How did TortoiseClimbing come to be?  Depending on your philosophy of how, or why things happen, you could perceive the creation, or coming into existence of TortoiseClimbing as a logical evolution, serendipitous happenstance, or perhaps destiny. Here's the story.


Singing was a major catalyst.  David began singing in elementary school choruses.  (Remember when public schools included music education in elementary, then junior and high schools?) He continued singing in choruses and doing solos through high school, college and after. Those provided many wonderful life experiences. 

He became involved in various community singing activities, including:

In the latter 1980's David’s singing gradually evolved toward a greater emphasis on solo opportunities. Beginning in approximately 1990, based on a desire to do more with his love of singing, David started dabbling at recording.

The reason David wound up recording at Bias Recording Studio, rather than at a number of other studios in the Washington, DC metro area, where he had previously recorded for very small special projects, was particularly influenced by geographic location of the studio, and a personal friend.  That friend was making personal recordings at Bias Recording Studio and asked David to do some duets with him there. 

Mr. Bill McElroy, who was one of two partners who established Bias, has a knack for being supportive and helpful to his clients, and getting them comfortable recording in a studio.  David's friend largely worked with Mr. McElroy. Thus, when David began making his own recordings, Mr. McElroy continued as David's recording engineer at Bias Recording Studio, and the initial album of Nostalgic Solos recording were mostly done with him.

Small World

Mr. McElroy's previous experiences in the recording industry provide another illustration of how incredably small a world we tend to revolve within.  Before Mr. McElroy and his partner started Bias, Bill was a recording engineer at Edgewood Recording Studio in downtown Washington, DC.  That recording studio had been used by David’s college choir director, Mr. Fague Springmann, who was literally a bass-baritone operatic voice to die for.

That was before multitrack master tapes, when editing meant using a razor blade to cut the tape to take out the unwanted recording take and to splice in the desired recording take.  During the period David sang in Mr. Springmann’s choir in college, he had the opportunity to accompany Mr. Springmann to one of his editing sessions at Edgewood

Mr. Springmann was instrumental in facilitating a number of wonderful choral experiences in David's college life.  Those occurred because Mr. Springmann commonly lobbied for his chorus to be used as the supporting chorus. Those opportunities occurred because of his operatic bass-baritone voice, which caused him to be selected to do solos for very well-known classical venues, and then often also using his chorus in the supporting roles.

Evolution of Involved Colleagues

Ms. Gerber-Salins came to work at Bias in 1991, and from time to time as part of her responsibilities, assisted Mr. McElroy in the recording studio with David.  That too has it’s own back-story regarding Ms. Gerber-Salins' choice to become a recording engineer, rather than a gourmet cook.  After graduating from college, she studied recording engineering and was hired by Bias, rather than some other studio.

In about 1993 for personal reasons, Mr. McElroy decided to go do other things in life and started fazing out of Bias.  First he worked with trains in a couple different jobs, but after a couple years, in order to be near his son, he moved near Richmond, Virginia, and returned to recording enginering by establishing a new studio there just north of Richmond, Virginia in the little town of Ashland, Virginia (just south of the King's Dominion theme park in Doswell).  You can find out more about Mr. McElroy's new recording and mastering studio by clicking on SlippedDISCAudio.

First Private Album

About the time Bill decided to phase out of Bias, David had mostly finished his first private recording of Nostalgic Solos. The songs on that album are dominantly from shortly before, during, and after the World War II era.  Ms. Gerber-Salins provided a few final touches of assistance for completing that album. A limited number of privately released cassettes were produced and made available to family and friends.

[The current plan is to revisit the analogue masters David has for that recording, and produce a digitally remastered and remixed version.]

Beginnings of Planned Next Album

When Mr. McElroy left Bias in 1993, Ms. Gerber-Salins became David's recording engineer and co-producer.  Together they continued slowly recording what was envisioned as the next album of largely Romantic Duets, dominantly from the early to mid 1990's, many from films and musicals. 

Over the next 4 years dabbling on that project, Ms. Gerber-Salins’ professional relationship expanded to include her fulfilling roles of co-producer, singing collaborator and very importantly, friend.  Ms. Gerber-Salins played a significant role in helping David record some wonderful draft duet recordings with various others. Ms. Gerber-Salins also facilitated him becoming involved with DC branches of several music organizations where he met others working in the field. 

Logical Evolution or Perhaps Destiny

Following the completion of Nostalgic Solos and the ongoing work on the draft Romantic Duets albums, the story of how Hymns and Songs for Living came into existence is another example of a succession of serendipitous (or was it destined?) events.  The wonderful nuances are another scintillatingly delicious story, and is another critical part of creating TortoiseClimbing™.

