The presentation method I will be using to show my learning on in-depth night is the 90-second stage performance. I think that this is the best way to demonstrate what I’ve learned over the course of this project because hearing the results of learning an instrument is more interesting and shows not just an understanding of the skill but the ability to go along with it. For this performance, I will be playing a small piece of a song that I have focused on and practiced, and have hopefully at least somewhat mastered enough to play it proficiently in front of an audience.
Elements it will capture
At this point, I have learned the chords for multiple songs that I enjoy, and now it is just a matter of choosing one to play. I can pick one of these songs that have chords I already know and I can choose a strumming pattern to use, or I can use the chords I’ve learned so far to compose my own small piece of music to play. I think that either of these options would be great, as choosing a song from my list means there are no extra steps involved and it would be more likely to be recognized by my audience, but writing my own song would allow me to challenge myself and make it more personal. No matter what I pick, however, it will end up showcasing my ability to play different chords and strumming patterns together to create smooth chord changes and music on the guitar.
Although I have not fully decided on a song yet, I have narrowed it down to a few in my current repertoire or a self-written song using chords I already know. If I do choose to arrange my own piece, that will be a very important step in my preparation for in-depth night. It would involve creating chord progressions using what I know, choosing a strumming pattern (or multiple!) and arranging everything in a way that sounds good and that I am happy with. However, if I choose a song I already know or have practiced with, I will most likely only have to focus on learning or choosing the strumming pattern. Then, no matter what I pick, I will practice my chosen song every day until in-depth night so that I can hopefully master it by then. This also means that while I may still play other pieces during practice sessions I have to prioritize and focus on my performance piece.
I have now chosen a song, and I have new information to provide about it, but I also thought that the rest of this post, written before my decision is still valuable.
The song I have chosen has 4 chords, Am, C, D, and Em and there are three sections consisting of two different chord progressions. I will be attempting to play both of these chord progressions and hopefully all three sections. I do not have a set strumming pattern yet, but I may try to choose multiple strumming patterns to assign to each section to make it more interesting.
To prepare for my performance of my chosen song, I will first have to decide on a strumming pattern (or multiple). To do this, I will be referring to my resources and what I’ve already learned to know what kinds of strumming patterns I am able to apply, then I will choose based on how I want the song to sound. Then, once I have chosen my strumming pattern I will practice the song with that pattern every day until in-depth night.
1. What kinds of learning opportunities does the mentor provide to expose you to new learning?
A learning resource that my mentor has suggested is YouTube. As I have been learning from him, especially about different strumming patterns, he has told me that going to YouTube can be useful if I want to know more about these kinds of skills. Videos can be a great tool for watching how to play different strumming patterns, and for getting an idea of what it’s like to play a specific song. My mentor told me that watching others play the songs I’ve learned or I’m interested in learning and playing whether that be covers, tutorials, etc., can be very helpful and can help me get a better feel for the song.
2. What kinds of learning opportunities exist to reinforce new learning?
I am fortunate enough to have a family member who knows how to play the guitar and plays really well, so practicing with him is a great way to strengthen what I already know. Being able to show my dad what I’ve learned and practice those skills with him allows me to think critically about what I’m doing and how I’m doing it. Also, because he has a lot of experience playing, he is able to provide feedback and knowledge, which I discuss more in the next question.
Another great way to reinforce the skills I have learned so far is to teach them to my family members like my mom and/or my sister. Teaching has been said to be one of the best ways to learn anything from a skill to a textbook topic, and for good reason. Teaching serves as a form of review for yourself, while also allowing you a chance to improve yourself because you see how others apply the material based on your teaching. Being able to teach something that you’ve learned also requires you to have a better understanding of the material. Because of this and the fact that we have the resources to do so, teaching what I’ve learned to someone like my mom is extremely helpful for me as I continue to learn new skills.
3. What kinds of opportunities exist that might accelerate learning?
One way that I’ve found helpful in accelerating my learning is by exploring new material on my own. Although I am not necessarily learning or teaching myself any new skills, just exploring songs that I like on a guitar tab app that I have to see how they’re played helps me. A lot of the time they will use chords that I already know and can play, and because they are songs that I enjoy, it’s a more fun way to practice those chords and practice the skills I already have. Also, sometimes they’ll have a new chord that I don’t know or can’t really play, but even that is beneficial because even if I don’t focus on it or try it for very long, just learning it and perhaps trying it once or twice to see if I can play it is teaching me more about playing the guitar.
