In-Depth Post 4

  1. What has been your most difficult mentoring challenge so far? Why?

My most difficult challenge with my mentor has not been anything that we could have prevented or controlled. At various times, my mentor’s cats developed urgent health problems that my mentor had to address, which occasionally forced us to postpone lessons, slowing my learning slightly. However, this was not a large issue, because there was a lot of work to be done in between while composing and experimenting.

  1. What is working well? Why?

I think the rate at which we meet up with each other for mentoring is working well. We have our mentoring sessions every two weeks, which allows time for lots of self-learning and experimentation with different instruments and effects in between, but does not take up too much of my mentor’s time.

  1. What could be working better? Why?

I think that one thing that we could do better is try to move our lesson time to a better time. My mentoring sessions start at 3:45 on Fridays, which means that I have to go right after school finishes. This does not give me much leeway when being driven to my mentor’s home, where she mentors me. This has caused me to arrive a bit late numerous times, so it is definitely best if I can work something out to change the mentoring sessions to a different time in a way that makes it more convenient for both of us.


These last few weeks I have been continuing to compose and work on my piece, and have been experimenting with the beat sequencer to make a drum beat to go with my piece. The beat sequencer allows you to make a simple drum beat by placing notes from different parts of a drum set on different times during the piece. This allows you to fully focus on creating a simple beat, which you can add on to by experimenting on the real drums later to think of interesting fills and other additions to eliminate repetition. During my mentoring lessons, I have also been learning more about the program I am using, Logic Pro, and learning more about the aspects of music and how to create them myself.

In-Depth Post #6

For my presentation on in-depth night, I will be doing a stage presentation. Since my project is on music composition, I will be presenting part of my composed piece using one of the instruments used in the piece.


What elements will you capture?:

My presentation will capture the pinnacle of the work that I have put into the project, which includes everything that I have learned, such as various mixing, recording, and editing skills that I have learned over the course of the project. Other elements captured will be the subtle techniques I learned from my mentor that I have added into the project and the human element of me performing the piece, which I believe will display the creativity that I used while composing the piece.


How will the audience members interact with your post?

The audience members will interact by listening to the piece, hopefully being able to pick up the different choices I made during the composition of the piece. Beyond this, my chosen method of presentation does not offer any other ways to interact with the presentation, because all I will be doing is performing an abridged version of my piece on the stage. Despite this, I still think that this will be an effective way to present my project, because they will be able to witness the culmination of my learning, and the end project will be much more entertaining than witnessing random bits and pieces of the learning process.


Progress Report:

I am close to finishing my final project. For the last few weeks, I have just been editing and adding effects to the different instruments and balancing the volumes so the different sounds do not interfere or overpower one another.

In-Depth Blog Post 5

In-Depth Blog Post 5:

  1. What kinds of learning opportunities does the mentor provide to expose you to new learning?

My mentor has been a very nurturing mentor, and helps me learn with experience and theory. For example, when she taught me how to construct chords and chord progressions, she not only teaches me how they work, but helps me learn with experience by listening to different pieces of music and identifying their chord progressions, and what sort of style they give.

  1. What kinds of learning opportunities exist to reinforce new learning?

To reinforce information and knowledge that I have just gained, I usually practice using that knowledge and test my understanding of it, which serves two purposes: it makes sure that I understand the topic and reveals anything that I do not yet understand and helps cement the newfound knowledge in my brain so I retain the information for later use.

  1. What kinds of opportunities exist that might accelerate learning?

There are many opportunities that can accelerate learning. One of the ones that I use frequently is watching videos related to what you want to learn. For example, I often watch videos related to music on websites/apps such as YouTube, which often include different music styles on different instruments that could give me inspiration for music of my own, and also increase my understanding of music.

  1. When you get together what do you talk about?

My mentor and I usually exchange the usual niceties, such as how they are doing, and then share some exciting experiences we have done since we have last seen each other. We also talk about my progress in my music lessons with my musical instruments. Then, we will discuss my progress so I can make a plan for what I still need to do and learn. After that, we begin our learning for that session.

  1. What is going particularly well in your mentoring relationship right now?

She seems to always be interested in whatever I have to say, and is a very kind and nurturing mentor. We always just talk about ourselves after we exchange our niceties, which allows us to know each other better and increase trust between us, making a more comfortable relationship for both of us. This makes every mentoring session more pleasant and allows me to learn more efficiently.

