About Tortoise Climbing

Perspective

Depending on your philosophy of how, or why things happen, you might think of the creation (or coming into existence) and evolution of TortoiseClimbing™ as:


Here's insights into how it happened. You be the judge.

Background

Singing was the major catalyst.

David began singing in elementary school choruses.  Remember when public schools included music education in elementary, then junior (now reorganized as middle) and high schools? Following that he took voice lessons in college and privately afterward. He continued singing in choruses and doing solos through college, and afterward. 

After college David participated in various singing activities, including:


Beginning in approximately 1990, based on a desire to create something more lasting than performances, David started investigating possibilities for recording. Then a personal friend asked David to record some duets with him.  That friend recorded at Bias Recording Studio mostly with partner Mr. Bob Dawson, but occassionally with partner Mr. Bill McElroy. Thus, David began working there with his friend.

Turned out most of David's duet parts were recorded with Mr. Bill McElroy. (Bill was one of two partners who established Bias. For details on Bill McElroy see Bill McElroy.) The relative geographic convienience of Bias' studio to where David lived didn't hurt.

The Beginning of TortoiseClimbing

David then created his first simple album, Nostalgic Solos with Mr. Bill McElroy as the lead audio engineer. Accompaniments on that album are dominantly piano, with a few Karaoke accompaniment tracks. Songs on that album are ballads, dominantly from shortly before, during, and after the World War II era. As part of recording the Nostalgic Solos album David undertook creation of the beginnings of TortoiseClimbing.

Just as David was completing Nostalgic Solos, his then engineer, Mr. Bill McElroy, for personal reasons made the decision to phase out of Bias. His assistant who had helped on Nostolgic Solos, Ms. Gerber-Salins, became David's recording engineer and provided the few final touches of support to complete that album. (More on both of them below.)

TortoiseClimbing had a limited number of cassettes of Nostalgic Solos made for private release to family and friends.

Current plans include converting the analogue master tapes David has from that initial project to digital and creating a remixed and remastered digital version of that recording for general release.


Evolution of Involved Colleagues:

Bill McElroy

As noted above, when David recorded Nostalgic Solos, Mr. McElroy was David's recording engineer, assisted by Ms. Gerber-Salins. Bill has a knack for being supportive and helpful to his clients, and getting them comfortable recording in his studio.

Small World


One of Mr. McElroy's experiences in the recording industry gives an insight into how incredibly small portions of our world can be.

Prior to Mr. McElroy and his partner starting Bias in 1973, Bill worked as a recording engineer for Ed (I've seen references to him as David) Greene at Edgewood Recording Studio in Northwest Washington, DC. (Initially at 1129 Vermont Avenue NW near Thomas Circle, then moved to 1627 K St., NW).  Edgewood was the recording studio where David’s college choir director, Mr. Fague K. Springmann (1933 - 1983) recorded. He had a magnificent bass-baritone operatic voice "to die for."

Mr. Springmann was instrumental in facilitating a number of wonderful choral experiences in David's college life. Those occurred because Mr. Springmann's magnificant, operatic bass-baritone voice was sought after as a solo artist for very well-known classical compositions that also needed a chorus. Mr. Springmann successfully suggested his chorus be used as the supporting chorus for such productions.


He recorded LPs at Edgewood  before and during David's college years when David sang in Mr. Springmann’s choir. In the mid-1960's David had an opportunity to accompany Mr. Springmann to an editing session at Edgewood. Since that was before multitrack master tapes became common in the late 1960's, editing meant using a razor blade to cut the tape and take out the unwanted recording take, and splice in the desired recording take. 


Edgewood was co-founded by Mr. Ed Greene, who was drafted in 1956 and served as a recording engineer for the U.S. Army Band and Chorus in Washington, D.C. Then for some years after his discharge he remained in DC before going back to New York and later to Toronto, Canada.


After the army, while still in Washington, DC he co-founded Edgewood Studios in about 1958 with radio and television commentator Charles Osgood and composer George Wilkins. George later went to work for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts where he created scores and songs as Director of Music for Walt Disney Imagineering. Ed went back to New York in about 1970 as chief engineer for MGM Records. Then in the early 1970's he was brought into television audio mixing by Frank Sinatra, and became a very successful (22-time Emmy-winning and 61 nominations) audio mixer for television production and post production. He died in 2017 at age 82.



As mentioned above, in about 1993 for personal reasons, Mr. McElroy decided to go do other things in life and started fazing out of Bias.

First he followed a dream to work with trains in a couple different jobs. But after a couple years, in order to be near his son, he moved to Richmond, Virginia, and returned to working in a portion of the recording industry by establishing a mastering studio in Scott's Addition, VA (a neighborhood in Richmond). Then in 2001 he established SlippedDISC studio in the little town of Ashland, Virginia. It is just north of Richmond, Virginia, and just south of the King's Dominion theme park at Doswell.

