrs. Anderson for her kindness and invitation and inspiration to my children.

You can visit Christine Anderson's web site at Voices in Bronze
Andre Rieu and his little guest 3yr old Akim.

Recorded live with Johann Strauss Orchestra in the Nederlands.

Making Music in the Digital Sandbox

Monday, July 11th, 2005
What's a day in the sandbox without music? As part of our office tour, Michael Sampson spotted the contraption in the center of my office - a collection of pipes, wires, and cables. When he asked what it was, I decided to show him; rather, I decided to play it for him.

Listen along for a digital-to-analog treat, live from my Digital Sandbox

Making Music in the Digital Sandbox

Eric Mack On-line - June 16, (3 min 26 sec) MP3 1.7 MB

Making Music in the Digital SandBox

Music & Speech

Sunday, July 13th, 2003
Today, Kathy and I are in Ontario, California, participating in a Home Education Conference.  (CHEA)  We attended fascinating presentation, entitled, "The Profound Effects of Music on Life," by Andrew Pudewa.  In his presentation, Pudewa describes in detail, the beneficial as well as potentially detrimental effects which various types of music have on living things, namely children.  I bought the tape series.  I'll try to find a link to the program. His current web site, does not yet have it listed.

Music to our ears

Monday, June 16th, 2003
Tonight, the girls and I purchased a console organ for Kathy's birthday.  The deal was too good to pass up:  The organist of the local church passed away a few years ago, and her husband decided to sell her console organ along with her entire music library -- all for $300.  I had known the woman and her husband from my time serving at the church many years ago, and she was very fond of Amy & Wendy.  Kathy and I discussed the organ and she said that she would like to have it for the girls to learn to play, but that it should be presented as "Mom's organ."  
Image:Music to our ears
All I needed to do now, was to convince my children that it would be worth "borrowing" $300 from our savings towards a future trip to Disneyland to buy the organ.  They were unimpressed with the idea.  I finally convinced Amy and Wendy to  go with me to check out the organ -- just to "look" at it.  Well, they came along, arms folded, unsure of the wisdom of this purchase vs the potential future fun of going to Disneyland at the end of the year.  The elderly man who owned the organ told us all about it; the girls remained unconvinced.  Then he offered to allow them to "test" the organ themselves; they sat down, and played a duet of "heart and soul."  Moments later, it was all over; we were the proud owners of a console organ.  (I will spare you the details of all I learned about how [not] to move an organ.)

So now, we have this beautiful console organ sitting in our living room.  We have managed to play the National Anthem, Take me out to the ball game, a few hymns, and other classics.  Kathy wants to be able to play the song from Swiss Family Robinson  for the girls, and I envision myself playing Phantom of the Opera.  I have been able to figure out what the two keyboards, the bass pedals, and most of the top two rows of switches and levers do -- at least functionally -- but I am clueless on some of the other controls.  Fortunately, the organ can also be controlled by a computer through a MIDI interface, so I know I can make it work that way.  I am sure that there are books or places to get started learning, and I will start researching these shortly.

Happiest Music on Earth?

Tuesday, August 13th, 2002
Close your eyes and imagine that you are on a carousel. (Click to listen)   Hear the music?  Does it make you feel happy?  Are you there?  

Sometimes, when I get ready to study and I want to put myself into a happy mood, I hook up my calliope and play some happy music. I find that my disposition changes and the burdens of the world are lifted - as if I were a child again.   Of course sometimes I just do this because it is an excuse not to study -- which I am supposed to be doing right now. :-)

Image:Happiest Music on Earth?
Listening to music like this brings back find memories of when I was a kid. There was a man in our neighborhood who restored carousel band organs as a hobby. On Saturday mornings, he would start up his band organ and kids would come running for blocks around to sit on his lawn and wiggle to the happy music.

That experience inspired me to desire to have a band organ of my own -- until I found out how expensive they were to own and maintain. A few years ago, I began researching the idea of building one and making it computer controlled so that I would have an endless supply of MIDI files to control it with.  This has been a long project and I am certain to have many years of work still ahead of me. So far, I have completed the MIDI controlled Calliope (see above) and a MIDI controlled Glockenspiel. I am almost done with a MIDI controlled Accordion. Next, will be the rhythm section. All of this is powered  by my Oreck XL vacuum, which you can see in the above photo.

Watch a vacuum cleaner powered calliope play a patriotic greeting!
    Broadband - RealMedia 300 Kbps
    Low-Speed - RealMedia Dial-up

Here's a treat.  It's a video clip of my computer-controlled calliope powered by an 8 lb Oreck XL vacuum cleaner. The video clip is in RealMedia format and you can watch it by clicking on the link below. During the video, be sure to watch for the Mack sisters, our American Bear, the vacuum cleaner (which you can hear in the background) and the laptop computer that controls the entire performance.

* MIDI stands for "Musical Instrument Digital Interface" - a computer control system where a computer can control musical instruments, lights, or other equipment.

PMC Lilac Festival - Eric toots his horn

Saturday, May 18th, 2002
20020518 Eric Calliope at PMC Lilac festival.jpg

Eric recently completed building a computer-controlled calliope powered by, of all things, our Oreck XL vacuum cleaner.

Eric and the gilrs brought the calliope down to the Lilac Festival to share with folks at the festival. It ws a big hit.

This video clip is a treat. Eric has completed building his computer-controlled calliope powered by his 8 lb Oreck XL vacuum cleaner. The video clip is in RealMedia format and you can watch it by clicking on the link below. During the video, be sure to watch for the Mack sisters, our American Bear, the vacuum cleaner (which you can hear in the background) and the laptop computer that controls the entire performance.

Watch Eric's vacuum cleaner powered calliope play a patriotic greeting!
(Click here for low-speed version)