  1. What are you learning about one another?

I am learning a lot about my mentor, such as what sort of music she prefers, her personality, and interests. I have learned a lot about her beliefs and how she came to be how she is today. She is very close to her two cats, and she really believes in creativity and expressing your emotions through art.


For the past 6 weeks, I have had 4 mentoring sessions. Each time, I learned something new, such as different way to add effects such as reverb, or quantization. However, the main topic of my learning was quantization. Quantization is a way to edit the sounds in a song. It is when you move around notes you have recorded. It is most useful for eliminating imperfections in recorded music that you have played yourself, as it is a very rare occurrence for a person to play music completely in time. However, quantizing will sometimes make your music sound less human in a way, and sound a bit robotic. Nevertheless, it is still an extremely useful tool that allows creators to remove their human errors in music they record, making it an essential skill to learn for modern music creation.

Introductory In-Depth Project Blog Post

In-Depth Project: Songwriting


My chosen skill:

This year, the skill I have chosen for the in-depth project is songwriting/composing. Songwriting is a very advanced form of art where one must write sheet music for different instruments who will coordinate and play their instruments together to create music. Music is a very powerful form of art that can express the raw emotions of the creator through sound, and can be paired with poetry in the form of lyrics.


Why I have chosen this skill:

The reason I chose this skill is because I have always had a love for music, and I already know two instruments and would like to use them to gain a more advanced skill. The instruments I know how to play are the violin and drums, which means I have a percussion instrument, a significant part of any piece of music; and a musical instrument that can play a melody; another important type of instrument in a piece of music. I also have a very strong love for music, and listen to music very often – such as during car rides and while reading. Because of this, I believe my existing knowledge can blossom into a new skill that will allow my creativity to flourish.


What I will learn:

Specifically, I will learn how to use software that can write, edit, record, and compile sounds to create music. I will also learn the parts of a song, such as the chorus, verses, and pre-chorus; their purposes, their significance, how to recognize them, and how to create them effectively. Also, I will learn about the different aspects of a piece of music, such as time signature, key, and tempo, and how they will change the overall personality of a piece of music. Additionally, I will learn how to add emotion to the song. After I learn all this, I will compose my own song implementing at least two different instruments into the song, and using the knowledge I will gain from the previous months of the project.



Plan: Timetable:
Learn how to use different programs to write, record, and edit music. The first week of meeting my mentor.
Learn the basic aspects of music composition and their purposes and begin practicing how to recognize them while listening to different pieces of music. Second week and the third week.
Learn the more intricate aspects of music composition and their purposes and begin learning how to create them in my own music. Fourth week and the fifth week.
Begin experimenting with different melodies using the programs I have learned to further familiarize myself with the programs and practice using the information I have learned. Sixth week.
Compose the chorus for the violin. Seventh and eighth week
Compose the different verses for the violin. Ninth and tenth week
Compose the drum chorus to accompany the violin. Eleventh and twelfth week
Compose the drum verses. Thirteenth and fourteenth week
Practice playing the violin part. Fifteenth week
Practice playing the drum part. Sixteenth week
Record the violin part. Seventeenth week
Record the drum part. Eighteenth week
Edit and compile the recordings. Nineteenth week
Refine the recordings and add final touches. Twentieth week.

My Mentor:

My mentor is Jennifer Layne, a local musician and songwriter who offers music lessons for voice on the side. I first knew about her because my little brother has received voice lessons from her, and I thought that she would be able to effectively share her knowledge of music creation. I have not met her yet, but have done a bit of online research on the parts of songs to prepare for our first meet-up.