As I mentioned in the previous question, practicing with my dad can be helpful for strengthening what I already know, but he also sometimes helps accelerate my learning. Because he has more experience, I am able to work with him to see how I can improve the skills I have, and this can even lead to gaining new knowledge from him. By having these sessions with him, I have the opportunity to learn from him, and even if they’re small, getting advice, tips, or short methods from him on how to improve can make a huge difference in my progress and improvement. Because of this, my dad is a very helpful resource when it comes to reinforcing and accelerating my learning.
4. When you get together what do you talk about?
During our meetings, we rarely discuss anything not pertaining to my learning or progress so far in playing the guitar. Part of what we do talk about is checking and discussing how I’ve progressed so far, which we do at the start of each meeting. For this, I show my mentor the skills I have learned previously and he does a quick assessment and provides feedback. Then, based on his assessment, he decides what new material I should learn during the meeting and we begin to work our way through that. For most skills and topics he teaches me three aspects about each. The first is what the skill is and why it’s important to my guitar learning, which usually means where it might come up in the future. The second is how to actually play or apply it, for example, if it’s a chord he’ll teach me how to play it and I’ll play it so he can give feedback on it. Finally, depending on what it is, it’s possible that my mentor will give me a specific way to practice or improve on the skill/material that is most helpful or effective, but this is not always the case. During meetings, my mentor and I talk about what I’ve already learned, new material, and what to do/how to practice until the next meeting.
5. What is going particularly well in your mentoring relationship right now?
Something that is going well with our relationship overall is that we both understand the dynamic and relationship structure we have as a mentor and mentee as well as just how we interact with one another. This mutual understanding makes it much easier to work together and for me to learn from him.
Another good aspect of our relationship right now is our communication, which is always very open and clear. An example of this is that when I have a comment or a question about what I am learning, I make sure to express that to my mentor so that we can discuss it and I can understand anything I don’t better. Another is that if either of us has to reschedule, we are open about that and are not too nervous or afraid to ask to meet at a later date. This open communication has allowed us to work really well with each other because it ensures that we are at least usually on the same page about everything, so we don’t have many hiccups or misunderstandings.
6. What are you learning about one another?
Something that I have learned about my mentor is that he is obviously very passionate about guitar. He has shown that he has put a lot of effort into learning about the instrument and how to play it well, and he even performs regularly, showing just how important playing the guitar is to him and to his life. This dedication is extremely admirable and it seems to have paid off very well for him.
I have also learned that he is a very good leader and teacher. He demonstrates helpful leadership skills and his attitude towards me, his student, especially with me being a beginner has been great. He gives good feedback and positive reinforcement, but he is also able to assess my progress and improvement as we continue to meet. Although I already knew that he used to teach guitar, it has still been interesting to be his mentee and see how he teaches firsthand.
Finally, although I cannot be completely sure how he views me as a mentee, I try to display an attentiveness that shows that I am a curious person. During our meetings, I always give him my full attention and listen as well as I can so that I can glean as much knowledge from each session as possible and hopefully improve more. I always want to learn as much as I can and I hope that this shows through and this is something that he has learned about me.
Something that I have been doing lately that has helped me become more motivated to practice and feel better about my learning and progress has been exploring songs that I like on my own time. Finding songs that I like and playing around with the chords and strumming patterns if they are provided to see if I can play them with the knowledge and skills I already have has been a really fun way to test what I know and prove to myself that learning guitar is a worthwhile endeavour.
I have also learned the F major chord recently, both from the aforementioned exploring and some guidance from my mentor. This is a very common chord that is present in a lot of songs, but it is also a bar chord and is very difficult to play. Because of this, my mentor has shown me an alternative way of playing it that is easier but sounds about the same that I can use until I can work up to the real thing. However, bar chords are a more advanced set of skills on the guitar, which is why I have not been working on my F chord as much and for now it is just knowing it that is part of my progress. (F chord is shown below, with the fourth being the full version and the third being the one I learned as an alternate.)
