Compression! – Blog Post #3

Just this past Sunday was our third in-depth meeting and the first meeting of February. This week, Anja taught me the other half of the two very important tools in music editing, compression! Last week we talked about EQ, which is a tool used to adjust and level out the frequencies of an audio clip by moving around different bands and adjusting all these other knobs. Compression is somewhat similar and is a tool used to adjust and squish down dynamics.

The point of compression is to bring down the super-high volumes and bring out the quieter volumes in a track, so the overall volume is fairly level. There are a bunch of different knobs you can adjust in compression, including Knee, Attack, Gain, Ratio, Release, and Thresh. Anja went over the function of all these different settings and explained how to use them. She also taught me how to read the numbers on the different bars and gave me suggestions on what settings to have for different audio tracks.

During this meeting, Anja was constantly checking in to make sure I understood the concepts because compression can be pretty confusing to understand at first. Though I was a little bit unsure at first, I made sure to ask questions and try out compression on my own to get a thorough understanding of it. Anja explained the idea very clear and simple and used a lot of comparisons and even a very beautiful drawing to demonstrate compression to me. She says that EQ and Compression are like the bread and butter of music editing, and if you were to do anything with your song, EQ and Compression are a must.

Even though these concepts are very important to learn and understand, we both agreed that they are also the most boring to learn about. The process of using these tools is just a bunch of knob adjustments and fancy lingo, and it doesn’t even make a huge difference when you listen to it. However, Anja assured me that even though you can’t hear much of a difference, the point is to even out the audio tracks so that when you stack them together it blends nicely. Despite the importance of EQ and compression, Anja and I talked about the plan for our next meeting and agreed that we wanted to take a break from technical lessons and talk more about songwriting and the creative aspect of producing music. Anja said she would try and work out a structure for our next meeting, as it will be more of a discussion rather than a lecture or lesson.

A few days after our meeting, I tried to record a short snippet of a song in pro tools using the skills I have learned so far. I set up all my equipment and tried to record, but no sound was coming from my headphones. No matter what I did, adjusted, googled, or recorded, I couldn’t get any sound to play from my headset. I texted Anja about this and she replied really quickly and immediately helped me out with the situation. She ran through a bunch of possibilities that could be causing the issue, but none of them applied to me. In the end, she just told me to try restarting my computer, as Pro Tools can often be pretty glitchy. I tried this, and low and behold, it worked. I was a bit embarrassed that I bothered her with my problem when the solution was so simple, but Anja was very understanding and helpful. I was able to record my first recording in the program, used EQ and Compression to adjust it, and posted it on my Instagram story to share with others. Three meetings in and I’ve already learned so much! I can’t wait to get deeper into music production, and I’m excited for our next meeting on songwriting!

Anja’s amazing drawing

A Bump In The Road – Blog Post #2

Already time for the next blog post? Two meetings have already gone by, and a lot has happened in between. To start with, the first meeting was a huge success! Anja and I started off by talking about the general plan for the next few months, what skills I would be learning, and what I hope to accomplish by the end. I already knew Anja before she accepted the mentorship, but right away I could tell that I would have tons of fun with this project. Anja has a sweet, understanding, and patient personality, and explains information in a really clear way. After a brief introduction, we got right into the basics of music production. Anja had dropped off a bunch of equipment for me to borrow (which was really kind of her!) and showed me how to navigate it all. The equipment included a condenser microphone and mic stand, a pop filter, her old audio interface, and a bunch of chords to connect everything. After explaining the functions behind all the knobs and buttons on all the equipment, she began to share her screen and navigate the basics of Pro Tools First! Anja explained a lot of music terminology and how to apply it to the software and gave me a tour of many of the different buttons and settings to begin using the program. Throughout the entire call I made sure to take notes and ask questions when I was confused. However, there was little need to ask questions since she explained everything so well! By the end of the meeting, I was fully prepared to begin setting up my equipment with the program on my own. However, this is when things began to go downhill. Shortly after the call, I wanted to hook up the interface to Pro Tools First on my computer. However, the drop-down box where I was supposed to set up the interface wasn’t there. I did a lot of research online to try and figure out how to fix this issue, but only found over-complicated and unclear Reddit posts. I texted Anja about my situation and posted about my problem online in hopes of finding someone who could help me. A few days later, Anja sends me a message explaining that she spoke to her professor, and he said that the reason I wasn’t able to hook up the interface was that the interface was too old. Anja was very apologetic about this, but I assured her it was no big deal. The only solution would be for me to get a new interface, which I was more than happy to do. This would mean I could have my own interface to keep and use for a long time in the future. I spoke to my parents about buying an interface, spoke to Anja about which model to get, and before long I had an interface of my very own. I tried setting up my equipment again, and low and behold, at all worked perfectly! This was just in time for our second meeting, where Anja gave me an in-depth lesson on sample rate and bit-depth. I also learned about EQ, and how to use it as a tool to make audio sound nice and clear. After this meeting, I was able to practice what I had learned on my own with ease.