David is fortunate to again be working with Mr. McElroy at his new studio, SlippedDISC.  For more information about Mr. McElroy's new recording and mastering studio, click on SlippedDISCAudio.

Ms. Gerber-Salins'


The next significant influence on David's recordings and TortoiseClimbing's evolution was Ms. Heidi Gerber-Salins. She came to work at Bias in 1991, and Mr. McElroy was her chief mentor. In that role, she occassionally assisted Mr. McElroy in David's recording sessions as part of her responsibilities.

That too has it’s own back-story regarding Ms. Gerber-Salins' choice after college at that time to pursue becoming a recording engineer, rather than a gourmet cook.  After graduating from college, she studied recording engineering at Omega Studios' School of Applied Recording Arts & Sciences and was hired by Bias.


With Mr. McElroy's departure from Bias in 1993, Ms. Gerber-Salins became David's recording engineer. She assisted with final touches to complete Nostolgic Solos.

Then as David's engineer they slowly worked on 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. The accompaniments are dominantly Karaoke sound tracks.

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 artists.

She also facilitated David becoming involved with DC branches of several music organizations where he met others working in the field. 

Evolution in What Is TortoiseClimbing

During work on the draft Romantic Duets album, David's father died in late 1996. In spring 1998 David's mother asked him to record an album of his father's and her favorite, traditional hymns and songs. David and his mother collaborated on selecting which hymns and songs to include.

They also collaborate on deciding what she wanted the album to be. The obvious choices were:

Her preference was the latter, which redefined TortoiseClimbing's future. Namely, she preferred:

  1. The album should be a quality produced recording; and

  2. Should be made generally available.

That clearly was a significant redirection from TortoiseClimbing's initial undertakings, requiring plotting a new course.


Work on Romantic Duets was put on indefinite hold to enable totally focusing on the Hymns and Songs for Living album. Ms. Gerber-Salins became Producer and a significant duet vocal talent, for what wound up being Phase I of the audio portion of the project.

TortoiseClimbing was required to take on multiple new roles encompassing dramatically more events than before. Was it serendipitous (or was it destined?)

It is a scintillatingly delicious story, and a critical part of the evolution of TortoiseClimbing™.


Phase I of Audio Recording and Companion Book

Work on recording Hymns and Songs for Living progressed rapidly from 1998 to 1999. Working from the list of hymns and songs David and his mother selected for the album as representive of their favorites, every weekend until she died in August of 1998, David took copies of the latest draft recordings for his mother and her care givers to review progress on the recording. She was thrilled with the progress being made, but sadly only got to hear those rough drafts.

A related decision made perhaps a year after mother died, around 1999, was to greatly expand the initially conceived companion notes for the recording. That evolved into the extensive book, History Through 26 Hymns and Songs. It tells the histories surrounding each of the hymns and songs that shaped what they are. It also includes an appendix that summarizes the sweep of history from Christ's death until the past century that influenced development of congregational hymn singing. Lots of footnotes and index cross references are included.

Recording work slowed after David’s mother died, and basically went onto hold around 2004 because of other life demands in both his and his Producer's lives. That essentially was the end of Phase I for the audio recording.

In 2001 after 10 years at Bias, Ms. Gerber-Salins had left Bias.

To see a summary of the archived information for the extensive list of projects Ms. Gerber-Salins was responsible for as a recording engineer and producer while with Bias, click on this link for Heidi-Gerber-at-Bias. This archived material is from around 2001 when Ms. Gerber-Salins left Bias (and when Bill McElroy established Slipped DISC.) This archived information is preserved by TortoiseClimbing for your edification.)


Unlike Mr. McElroy, who initially followed his dream of working with trains before he wound up back with a mastering studio and then a new recording studio, Ms. Gerber-Salins directly struck out on her own and started her speciality recording and production company, All-Access-Audio. First based in Reston, VA, and then in far northern Silver Spring, MD.

Even though Phase I audio work ended about 2004, it was clear the very solid work accomplished still required additional work to achieved the envisioned quality level that had been set for the recording. There were more things needing attention to fully achieve mother's preference for this recording of hymns and songs from their favorites.

Fortunately, in planning for the future that what would be Phase II of the audio recording, David and Ms. Gerber-Salins continued occassionally meeting to collaborate regaring developing notes/plans for how the Phase I draft of Hymns and Songs for Living sould be improved.

Then, in about 2013, after completing her Masters in Communications from Johns Hopkins University, Ms. Gerber-Salins' life again evolved from running All-Access-Audio to becoming a full-time University teaching professor:


When she became a full-time professor, that was essentially the end of her having discressionary time, and was the end of their collaboration period planning future work to complete the Hymns and Songs for Living recording.