I also learned a new method for practicing and improving my rhythm while strumming that is very simple but over time will hopefully make a difference. This method is to strum down and up, with each down strum being on a quarter note beat in 4/4 timing and the up strums in between. Also, the best way to do this is by playing along with a metronome, and it helps to switch between two bars of this and two bars of the strumming pattern you want to practice so that you can see how they work together and what you might have to work on to make them match. By using this method, I will become more comfortable with the flow of strumming, and picking up new patterns will become easier and more natural the more I practice this.
Along with the practice method I mentioned above, I also learned a new strumming pattern to work on with it. Because it is difficult to explain in writing, I have included a sound recording of myself playing the pattern using the alternating method I described to hopefully give a better idea of both new skills. The metronome in this recording is set to 95 bpm.
– Learned to use an “anchor finger” when switching chords to help me change faster (pick one finger to switch to that will make switching the rest afterwards easier, faster and more natural because they will know where to go if you practice this way enough)[suggested I do this with my G major chord and my pinky]
Finally, I also learned to use something called an “anchor finger” when switching chords to help me change faster, which is something I have been struggling with, especially for certain chord changes. The basis of this method is to pick one finger of the chord you are going to switch to, possibly one that is the easiest or fastest to switch to, and that is your anchor finger. Then, once you have that finger in place after finishing the previous chord, switching to the rest of the chord afterwards should become faster, easier and more natural because your fingers should just fall into place if you practice this way enough. For me, I have found it difficult to switch to my G major chord fast enough, so I have chosen my pinky as my anchor, and the goal is that by practicing with my pinky placed first and the rest after, my fingers will eventually know where to go by muscle memory as long as my pinky is in the right place.
The following merchandise descriptions were written but did not end up fitting in the brochure, so I have included them here.
Sleer Cave Brooch – $29.99
This beautiful brooch looks exactly like the one Bod finds in the story, with its intricate details and snakestone lookalike. But be careful, because its worth and beauty may attract unwanted strangers who want to steal it for themselves, like a certain pawnshop owner… Proudly wear one of the three treasures from the terrifying Sleer cave when you buy this brooch from one of our gift shops!
Customizable Paperweight Headstone – $19.99 for Liza’s initials, $24.99 for custom initials
Do you love Liza? Have you ever wanted to have a headstone just like hers? Well, now you can! Buy one of our colourful paperweights that match the one Bod stole from the pawnshop for Liza and even customize it! Get your own initials painted on to imagine yourself in the story with Bod and to decorate any important surface. Hopefully not a grave, however!
Hound of God Plushie – $15.99
This plushie is based on Miss Lupescu’s Hound of God form, only this one you can cuddle whenever you want! With a huggable size and soft fur, this plush is a perfect stuffed version of the protective being in the story. Just like Miss Lupescu protects Bod and saves him in Ghulheim, buy one of these plushies for you or your child and we guarantee it will make you feel safer right away!
For this literature circle theme park project, I completed four pieces of writing and two show posters. I wrote the paragraphs for all of the merchandise items, making sure that I included elements of the plot in their description, and I assisted with drafting prices for each. I also wrote the description for the Ghulheim rollercoaster and wrote notes for the graveyard dark ride. Finally, I created the posters for the “Create your own headstone” event and the “Miss Lupescu’s Classroom” show on Canva. I also found the image of The Man Jack that we used and I helped brainstorm ideas for all the aspects of this project. These completed tasks showed that I took on tasks from multiple different parts of the project and worked efficiently to finish them.
1. What has been your most difficult mentoring challenge so far? Why?
The most difficult challenge so far has been technical issues, especially in terms of audio. In my first learning meeting with my mentor, the audio was not working almost whatsoever, and to be able to hear my mentor we had to be on a separate phone call from the video, which made the audio and visual become disjointed. Then, in my most recent meeting, the audio worked except for the fact that I could not hear my mentor’s guitar at all, which made it really difficult to learn the material effectively because I was only relying on visuals, which is not great for learning music. We are working on finding a solution to these issues, but as of now, these issues have hindered me more than they would with other skills because it is an instrument and they have been my main challenge so far.