While working on the draft of the Romantic Duet project with Ms. Gerber-Salins, David's father died in late 1996.  In spring 1998 David's mother asked him to record an album of his father and mother's favorite, traditional hymns and songs. 

That began a short but critical collaboration with his mother. David and his mother discussed whether the album should be:

The decisions made were:

Their decision to create a quality album for general distribution was crystallizing! David began work on the album with Ms. Gerber-Salins, and every weekend until September met with his mother to review progress and plan next steps.  She was thrilled with the progress being made, but sadly did not live to hear the final recording.

David was trained (inculcated?) in the philosophy of diligently preparing for whatever might be something you would need in your future.  All the things that preceeded seemed to fit into place. They included:

They all helped lay the foundation for undertaking all the pieces associated with this project.

Review of the Big Picture of What Was Required to Become TortoiseClimbing?

In order to successfully make a quality recording of the Hymns and Songs for Life album, write the accompanying book, make them generally available, and establish a web presence about the projects, it was necessary to undertake and accomplish everything done by:

Those were new, somewhat significantly different undertakings from David's previous experiences and training, especially without a mentor.

A whole new dimension of detailed business knowledge about what record labels, publishing houses and website publishers must do either had to be hired or learned to produce an album, book and website for release to the public.  David undertook learning the new skills of what were necessary.

For those interested, here is an illustrative short list of examples of things that must be accomplished within the recording, book publishing and website business models:

Work on the album progressed rapidly from 1998 to 1999.  Work slowed after David’s mother died, and basically went onto hold around 2004.

A related decision was also made around 2002 to expand the CD notes to become a book of detailed history stories for each of the hymns and songs.

Plus, David decided to provide considerably more biograpical information about all those involved as part of the credits. That was more information than would fit on simple notes to accompany a CD. (That was the accepted quality record album medium at that time.)

That meant the two additional parallel projects of writing the book and developing the many content materials for the website were undertaken in addition to making the audio recording.

Life Moves On

After about 10 years at Bias, like Mr. McElroy before her, Ms. Gerber-Salins decided to strike out on her own and start her own business as a recording and production company.  For a summary of archived information about the extensive number of projects Ms. Gerber-Salins was responsible for while she was with Bias, click on this link for Heidi-Gerber-at-Bias. This archived material from around 2001 when Ms. Gerber-Salins left Bias is preserved by TortoiseClimbing for your edification.

In about 2013 Ms. Gerber-Salins' life moved on again from running All Access Audio to being a teaching professor.

The very simpatico working relationships David had with both Mr. McElroy and Ms. Gerber-Salins during those years were wonderful working experiences and fondly remembered.

Tying Up Loose Ends

Then in January of 2019 David became able to devote all his time to tying up these long hanging loose ends. First, he is addressing the complementary three projects under the title of Hymns and Songs for Living that resulted from his mother requesting David to record their favorite hymns and songs. From start to finish this project encompassed many activities. In 2019, a number of loose ends needed to be completed in each of the major groups of activities for this project:

Luckily from a recording perspective, since Ms. Gerber-Salins had moved on to doing other things, Mr. McElroy was again available at his Slipped DISC recording studio in Ashland, Virginia. Thus, in somewhat of a full-circle, David again began worked with Mr. McElroy.

Luckily from an editing perspective, David came in touch with Dr. Nancy L. Graham, who expressed an interest in providing editorial help with the History Stories book.

From a website building perspective, David drew on his Information Systems work background from many years in the past. Those gave him the foundation on which to undertake the learning curve to become personally competent with current internet protocols and languages. That included acquiring a working knowledge of the new HTML5, and David chose PHP as the server-side programming language to learn and use to provide the intelligent interactions with users.

For the recording:

For the Artists' Credits

For the Book of History Stories

Current Status: Hymns and Songs for Living

All three of these complementary sub-projects for the Hymns and Songs for Living overall project are coming together during 2019 and into early 2020.

Other Loose-End Projects

There are two other immediate projects in the pipeline to produce recordings, accompanying publications, and update this website to include details about them. These will be elaborated on later.

K's Petsitting

This too represents somewhat of a serendipitous or otherwise evolution. K was friends with a then neighbor who had relatively recently established a petsitting services company. At one point that neighbor needed assistance with her Petsitting business. At that point K reviewed her situation, which included:

Therefore, K decided to volunteer to help out the neighbor's company in providing such services. That evolved into K providing such services to other friends, acquantiences and then others. Thus, over time that initial volunteering grew into K's ongoing Petsitting services.

Your Thoughts?

After all these, and more, TortoiseClimbing™ has functionally become an independent recording label, publishing house, web content provider, and also providing Petsitting services in central Southern Maryland.  So, were all these logical evolutions, serendipitous happenstances, or destined?