Walter Bitner


Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Meditation 101

Meditation has been a big part of my life for my entire adulthood, like a personal mountain I have been climbing a step at a time, nearly every day, for forty years.


Hooteroll? & The Forest Play The 5 Spot This Saturday!

Saturday, April 9, 2022 at 6 pm
The 5 Spot, 1006 Forrest Avenue, Nashville 37206

I’m back in Nashville this week – we attended a beautiful wedding yesterday, and this week will be filled with family, friends, and rehearsals for another highlight of my year: The Forest joins Hooteroll? once again for a Saturday night performance at East Nashville’s iconic venue The 5 Spot. (more…)

My Hat

James River, Midlothian, Virginia, March 16, 2022 ~ click images to enlarge

This is my hat. If you know me personally, you probably recognize it: this has been my winter hat for about 35 years now. I bought it from a boutique in Asheville, North Carolina around 1987, give or take a year. My wife has one too, which we bought in the same store at the same time. Hers is white, mine is black. They are both made of wool, although her hat is softer than mine.

It is incredibly warm, and it fits my (big) head very comfortably, which is why I have never wanted, or worn, a different winter hat.


One a Penny, Two a Penny, Hot Cross Buns


Now I know what you’re thinking. It’s not that Hot Cross Buns. It’s not the Hot Cross Buns that you thought we had gotten past by now, those four measures of ignominy that haunt the deepest recesses of your early instrumental music education memories. It’s not that inane ditty that you practiced, repeating those three notes over and over, tormenting your parents and your siblings until finally, after what seemed like a very long time but probably was not very long at all, it was burned into your memory, burned into the memory of your fingers, those three notes:

B, A, G
B, A, G
B, A, G.

No, it’s not that Hot Cross Buns. It’s a different one.


A Snow Day on Tolkien’s Birthday



“In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.”

It has been about 46 years since I first read those initial ten words. Tolkien was still a figure of the “literary underground” in 1976 – none of my friends or classmates knew of him – and I was only ten years old.

Tolkien’s name is now a household word, The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings now appear near the top of every all-time bestsellers list of books in English, and Peter Jackson’s film franchise based on the books is one of the highest-grossing in history.

The books are still the same today as they were when I first read them, but I am not.


Hooteroll? & The Forest Ride Again

Saturday, November 13, 2021 at 6 pm
The 5 Spot, 1006 Forrest Avenue, Nashville 37206
$10 / COVID restrictions apply


click images to enlarge

Although the upheavals of the last two years have brought many difficulties and challenges to my life, as they have to everyone else’s, there have also been some silver linings. Any major dude will tell you.

This is the story of a silver lining.

The Forest, our band formed initially in 2018 to perform Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon, reunites for a double bill with Hooteroll? at Nashville’s The 5 Spot on November 13, 2021. This will be the first time I’ve performed with The Forest since we performed with Hooteroll? at The 5 Spot on July 20, 2019, on the 50th anniversary of Neil Armstrong’s moonwalk. (more…)

The Acorn Harvest


Our house stands in the midst of a small grove of mature oak trees. A family of white oaks and a family of willow oaks intermingle: more than a dozen of these giants share the little suburban forest on our property with many smaller post oak, holly, cedar, sweetgum, tupelo, maple, crepe myrtle, dogwood, and pine trees. Squirrels and songbirds, rabbits and deer frolic about under them. I’ve also seen a raccoon, chipmunks, and signs of moles underground. Owls and crows are regular visitors and there is a giant hawk’s nest in one of the white oaks in the front yard – she can be heard screaming there from time to time, terrorizing the smaller birds.


Warm Up On Canons

Chances are good that if you’re a choral director, you already have a choice selection of canons in your bag of tricks, ready to be brought out at a moment’s notice to fill out the last few minutes of a rehearsal, or to keep the students from getting too restless and rowdy on a long bus ride – or simply because “we haven’t sung this one in a while”.


The Sleeping Monk, Henry Stacy Marks (1829–1898) ~ Russell-Cotes Art Gallery & Museum, Bournemouth, UK


Fall 2021 Update

Dear Friends,

at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts exhibition The Dirty South, August 4, 2021

It’s been some time since I posted an article to Off The Podium – exactly ten months today, the longest break since I began publishing my writing here in March 2015.


The Blue Bird

Sir Charles Villiers Stanford, 1921

Although he is little recognized today, the English composer Sir Charles Villiers Stanford (1852 – 1924) was one of the most prominent musicians in the English-speaking world at the end of the 19th and early 20th centuries, and he had considerable influence on the work of many composers and musicians whose work is better known.


Follow Walter Bitner on