2. What is working well? Why?
Something that has been working well during this project has been my learning speed. I seem to be picking up the material quite quickly and easily, and I have somewhat of a natural ability when it comes to forming chords. Because I am a fast learner, I have been able to learn lots of new material each meeting and progress at a steady pace, rather than only one new skill each meeting. Another positive aspect of this project is that I have been very motivated to try new pieces and chords on my own. I have really been enjoying learning guitar, and I often look up songs I like and see if they have chords I already know, and I see if I can play them. Having this motivation to do some self-directed exploration has been very good for me, and I hope it continues.
3. What could be working better? How can you make sure this happens?
Something that could be working better is a steadier practice routine instead of the patchy schedule I currently maintain. This way, I would ensure that my finger strength does not decrease and that I remember and can still play everything that I have learned. It would also help me improve faster and more steadily. However, this involves making playing and practicing every day into a habit so that it is a natural impulse. To do this, I plan to set a time and minimum length of practice each day so that I know exactly when and how long I’m supposed to practice and I have less leeway to put it off until later. Hopefully, this will develop into a habit over time and I won’t need to remind myself or put as much conscious effort into remembering anymore.
The skills I have learned so far: (skills marked with “new” are the ones I learned in my most recent meeting)
Parts of a guitar
How the notes of the strings change based on which fret you push on them in
How to tune a guitar
Builds up finger strength
Familiarizes you with the fretboard
Practicing alternate picking (faster and leads to strumming patterns)
Minor pentatonic scale
D minor (new)
E minor (new)
G power chord (new)
This shape can be moved around the fretboard to make different power chords
New chords are shown below:
How to play the first part of Nothing Ever Changes – Acoustic by Nico Collins including chords and strumming pattern (new)
How to play Water Fountain by Alec Benjamin including chords and strumming pattern (new)
Below I’ve included some sound recordings of myself playing the songs I’ve learned. Please be aware of the fact that they’re not perfect so there are some weird little errors here and there but I’m still learning and I hope you enjoy them!
Water Fountain by Alec Benjamin:
Click herefor the original on Spotify and mine is below (instrumental guitar).
My version uses the chords C major, A minor, G major and D major, throughout the whole song with E Minor instead of G at one point. I also have a capo on the first fret.
Nothing Ever Changes – Acoustic by Nico Collins:
Click here for the original on Spotify and mine are below (I have included two because in the second one I changed the strumming pattern slightly to sound more like the original. Let me know which pattern you like better in the comments! Also, the beginning of both may sound a bit funky XD)
The chords in this song are A minor, D minor, E major, and A minor again throughout the whole song, but the strumming pattern changes over the verse, bridge and chorus.
What went particularly well during your mentoring sessions?
The first aspect of the session I had with my mentor that was helpful and positive was the amount and difficulty of the content I learned. One part of this was that the material he has been teaching me was very useful and easy info for a beginner to learn. The exercise I learned for building up speed and finger strength will be very helpful as I progress because it is a fast, easy practice tool that will help me improve quickly. Also, the chords I have learned aren’t super difficult, but they are used in many songs and are very versatile. Also, I haven’t been learning so much material at once that I feel overwhelmed, I still feel comfortable.
Another piece of my mentoring sessions that went well was the encouragement, both to practice and when I did something right or succeeded. Being encouraged to practice the material I have been learning throughout the meetings has been very helpful, especially because it has been positive and geared towards my goal of improvement, rather than nagging or forcing me to practice because I am not doing well. Also, it helped me to feel more motivated to play and practice when I received praise or encouragement because I was doing something right or well, which is something that my mentor did during our sessions.
What logical challenges affected your communication?/What factors affected your ability to interact effectively?