Expansion of TortoiseClimbing Capabilities

The decisions that Hymns and Songs for Living should be a quality recording, and should also be made generally available, meant it became necessary for TortoiseClimbing to undertake and accomplish everything done by:


At a high level those new roles for TortoiseClimbing included:

Many of these were significantly new roles from the initial simple concept from which TortoiseClimbing began, and involved numerous new skills. Since there was no supporting organization, mentor, and no budget to hire persons to perform the new roles with detailed business knowledge that record labels, book publishers, and technical programers and website publishers provide, David undertook learning how to perform those roles. Fortunatley David had a strong foundational base of knowledge and skills that assisted in him processes of learning and building necesary new skills.

Help from Previous Life Experiences

David was trained (inculcated?) with the philosophy of diligently preparing for your future.  Surprisingly, many of the things that preceeded in his life, seem to compliment this new endevor. They included:


All helped lay foundations for learning many of the new roles TortoiseClimbing needed to undertake.

Phase II: Completing Audio and All other Aspects of the Hymns and Songs Project

In 2019 David became able to turn his full attention to this project and undertook what is the Phase II of the audio recording, completing contents of the companion book, and building the supporting interactive website. The goal is to complete all remaining aspects of the Hymns and Songs project and make the recording and book available to the public.

Uncompleted loose ends for Hymns and Songs include:


In greater detail those consisted of the parallel activities of:


Where Are We Now?

Recording

When Ms. Gerber-Salins became a full-time teaching professor, she no longer had sufficient availibility for All Access Audio. Luckily Mr. McElroy was again available at his new Slipped DISC  recording studio in Ashland, Virginia. (Slightly longer drive, but substantially less traffic than around Washington, DC. Plus, there are greatly enhanced capabilities to exchange materials electronically for collaborating at a distance.) Thus, in somewhat of a full-circle experience, David again began working with Mr. McElroy.

Book

As part of David's research for the History Through 26 Hymns and Songs he came across Dr. Nancy L. Graham. She commented the presentation style should be standardized to a style manual, such as one commonly applied in academic publications. David selected the Chicago style manual, and revised book formatting to conform.

Mr. David Mather was luckily available to provide copy editing comments to acheive greater internal standardization throughout the book. (David previously worked with Mr. Mather when he served as chief editor for publication of research reports for projects David managed at the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.)


Website

When David built the initial static website in 2004, HTML3 was the dominant protocol, CSS was only in its infantile stages and not widely implemented by browsers. He did not use any client or server-side programming. That meant for developing a rebuilt interactive website he had to acquire a working knowledge of:

For website credits of the artists who have participated, David was lucky to find bio information for most of the artists who were involved years prior in creating the phase I recordings. That was because a number of the artists are still involved in aspacts of the music business in some way, and thus they or their employer placed information about them on the internet. From those sources, and those artists which David succeeded in contacting, he pieced together information about most, and most reviewed and commented on their summaries. (For the few not yet contacted, placeholder pages are included. That is for: one artist from phase I and a couple from phase II for whom information is still being pursued.)


In Summary

All the pieces for the Hymns and Songs project are coming together in 2021 for the:


The methods for publishing the recording and book are being researched.

Tribute

David continues to have very simpatico working relationships with both Mr. McElroy and Ms. Gerber-Salins. They were and are:


K's Pet Care

This too represents somewhat of a serendipitous or otherwise evolution. K was friends with a then neighbor who had relatively recently established a Pet Care services company. At one point that neighbor needed assistance with her Pet Care business, which caused K to review her situation. Namely, she:


Therefore, K volunteered to help out the neighbor's company in providing such services. That evolved into K establishing a service to assist her friend and other friends, acquantiences and then others. As part of this service, K has acquired a variety of additional specialized training and skills in providing care for animals needing special assistance.

Thus, over time that initial volunteering to help has grown into what is now K's ongoing Pet Care services, which now includes David assisting.

Other Loose-Ends for Future Projects

There are three other envisioned projects for producing recordings (four if you include the planned audio book), presumably with less ambitious companion publications. Each of those projects will require expansions of this website to include details about those projects as they progress. The plan is to add elaborations to the website as those projects unfold. They include two earlier projects, and two contemplated new projects:


Your Thoughts?

After all these, and more, TortoiseClimbing has functionally evolved into an independent:

What might be next?

So, were all these logical evolutions, serendipitous happenstances, or destined, or maybe some combinations?

What do you think?

APPENDIX: What Had to Be Accomplished to Achieve the New Direction?

For those interested, here is a more detailed illustrative list of things that must be accomplished within the business models for producing recordings; book publishing; and interactive website, including:


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