Saturday, November 25, 2017

Not today

Just me and my shadow.  A sunny blue sky, air temps in the low 60s and not another skater in sight.  But, sadly, the puddles of standing water said "not today bucko".  We went to the open air rink at Quiet Waters park this afternoon full of hope and the promise of "California" skating conditions only to discover that while skating had been in full swing that morning, the warmng temps caused a mid-day suspension of activities.  We went for a walk on the park's woodland paths instead.  I think the rink did reopen around 5 pm but we had other promises to keep. The season is young.  Next time.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Testing Times Ahead

So, before heading off to my lesson yesterday evening, I paused to check my club's website.  Earlier rumors suggested that there might be a test session in early December but that had not been confirmed.  My pause was rewarded; the word "confirmed" had replaced "tentative", so I printed out the registration form and brought it along to the rink.

Coach A. and I have been focusing on the Cha-Cha as well as ironing out my wonky right forward inside Mohawk for for the better part of a year now.  I'd really like to get the Cha-Cha tested and in my rear view mirror so we can (hopefully) make progress on that Mohawk and thus move on to getting the other two pre-bronze dances test worthy by--maybe by this time next year?  Yes, yes, compared to over achieving young skaters my goals are rather modest--stay injury-free and occasionally pass a test every now and then.

With that in mind and with a submission deadline of this coming Friday looming, we devoted most of last night's lesson to the dance in question and used the last five minutes or so on the Mohawk. 

Bottom line: Coach A. told me it's time to put the dance out there and see what the judges think.  We spent a lot of time last night working on extension, toe pointing, keeping feet tidy, etc.  You know, picky, judgy things.  In the absence of a total brain freeze I know the actual steps required and can produce the tricky bits--the cross in front/tuck behind/inside swing roll which forms the end pattern.

After the session ended we filled out the form and ticked the box that indicated the "masters" track--I have no sense of shame; at my age I'll take all the leniency that I can get!  This morning I wrote the check and dropped the envelope in the mail.  The test date is the 8th of December.  Pass or Re-try?  Stay tuned.

As for that Mohawk, it is getting more controlled, but it comes and goes as it pleases so I'm a long way from claiming ownership.  It'll get there.  In the meantime, have a great Turkey Day, or Chicken Day, or Rock Fish Day, or (fill in the blank with your favorite celebratory meal) Day and give thanks that you're not yet too crotchety to skate another day!

Thursday, November 2, 2017

I got the beat...

Apologies in advance to the Go-Go's.  What I've really got is a new toy:  a Korg model IE-1M in-ear metronome.  I'm not all that musical so I'm hoping that this little gizmo will plant a sense of timing within my thick head.

It comes nested in it's own little box.  The unoccupied slot in the foam on the right hand side is for the button battery.  Yes, the battery is included.  This photograph was exposed after I'd taken it out and futzed with it a bit.

This pix shows the overall appearance of the gizmo.  The grey round wheel looking part allows for adjustments which I'll touch upon later.

The hardest part was getting the black stretchy speaker cover in place.  My fingers were too clumsy.  Had to get my wife involved.  In the middle one can see two small push buttons.  The closest one is the on/off switch.  The other button is a mode button which allows one to toggle through the various settings for the IE-1M, which include beats per minute (adjustable from 30 to 252 in steps of  one beat), beats per measure (from 0 to 9), rhythm (quarter notes are the default) and loudness (either low or high).  In this pix I have the ear clip in the open position.

Here, the ear clip is closed.  The round speaker can swivel through a limited arc to accommodate different shaped ears.
In this pix I've used the mode button to toggle to the beats per minute position, and then used the grey"jog switch" (the wheel shaped part that lives between the black and white halves of the metronome) to set the bpm to 108.  Perfect for the Swing Dance and Fiesta Tango.
In this pix I've moved on and adjusted the beats per measure to 4.  Again, the Swing Dance and Fiesta are 4 beat dances.

If one is practicing a 6 beat dance such as a waltz, the adjustment is easily accomplished.

This shows the rhythm set for 1/4 notes.  There are other rhythms available but I'm not musical enough to sort through that yet.

Finally, here's a pix showing the loudness adjusted to the highest of the two settings available.  I have not tried the metronome out yet during a skating session, but I suspect if a trumpet player can blow a horn and still hear the beats with this gizmo in an ear then it should work for ice dancers as well.
Those interested can read more here:

The little gizmo even retains its settings after being switched off rather than going back to some default collection.  Bonus!

I ordered mine from Musician's Friend.  Prices vary quite a lot and also note that Korg makes other in ear metronomes for other uses.  The IE-1M is the cheapest of the range.

Will it help keep me on time?  Will it stay on my ear while skating?  Will the itty-bitty buttons drive me crazy?  Don't know yet--stay tuned. In the meantime, enjoy today's earworm!