A challenge that my mentor and I had in terms of communication had to do with technology issues. For our meetings, we have been using Zoom, but an error has been occurring that has made it somewhat difficult to communicate and learn a sound-based skill in particular. The issue is that even though I can see him and he can see and hear me in meetings, I can’t hear him, and this meant we had to find a workaround. Our solution to this problem was to remain on the video call, but also use a separate phone call to communicate auditorially, which worked, but created an issue of its own. This use of separate devices for the same meeting caused there to be a delay in the video in comparison to the audio, meaning that whenever one of us would play something on our guitar, the other would hear it, then see it on the screen a few seconds later. While this might not have been a huge problem, because learning guitar relies on sound, it was very awkward to try to interpret what I was meant to do and learn effectively from my mentor when what I could see him doing and what I could hear him playing were different at any moment in time. By this, I mean it was difficult to know where my fingers should be on the fretboard to play what he was playing when the video was so glitchy and out of time. However, we are working on figuring out how to fix the program so that this is hopefully no longer an issue during future meetings.
What three strategies could improve the quality of your mentoring interactions?
I think that one change that I could make that would improve the quality of my meetings with my mentor would be to switch video call platforms. Because of the issues that using Zoom has caused in terms of communicating and learning effectively, I would hope that using a different website or program would solve those issues and allow me to learn without a delay or poor video or audio quality. Some examples of possible alternatives would be Google Meet, Teams, or any other platform that is better quality and that we both have access to. Figuring this out will involve both testing and clear communication with my mentor about what works, but I think that making this switch will greatly benefit our mentorship process and meetings.
Another strategy I would use to improve our meetings and my learning would be to always be prepared before the meeting starts. A very prominent and important example of this would be ensuring that I’ve practiced every day since my last meeting so that I show improvement when we start the session and I’m not at the same level as the previous one. However, aside from this, I think that it would also be helpful for me to write notes for myself before the meeting, and throughout the time between sessions. These notes can include questions for my mentor, topics of discussion that I want to bring up, or anything else that I need to remember for my meeting. Finally, having some way to take notes during the meeting that is easy, fast and convenient for the situation is a great way to better my learning. In terms of preparation, this might mean just grabbing a piece of paper and a pencil and keeping it close by, or setting up a document on my computer. This will help me make sure that I remember the material I learned, and having it set up beforehand will mean I’m not scrambling to do it during the session.
My final strategy, which also relates to my previous one, is to ask my mentor more questions. The way that this relates to my previous strategy is that if I think of questions between sessions, I should write them down, and even if I don’t I should try to write one or two questions in my notes before every meeting to achieve this goal. One way that asking my mentor more questions will benefit me is that I will learn more about guitar, including information that I may not have learned otherwise, and even if it’s not about guitar, I can learn more about my mentor and the experiences he’s had with playing guitar. Also, this reason is even further reinforced by the fact that by asking my own questions, I am making sure that what I’m learning is what I want to know and learn, and could be info that will help or be useful to me specifically moving forward. Because of this, when I am writing my preparatory notes before each meeting, I will make sure that I have included at least one or two relevant, specific and important questions for myself to ask my mentor.
Report on progress:
In my most recent meeting with my mentor, I learned quite a bit of new material. The first new sub-skill that I learned from him was a chromatic exercise. This is an exercise that consists of moving your fingers on and off the strings in different frets, while also plucking the strings up and down alternately. The purpose of this is to familiarize yourself with the fretboard, practice alternate strumming, and build up finger strength and speed.
The second part of the meeting consisted of learning two new chords. These chords were the G Major and the C Major chords, which I’ve attached images of below.
Finally, I also learned the pattern for an intro to a Metallica song called Enter Sandman. (Link will take you to Spotify)
How did your mentor gain their experience/expertise?
One way that my mentor gained his experience in playing guitar was by performing in front of small audiences as part of a band as well as a solo artist. This meant doing local gigs at places like bars and gaining experience as a musician in the field rather than just practicing in an isolated environment. These local performances as part of group and alone allowed for him to not only practice his skills, but learn about what it was like to set up a performance and play in front of an audience.
Another way that my mentor became more of an expert in his field was by teaching others how to play the guitar. After my mentor was no longer in his band, he began teaching people to play guitar for a low cost and gained experience in that aspect of the skill, which is very helpful for me as a mentee and him as my mentor, because he is not new to teaching and mentoring.