In terms of the lessons in the book, “How To Have a Beautiful Mind,” it was a bit difficult to apply all aspects of the written chapters in conversations with my mentor. Every two weeks when I meet with Anja over Zoom, she checks in with my progress briefly before delving right into a lecture-like lesson where she teachers me new skills and shows me how to use tools for music production. There is not much I can disagree or differ with during our meetings, since I know very little about the subject and she is an expert. Every now and then she will make sure I am understanding the content and ask if I have any questions. I will speak up if I am confused about anything, and respectfully ask for clarification, but there is nothing I could ‘disagree’ with her teachings. Conversations with my mentor and far from a debate, and more of a one-on-one lesson where I absorb a lot of information. However, I’m sure once I get more comfortable with using Pro Tools and am able to take on more creative liberty with this project, there will be more room for discussion and applying the concepts covered in the book. Anja does a really great job of keeping positive energy throughout all of our meetings so far, and we’ve been able to communicate effectively in our lessons. I can’t wait to post the next update!

An image of Anja teaching me EQ in Pro Tools.

Music Production – In-Depth Blog Post #1

Welcome to my first blog post of this year’s In-Depth project! The skill I have chosen this year is… Drumroll please! Music production!
I have been writing and composing my own original music for around 4 years now, and songwriting is one of my favourite hobbies! However, I’ve never had the technical skills to professionally record and produce music with proper equipment and programs. I’ve always tried to avoid the technical part of music editing, because digital editing is something I am not as interested in, and technology is not my strong suit. I would rather stick to the creative aspect of creating music. However, I’ve decided that for the benefit of my songs and for the sake of expanding and growing my music production knowledge, it’s time I’ve finally crossed the threshold and learned how to edit my tunes. I have very little experience right now and haven’t learned the “proper” way to record music. I am currently using a pair of apple earbuds and GarageBand to record music, which is less than ideal. Something others can do to help me along this journey would include listening to my music along the way and giving me feedback on how it sounds. Speaking to other students who have experience in music production would also be helpful.
To help me with this project, my amazing mentor Anja Frohnsdorf will be guiding me through the steps to learning music production! Anja is an incredible musician, singer, and songwriter, and has released her own EP and single. I will link her music at the end of this post. I know Anja through her performances at Coquitlam Alliance Church, as she would often lead or participate in the worship band. She is also the older sister of one of my closest middle school friends! I’ve contacted her a few times last month to sort out the general plan of this project. Once every two weeks, we will be meeting through a Zoom video call. In the first few meetings, we are planning to just talk about my goals and skills I want to learn through this project. Within the first couple of months, I hope to learn the basic tools in ProTools First, (the music editing software I will be using,) and familiarize myself with the structure of music production. By the third month I hope to be recording some of my own instruments and voice to create short musical clips, and by the final couple of months, I want to work on recording full songs with multiple track layers. This schedule is subject to change depending on what Anja thinks would work out best for me, and depending on how I organize my time as I gain more knowledge on the subject. All I need now is an audio interface (Anja is dropping off an old one of hers that I can borrow!) and I’ll be ready to get started! I’m so excited!

Anja’s amazing music:

Developing the Leaders Around You

Chapter One:

In Chapter One, Maxwell talks about the “Law of Magnetism,” which means “Who you are is who you attract.” This means that it takes a strong leader to attract other leaders and help them grow to their full potential. It takes a strong leader to set an example, earn the trust of potential leaders, and properly reproduce leaders. This principle stood out to me because it focuses on a very simple and almost obvious rule, but I think it can easily be overlooked. You cannot lead and attract other leaders without being capable of leading yourself. A few years ago I was doing a group math project for school, and I tried to find the person in our group who would be most willing to do the hardest tasks. I wanted to suggest that they take on that task, which seems like taking initiative by delegating the work when in reality I am challenging others to do something I cannot do myself. Finding and growing other leaders can only be done if you are a leader in the first place. Only then can you lead by example, experiences, and valuable, accurate knowledge. Going forward, I always make sure I am confident in my leadership skills before attempting to seek out other possible leaders.