John Maxwell Assignment

One concept I found interesting was the Leadership Loop (Maxwell, 2013), a helpful tool to keep in mind when attempting to lead across. It explains how becoming a true leader is a long process. It explained a mistake that many aspiring leaders make: attempting to gain influence too quickly. There are seven stages of the Leadership Loop: caring, learning, appreciating, contributing, verbalizing, leading, and winning. I picked this because a leader will not just be with the people they lead: they will likely encounter other leaders as well, such as other department leaders within your company. In my opinion, a good leader will not just know how to lead people under them, but also be able to work with and lead other leaders as well. Following and completing the Leadership Loop (Maxwell, 2013) would be very useful if you are not at the top of your organization or group, and are in the middle, where there are likely other people in the middle trying to lead as well. The Leadership Loop (Maxwell, 2013) relates to TALONS because you must lead yourself through your education, but also communicate with your peers. An example of where this would have been useful was the cultural event planning for my event, where everyone was split up into pairs that were responsible for different aspects of the event. Since we were all still planning for the same event, we had to communicate to each other about our progress and relevant information. This furthers my leadership skills because being at the very top of an organization is rare, and there are usually many leaders in the middle of the organization in different departments, and it is essential to be able to work with the other leaders in your organization for not only you to be successful as a leader, but for the organization to be successful as a whole.


Another concept I thought would be useful is seeing everyone as a “10” (Maxwell, 2013), a concept of “leading down” (Maxwell, 2013). This means seeing people as who they can be, not who they are now and believing in them. It also includes giving them second chances when they make a mistake, recognizing their strengths, and realizing that people have many different strengths, and that being a “10” can have many meanings. John Maxwell wrote that “A 360° leader gets more out of their people because they think more of their people. It means not judging your people by their flaws, but by their strengths, and recognizing their potential. If you believe in who they can be, then it is more likely they will realize their potential and try their best when working for you. This relates to TALONS because when working with your peers, you will realize that they all have different strengths. If you judge them based on their weaknesses, you will never successfully work with them, and only become frustrated. However, if you see them as a “10”, you can help develop their skills so they can become more productive, and they will respect you as a leader as well. Also, by recognizing their strengths, you can give them a task that they are suited for and create a better result for whatever event you are planning or whatever project you are creating. This furthers your leadership skills by teaching you to recognize your peoples’ strong suits, which you can use to your advantage; and also by teaching you to not judge people by their flaws, which will allow you to help develop their skills instead of becoming frustrated with them, and also being a more likable leader.


The third concept I have decided to write about is “lightening your leader’s load” (Maxwell, 2013), and is a part of “leading up” (Maxwell, 2013). It describes ways to help your leader with their responsibilities and gain their trust and respect, such as handling your own responsibilities first, providing solutions when reporting problems, telling your leader what they need to hear, not what they want to hear (Maxwell, 2013), standing up for your leader when possible, and asking your leader how you can help. This teaches you how to ease your leader’s burden so they will be more willing to help you, and so the organization thrives. When the leader of an organization thrives, the organization is more likely to prosper, as the person making the largest decisions for the organization, the leader, is not as stressed. This relates to TALONS by teaching you how to be responsible for yourself and how to help the leader of your group. This would help during group projects because instead of finishing your work and stopping there, you would continue to help the group by helping the leader and gaining their gratitude and establishing a relationship with them. This furthers your leadership skills by teaching you a way to establish a connection with your leader and helping the leader and your organization at the same time. Because of your relationship with your leader, you can more easily move up through the ranks and gain more experience leading.

Practice Interview Reflection

In my practice interview, my interviewee was Robert, and I was being assessed by Arik. The feedback I received was to maintain more frequent eye contact, start with niceties rather than abruptly start asking questions, use more body language so I don’t look bored, and try to be more casual. The compliments about my interviewing I received were: I had good follow ups, I reacted to answers (smiling and nodding, the occasional “uh-huh”), I made connections, and I was engaged and stayed on topic.


A stretch I should acknowledge is maintaining more frequent eye contact. I believe that eye contact is crucial to an interview, and very important in more conversations because it makes you appear engaged to the conversation. By appearing more engaged to what the interviewee is saying, I can make them feel more comfortable, and make them feel like the interview is worth it. I sometimes have trouble with this because I am introverted and feel less comfortable in conversations that the average person, but there are ways I can
counteract this, such as looking at the interviewee’s eyebrows, rather than looking into their eyes.
Another stretch I should acknowledge is being less uptight and trying to be more friendly to the interviewee; something that would let the interviewee possibly feel more comfortable, allowing them to share information that they wouldn’t have otherwise, such as a personal connection to my eminent person. Information such as that would be extremely valuable for my research, and would make my end projects much more interesting. For this to happen, I would need to start with a cordial greeting and introduction, followed by a few niceties, rather than asking questions right out of the gate. I should also increase body language to appear more engaged to the conversation.