Finally, although my mentor no longer teaches guitar or plays in a band, he does still do local performances and gigs 2-4 times per week. This means that his knowledge of both the skill and the public environment is still very fresh and current, which is beneficial for me because I know that his skills and knowledge are practiced and used frequently.
What were those experiences like for your mentor?
Playing in a band was good for my mentor because there was lots of collaborative effort going into their playing, which is something that definitely adds to the experience, but it was also difficult because there are multiple people. This made scheduling harder, in terms of both practicing and gigs they wanted to perform, because trying to find a schedule that worked for everyone was more difficult than finding one for one or two people. It also meant that there were occasional conflicts of ideas.
As for teaching, it was also difficult for scheduling, but it was a very rewarding experience for my mentor. He found that it was nice to see his students progressing and improving in their learning and skills, and he felt a sense of pride in their growth because he taught and guided them in their learning. He found it satisfying to watch the hard work of both himself and his students pay off as they improved. Also, teaching is very commonly expressed as a great way to improve your skills and understanding in a particular area because it not only requires you to have a firm grasp on the content you’re teaching but also allows you to view and learn about it from a different perspective.
As for playing solo gigs, my mentor clearly enjoys them, as they have continued to be a part of his schedule even now, years later, and not as a rare occurrence. They provide him with an opportunity to practice and keep his skills and knowledge fresh, as well as to continue gaining experience.
What wisdom have you gained from your mentor so far?
Something I have learned from my mentor about playing guitar is that some sub-skills and aspects come with practice and experience, meaning they are more naturally developed over time rather than taught. An example of this is how to sit and how to hold the guitar in a comfortable position. Although you can teach recommended positions and give pointers, what my mentor has taught me is that as I continue playing the guitar, over time I will figure out what works and is most comfortable for me. This experiential development shows up in a few of the technicalities of playing guitar as well as in many other skills and these sub-skills will come more naturally over time and cannot be learned fully through instruction alone.
Another piece of wisdom that I have gained from my mentor, related to the previous one, is that improvement is directly tied to and influenced by practice time and effectiveness. Practice is most likely the most important part of improving in playing the guitar, and without it is very unlikely that you will see any signs of growth or improvement. Because of this, if you practice often and you practice what you need to, (what you need to improve not what you are good at), you will get better as you continue, but you will not if you don’t practice. Also, not only will practicing ensure that you are getting better at the sub-skills you have learned, but it will also encourage the experiential growth I addressed previously, as you gain more experience and comfort as you practice and play more.
What have you learned so far, in terms of facilitation strategies, that might contribute to your own development as a mentor?
A facilitation strategy I have learned from working with my mentor is encouraging constant practice in between lessons. Practice is an integral piece in improving any skill, guitar included, and it is nearly impossible to see a change in skill level when there is no practice. This is why making sure that your mentee is practicing the skill they are learning frequently between lessons is important, even if this is just by a friendly reminder or check-in every once in a while. This can help further the mentee’s improvement, as well as show them that you are involved and care about their learning, which is a valued part of any mentor-mentee relationship.
Another strategy that I have noticed is more helpful and beneficial for the mentee is altering the content in each lesson based on their improvement since the previous one. Teaching in small pieces so that they don’t get overwhelmed is also a good tactic for keeping them motivated. Changing what you teach based on how much the mentee has improved since the last lesson means that they are learning what they will most likely be comfortable with at that point, which is best for keeping them motivated and not overwhelmed. This strategy also helps when you have a set lesson schedule because instead of perhaps postponing a lesson because the mentee has not improved enough, you can just teach less during that lesson.
Report on any progress and sub-skills learned so far. Share photos, videos and sound recordings where applicable.
One of the first steps in my learning was to become familiar with the fretboard of a guitar. This meant learning the strings and their notes, as well as how they change based on where I’m holding them down on the fretboard. This turned out to be very similar to how a piano is laid out note-wise, and my previous experience with piano helped me pick this up fairly quickly.
After this, I learned three major chords that are fairly simple and common in songs. These chords were the E, the A, and the D Major chords, which I have added reference pictures for below.