Chapter Two:

Different leaders have different thinking styles. Chapter Two touches on the many different mindsets leaders can have. For example, strategic thinkers are strong problem-solvers, and un-selfish thinkers are good communicators and compassionate listeners. This principle is interesting to me because thinking about the different styles of thinking and recognizing them inside myself and the leaders around me have really opened my eyes to what each person brings to the group. I think I am a strong creative, shared, and big picture thinker. If I were to work with someone who is a focused, realistic, and bottom-line thinker, we would each have special skills to contribute, and have a well-rounded dynamic. Recognizing this can lead me to form stronger groups, delegate tasks better suited to each person, and understand the mindset of others. In our future trip planning meetings, I think it might be a good idea to start by recognizing what each of our strengths are, and how they should be put to good use. Additionally, if I am able to identify any of these thinking styles in the Grade 9s, it could help me understand and further develop them as leaders by emphasizing their strengths. A good example of this would be if a Grade 9 is a strong shared thinker, I might suggest that they try leading small meetings, sharing information with the rest of the class, or leading events.

Chapter Three:

Modelling is one of the 5 steps to turning producers into reproducers. Similar to my chosen point in Chapter One, modelling is a way of teaching by leading examples, experiences, and being confident in the knowledge I have gained. This is more effective than simply telling others what to do, because (as it says in the booklet,) we remember 10% of what we hear, 50% of what we see, 70% of what we say, and 90% of what we hear, see, say, and do. Actually, being able to do what you teach is a lot more difficult and requires more effort but is far more valuable. This concept stood out to me because I’ve recently realized that the reason, I don’t always remember the information I’ve just written down or studied on paper is because the ultimate way of absorbing knowledge is by actively going out and getting experiences. Now, I try to make all of my learning experiences as active as possible. Trying new things and failing is all part of the process, and I will ultimately benefit in the end. When mentoring the Grade 9s, I will make sure to give them advice and lead them only from the information I have gained from my own experiences and mistakes. For example, last year when we were at Hick’s Lake, my food group ended up running out of chicken to make our dinner with thanks to a mix-up of information. We ended up using bread instead, and it was fairly effective. Because of this experience, I’ve learned the consequences of poor communication, and the creativity and teamwork required in problem-solving. This is knowledge I could pass onto potential leaders.

Chapter Four:

Motivating others is step 4 out of the 5 step process of turning producers into reproducers. Being able to empower learning leaders is a crucial part of boosting their growth and connecting with your team. Your motives must be truly wanting to help others and help them towards success. It is important to evaluate yourself as an empowering leader to see what areas you need to work on to help motivate your group. This principle is important to me because I strongly believe that positive reassurance and small celebrations are necessary for personal growth. It all starts with me, and what I really want for my fellow leaders. After taking the evaluation I now know that I need to work on investing time in developing other leaders and give my influence to others more publicly. Once I am clear in what my goals are for my potential leaders, I need to be able to make connections with my teammates, focus on their individual strengths and weaknesses, and build trust so they are able to recognize certain qualities in themselves. Being able to have my teammates believe in me as well as themselves is a strong step towards growing together. For future trip-planning meetings, I want to be able to connect with my group by communicating effectively, celebrating small victories, and collaborating ideas. Though I doubt that the TALONS community will have trouble becoming a close family in no time.

In-Depth Final Post – Let’s DANCE!

Hey everyone! Welcome to my In-Depth! My dance partner, Gyu Min, and I have been working extremely hard to learn a 90-second hip-hop dance routine and perform it for you all tonight, so I hope you enjoy it. Learning how to dance was a really interesting and fun journey, so if you’d like to see how it went, click on this first link below:

In-Depth Process Video

If you don’t have enough time to watch that, you can just watch the two different versions of our final dance routine. This first link leads to the routine with both of us in the same shot:

Dance Routine Version #1

And this link is two separate videos of us joined together (also included in the process video):

Dance Routine Version #2

Thank you so much to Kailey Huang for leading us through this journey and being a kind, supportive, and patient mentor. We’ve both learned so much from her and had a ton of fun in the process.

Don’t forget to comment any questions or feedback, and I will try to respond as soon as I can. Thanks for watching, and enjoy In-Depth Night!