Although I received many stretches, I also had some strengths I would like to explain. The first strength, having good follow ups, is a great way to keep the conversation flowing while gaining more details on the initial question. It also shows that you were listening enough to want to know more about what they are saying. The only downside is that you might lose time if the interviewee gets distracted and goes on a tangent. The second strength is that I reacted to answers, usually by nodding, which shows that you are actively listening, the third strength is that I made connections to the interviewee by telling them that I could relate to what they said. The last strength Arik noticed was how I was engaged and stayed on topic. This minimizes the downsides of a talkative interviewee, and helps keep them focused on the interview and your questions.





Eminent Person Blog Posts Reflection

Looking at my peers’ blog posts was very enlightening on many less prevalent figures that subtly changed the course of history. Many of the eminent people’s stories showed me lessons that I would not have found in any other person. However different these people were, they all had something in common; leadership, perseverance, and courage. I noticed that these traits are the exact same traits TALONS tries to teach, and traits that I will need to succeed in life. Since my brief journey into the lives of these influential figures, I have decided to try my best to learn and exhibit these important attributes. I also noticed that the posts where the author emphasized their personal connections with their chosen person was more interesting to read, and the outpour of admiration was almost alluring. Since then, I have realized that your connections to your eminent person is a much more important piece to this project than I previously thought. In the future, I will place personal connections with my chosen person higher on my list of priorities. Also, the feedback I received was very useful, and my peers worded their comments in a way that not only informed my on potential improvements, but also did not discourage me. For example, I learned that it is more enjoyable for readers to read a couple broken-up paragraphs instead of one large clump of text. In summary, this was an effective way to prepare students for the next steps in this project because it allows students to see their peers’ work, receive feedback in a friendly environment, and even make some connections with their fellow students.

Eminent Person Blog Post

Barack Obama

Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek. – Barack Obama. These words sum up the values that drove him to make wise decisions, the changes he implemented, and the accomplishments he achieved. Aside from being the first non-white president of the United States, he has realized many feats of progress that will echo throughout the halls of history for hundreds of years. He steered his nation through a global financial catastrophe, He created the Affordable Care Act, forcing health insurance companies to pay for their customer’s ailments, whether they stemmed from a pre-existing condition or not. He ended the use of “enhanced interrogation techniques” at the Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp. He played an essential role in legalizing gay marriage.  All of this, he accomplished while dodging the Republican Party’s best attempts to halt the force of progress. Unsurprisingly, these achievements did not come without adversity, as a formidable republican majority would stop many of his attempts for change. Undaunted, Obama’s tenacity and resilience allowed him to fight on, finding loopholes and using executive decisions to implement the changes he promised to his voters. Of course, many of these accomplishments could not have been made without his integrity and sincere altruism — traits that have driven him to fight for equity in his country, traits that have drawn me to this person, and traits that I wish to emulate so they may unswervingly steer me to a life without regret. Despite my admiration for this man, we also have our differences, such as our nationalities; Obama is from the United States and considers himself an American, while I live in Canada and come from a Chinese family. We also have religious differences, as I consider myself to be an atheist, whereas Obama is a Christian. I will address these in my project and explain why these differences do not affect my respect for his decisions and actions. Despite these disparities, Obama does reflect some of my goals in TALONS, such as his leadership skills and resilience to setbacks, skills I will learn during my time in this program. Obama has many abilities that set him apart from other successful individuals in the field of politics. For instance, his masterful orating skills, combined with the candor and conviction with which he speaks and writes genuinely reflects the integrity that resides within his heart. It is something that allows him to truly resonate with the people he wishes to convince; no doubt something that has served him well throughout his political career, and a rare, valuable set of attributes to find in a politician. These remarkable abilities and extraordinary achievements may be what Obama is ultimately remembered for, but his integrity, honesty, and courage are what drove him to accomplish the ground-breaking triumphs he did, and what truly makes him worth remembering. This is why I am drawn to this man, and why he is truly deserving to be called ‘eminent’ in every sense of the word.

Obama’s Inauguration Speech


The white house scintillates with the colors of a rainbow to celebrate the legalization of gay marriage.


Obama and his wife.