Finally, I have also learned the minor pentatonic shape. Specifically, I have learned how to play the A Minor pentatonic scale, but the same movements or “shape” can be moved around the fretboard to be played in a different minor key. I have just learned where this shape belongs on the fretboard for the key of A Minor. I won’t go into detail about what the minor pentatonic scale is, but you can learn more about it here. My mentor also briefly taught me the major pentatonic shape, but it was a very quick overview and I have not been working with it or practicing it much.
The skill I have chosen to learn for my in-depth project this year is how to play guitar. I have wanted to learn how to play the guitar for a long time now, but have never truly found the motivation to do so until now. The reason that I chose guitar is that I have always been raised in a household that treasures music, both playing and listening to it. My dad has played guitar for a very long time and he owns multiple guitars, so I have always been exposed to this skill, and it has become something that interests me and that I think would be rewarding to learn and know. I think that being able to play songs and melodies on the guitar for myself and others will be an ability that I enjoy and cherish for a very long time and will just be a lot of fun. Also, I think that being able to play will bring me closer to my dad, as it will allow us to play together and bond over our shared knowledge, which is an experience that would be very valuable to me. I am very excited to learn guitar over the course of this project and to hopefully walk away from it with at least a few meaningful skills.
What I am going to learn:
Playing guitar is a very layered and complicated skill to learn, meaning it has many sub-skills to learn, as well as music theory, both guitar-related and overarching. By the end of this project, I hope to be able to pick a song, find and read its guitar tablature, and play what I read on a guitar. Very simple, this will include knowing how to read tablature, how to form and play an array of minor and major chords and how to play multiple different strumming patterns. But beyond that, I will also learn about the fretboard of a guitar and how it relates to music theory, how to tune a guitar, arpeggios, and scale shapes. I also hope to improve enough throughout this project that I will be able to learn more advanced techniques like fingerpicking, hammer-ons, and some 7 chords (type not the number). But aside from tangible skills, it is also very important that I learn music theory as I progress, as it is the reasoning behind the music and the baseline that I will use to understand what I am learning better. These will all be part of my journey of learning how to play the guitar and I think it will be very fun and interesting to see how all of this comes together and applies to my playing.
The man that has agreed to mentor me for this project is very knowledgeable in the subject of guitar, having played guitar for forty years and taught guitar for ten of those. He also graduated from the Musicians Institute of Technology. He still plays actively in his field and plays local guitar gigs, which shows that his knowledge on the subject is still very fresh and he even understands at least the more local music performing environment. I was fortunate enough to get his contact info from my parents, as he is an old friend of theirs. This meant that I was able to get more experience connecting and reaching out to someone new for help, but I also didn’t have the largest struggle finding a mentor other than the minor difficulties of miscommunication and late responses from time to time. He has many years of current experience as well as formal training, and I am very excited to be learning from him about how to play the guitar.
“Developing the Leaders Around You” by John C. Maxwell
My first concept is that leaders have two characteristics, these being that leaders are going somewhere and that they are able to persuade others to go with them. The first characteristic means that leaders have dreams and places they want to be, as well as goals to help them reach those places. The second means that leaders have the ability to “sell” their dreams to others and convince them that they should try to get there as well and help each other work towards those goals. This concept is important to me because I want to be able to think about and know where I want to go and what I want to achieve, as well as how I can get there. I also want to learn how to motivate others around me to work towards common goals, since not only is motivation an important tool to have, uniting a group strengthens its connections. This concept can apply to TALONS because when we are planning events or trips, all group members must have the same end goal that they work towards so that everyone is on the same page. If someone does have an idea for how to make the project better, they have to be able to share it clearly and in a way that convinces the group to add it to the final vision. Knowing what one wants in life or a specific situation and how to achieve that, as well as the ability to convince people to aid in your journey, are important skills to have to be successful, especially in TALONS, when we all have to work together.