– Indah

Almost There! – In-Depth Post #6

Since my last blog post, Gyu Min and Kailey have meted with me over Zoom call twice to rehearse our dance and finish the routine. Each call consists of a short review of the moves we have already learned, followed by some feedback from Kailey, and when we are ready to move on, we take on the next few steps of the dance. Kailey has made alters to our routine so it would work with us performing side by side via edited video, instead of in person. She has done an amazing job of keeping in touch with us and staying organized and patient with us, even though teaching dance over call is a lot more difficult than in person. We are not able to get the same feedback as we would if she were able to observe us from all angles, and it’s been difficult trying to explain different moves and getting proper help with our progress, but we are working very hard to try and make it work. Outside of our call meetings, Gyu Min and I have been submitting video recordings of us practicing our dance to Kailey so she can quickly edit them together and see what we look like side by side. We’ve been staying organized during this quarantine by setting dates to meet and due dates for the practice videos. My final presentation for In-Depth Night will consist of the viewing of our dance routine video (since it’s only 90 seconds) as well as a brief description of the process, how we’ve improved, and some key points that we’ve learned from Kailey. Next week, we plan to meet over call for the last time and finish our dance routine, followed by the final recording of our dance which I will edit into the final video. I am very excited to see how the dance will look once completed, and I hope to see everyone at In-Depth Night!

Here is an updated video on our dance progress:

In-Depth Dance Progress

My Ecological Footprint

The Plan:

The total size of my ecological footprint was 8.2 hectares. After comparing it to a few of my peer’s scores, I found that my score was around 1.03 hectares higher than their average score. Looking back on my scores and habits, I noticed that I gained the most points by owning brand new clothes, travelling a lot in cars, spending too much time on technology, eating farmed fish, eating too many dairy products, producing too much garbage, showering for too long, flushing the toilet too often, not avoiding disposable items, my family owning more than one car, and using too much equipment form my leisure activities. There was a lot of room for improvement in the way I went about my day, so I settled with changing the following 5 things. First of all, Taking showers under 2 minutes. I found that I waste a lot of water taking hot showers over 10 minutes when It is completely unnecessary and could be used for more important purposes. To not waste so much water I took cold to mildly warm showers and timed myself to make sure I didn’t run the water more than 2 minutes. I chose this because it was a simple and effective change to make, and even woke me up more in the morning. Secondly, I tried not to travel in a vehicle when I could walk or bike instead. The fumes produced by cars are extremely harmful to the environment, and we especially do not need to be using cars for a 5-minute drive with 2 people. So instead of driving to the post office to deliver a letter, I rode my skateboard there instead. Next, I spent less than an hour on technology for leisure purposes. Most of my day is spent doing useless and mind-numbing actions online or on my devices, so I decided to put them away and only used them when necessary. Next, I spent more time doing activities that do not require a lot of equipment. For example, instead of painting, I practiced dancing and singing, which doesn’t require any material at all. This saves some waste of materials and provides equal amounts of enjoyment. Finally, I tried to not produce as much garbage as I normally do. Garbage is one of the biggest issues polluting the earth and natural environments. By cutting down on the number of wrappers I unpackage, and other junk I throw away, I easily make a difference in the waste being produced.

The Reflection:

After applying these changes, I can say the easiest changes to adapt to were the length of my shower, spending more time doing activities that don’t require equipment, and not producing as much garbage. These changes were just simple actions that I could easily remember to complete and that didn’t hugely affect my day but affected my environmental footprint greatly. Not much in my routine was different than before, and I easily got into the habit of reminding myself to be mindful of each of these goals. On the other hand, spending less time on technology, and not travelling in cars was a little harder for me. Technology and social media is something that I find myself looking at for long amounts of the day. It was very tempting to grab back my phone and scroll through Instagram, and I did slip up a couple of times, but I tried my hardest to stick to my goal. As for transportation, It is so much more convenient to hop in a car and be anywhere in an instant, but I slowly learned to enjoy the ride to my destination and not just where I am going. Though it took some getting used to, it long skateboard rides or walks grew on me after a while. Some of the obstacles I encountered while applying these changes were breaking the habits I was trying to build or forgetting about the limits I had to set for myself. I only slipped up a couple of times, but it made me realize how much effort I had to put to build a good habit, even for a simple action. Some next steps I will take in the future will be to buy fewer clothes from fast-fashion brands and go more ethical or buy from thrift-shops if I need something that I don’t already have. Turning old clothes into something new is something I enjoy doing anyway, so that will be the next step I take into becoming environmentally friendly.