The second concept I chose is “it is easier to teach what is right than to do what is right” (Maxwell & Giant Impact, 2014, 15), which means that only saying or explaining a concept is much easier than applying that concept to your own life and following it, which is fairly difficult. However, you can’t expect anyone you are teaching to listen and follow what you say when you don’t even follow it yourself. This concept is important to me because I want to become more aware of how well I am meeting the standards I set for others so I can be an effective leader and role model. Being aware of this will help me either learn to follow all the standards I set or adjust my standards to be what I can meet or am already meeting. This is a very important concept in TALONS because the grade tens have to teach and set a good example for the grade nines. When planning events and trips, instead of assigning tasks to the grade nines, we have to demonstrate how to do the tasks, and guide them through the process. We also have to ensure that we are doing our own tasks and participating in the planning alongside them to show that we apply the lessons to our own lives. Applying the lessons one teaches to others to their own life is a difficult but valuable demonstration of leadership, because it shows that they understand and believe in the content they are teaching, and in TALONS, it is important for being valuable role models.
The third concept I chose is shared in the book as “self-disclosure, the willingness to share parts of one’s own journey when appropriate and the willingness to be honest” (Maxwell & Giant Impact, 2014, 21), and is very important for the growth of everyone in TALONS. This concept means that when a mentor shares information about themselves, their mentee will feel more comfortable sharing, and this process encourages open communication. I chose this concept because I understand that it is important for mentees to feel comfortable since I have felt hesitant to share before and know how hard it can be. When I was struggling with this last year, I always found it very helpful when a grade ten would share an experience in which they struggled because it made me feel better about my journey and it let me know that I could look to that person for help. This concept is helpful for leadership specifically because the grade tens can share past mistakes with the grade nines so that they can learn from them and improve for this year, and if the grade nines feel comfortable sharing with the grade tens, they will be able to ask for help when they are struggling. Finally, this concept encourages open and honest communication between two parties, and communication and sharing of experiences are essential for building a community within TALONS, which is a very important part of leadership and this program. Self-disclosure strengthens connections and maintains comfort with sharing, which ties in with many of the fundamental goals of TALONS.
Maxwell, J. C., & Giant Impact. (2014). Developing the Leaders Around You. Giant Impact.
During my interview, I started to feel a lot more comfortable interviewing someone and afterwards the feedback I got was very helpful. Usually, I feel very nervous or uncomfortable when interviewing someone because my anxiety kicks in and it ends up being fairly awkward, with me feeling very unsure. However, during these practice interviews, I felt very confident with my answers and I thought that I created a good environment for my partner when asking my questions. This practice was helpful because now I am aware of the skills I have and those I need to work on, and I have gained a better idea of what interviewing someone is like.
I think some of my strengths during these interviews was my clarity and my eye contact. Throughout both interviews, I made sure to maintain constant eye contact so that I was always focused on my partner and what they were saying, and I was always nodding or agreeing with points my partner was making to show that I was listening. I also had a very clear voice during the interviews, keeping it at a steady volume that was acceptable in the environment we were in. I kept most hesitation out of my speech and I spoke with confidence in my answers and questions. I think these are good things for me to be able to do because it makes me seem confident and like
I know what I am doing, which adds to the quality of my interview.
Next are some of my stretches. One of the points that the person overviewing my interview gave me to work on was going deeper with my questions. I believe this is in reference to how I could ask more follow-up questions so that I can receive a more thorough and in-depth answer from my interviewee. I think this is a good point for me to work on because for the most part I just stay on the surface and I am satisfied with simple answers. Instead, I should try to get more details in their answers so that I can learn more from the experience. I can start to do this by just asking more follow-up questions, and as I get better at that, I can start to improve them and make them even more helpful and insightful.
Another thing that I have set for myself to improve on is my improvisation. This actually ties in with my previous stretch, as working on my improv will make it easier to ask follow-up questions. I need to work on this because as of now I mainly stick to questions I have prepared, but limiting myself to this means that I don’t always get all the details or insight that I need. I would like to get better at going off-script and going with the flow when I can, asking questions that fill in any gaps in my information. This will help me be more comfortable in the interview since I won’t need my questions at all times, and it will help me get better at asking follow-up questions, another one of my stretches. My goal for this is to start by asking a couple questions in my interviews that I had not pre-planned, and once I am comfortable with that I can start doing it more often and more naturally.
Overall, I believe that what I am taking away from this experience is really going to help me in my future interviews, because I know what I’m good at and that can give me confidence, and I know what I need to improve on. This will help me know what to practice and I can become a better interviewer with this knowledge.