CLE Interview

For my career education interview, I decided to interview my friend’s dad who is an experienced software engineer.

First, we had a discussion on educational background. To become a software engineer, I was told that a university degree in computer science or engineering was definitely required. He recommended me to conduct some research to find universities that offered computer-science-related programs and to look into the requirements to apply. When I asked him if he knew what courses that I needed to take in high school, he told me that I definitely needed a high-level math course and also advised me that taking a computer-related course such as programming would also help. He also recommended me to learn Python and Java, as they are two programming languages that are seeing more use in the tech industry in recent years. I already have some knowledge of using Java, but I have not played around with Python that much. I plan on spending some time this summer to get a decent grasp of the language. Overall, all of this is valuable knowledge for me, as I am very interested in pursuing a career related to computer science.

The second piece of advice that he gave me was that software engineers needed to be self-directed. He told me that many times at his job, he would need to look on the internet to learn more about a programming language or software. In addition, he told me that patience was required to learn new things in the software industry. He told me that he sometimes struggled to learn a new tool that he had to use for his job, and he was only able to familiarize himself with the tool after spending lots of time looking at various sources from the web. I thought that this was a really good piece of advice that could also be applied to other fields as well.

The last piece of advice that I received was that software engineers needed to always keep on learning. As technologies are continuing to be developed, it is really important for software engineers to keep up-to-date with the new tools. He told that even after being in the industry for over thirty years, he still needed to spend time learning new technology. Without constantly refreshing your knowledge on topics such as programming languages, software engineers won’t be able to create new innovations. As he put it, “you need passion for been to IT industry, and keep learning forever”. As I continue to learn more about computer science, I will remember that there is always more to learn.

In the end, I gained a good amount of knowledge from my friend’s dad regarding the career of a software engineer. This is a career that I am interested in, and I will take his advice into consideration moving forward.

In-Depth Post #6

It has been a month since my last in-depth post. Over this month, I have learned more about the concept of tempo and continued to focus on practicing playing the song Legend.

I had been working on playing the last section of the song Legend over spring break. As I was practicing, I realized that a few sections of my playing seemed to sound slightly off. Confused, I tried to determine what component felt wrong. I tried to focus on the dynamics by emphasizing the dramatic sections, but it still sounded off. After messing around on the keyboard for a while, I realized that I had not been focusing on tempo.

In music, tempo refers generally to the speed of a piece. When I played the song, my playing speed gradually slowed down as I got to the harder sections. A consistent tempo is crucial for a musical piece to flow. Also, the tempo of the song affects the overall mood it conveys. Songs with faster tempos tend to sound more energetic, while songs with slower tempo may feel more relaxed or melancholy. Keeping this in mind, I decided to focus on the tempo as I played the song Legend. First, I tried playing the song at different tempos to find a tempo that I felt the most comfortable playing. Then, I used a metronome to practice sticking to the tempo. Oftentimes, I begin playing at the rights tempo, then begin to slow down or speed up as I play. The metronome was an effective tool to help me keep to the time and develop my internal feel of the tempo.

Music Tempo

(The names of the different ranges of tempos. Tempo is measured in BPM, also known as beats per minute. For example, 60 BPM would be one beat per second, and 120 BPM would be two beats per second.)

However, I still found that I tended to slow down towards the more challenging sections of the song. This was because the tempo that I was comfortable playing varied for different sections of the song. To solve this difficulty, my solution was to purposely change the tempo at the hard sections instead of gradually slowing down. This way, the song still flowed well, as the tempo remained consistent for each individual section. Overall, I have learned a lot about tempo over the last month, and I am now putting more emphasis on maintaining the tempo in my pieces.

Concepts and Alternatives

Over the past month, I had two meeting meetings with my mentor, Aubrey. Aubrey was really busy with schoolwork, but he was kind enough to find some spare time for us to go over the song that I am currently working on, Legend. Our main focus over both meetings was to work on the final two sections for the song. Like before, we began by reviewing what I have learned so far. I played through the first half of the song, and Aubrey provided me with some feedback. He said: “Ok cool, try to make your notes connect with each other more. So, don’t suddenly press on the keys.” To make sure that Aubrey and I were on the same page, I generalized what he said into a concept. I told him: “Wait, ok, so the main concept here is basically finger pressure?” He told me that it was a general idea. More pressure used when pressing down on a key will make the note sound more pronounced. To connect the notes more, Aubrey told me that I should work on controlling how much force I use each time I hit a key.

From this concept, Aubrey and I were also able to generate ideas. I asked Aubrey: “Wait, should I try practicing controlling my finger pressure by practicing playing scales on the piano really softly?” Aubrey thought that could work well, and also came up with the idea of playing chords with one finger at a time while pressing down each key slowly. These ideas stemmed from the general concept of finger pressure.

Another concept that Aubrey and I discussed was note jumps. In the middle section of the song, I needed to shift my fingers around the keyboard quickly. Aubrey and I determined that the main concept that I needed to focus on was note jumps. He told me that note jumps were very important to practice, as many difficult pieces required the hands to move around suddenly and quickly. He then recommended me to take the section slow and avoid looking down to build up muscle memory. Eventually, I would be able to build up an intuition of where each key is located. Discussing a specific concept allowed us to find particular strategies to help me improve my playing.

(The fingering from bar 18 to bar 25 required a lot of jumps for the right hand.)

Next, we moved on to learning the new section. While going through this new section, Aubrey suggested that I try to work out the fingerings by myself first. I thought it was a good idea, so I began to slowly try out fingering combinations. After fiddling around for a while, I came up with a fingering that felt pretty good to me. When I slowly played the new section of the song using my fingering, Aubrey told me that it was pretty good, but there were some alternatives fingerings that worked too. Instead of using my index finger for playing one note, then jumping to the next note, he told me to try using my thumb instead. That way, my other fingers could naturally reach for the next note instead of jumping. I found Aubrey’s alternative fingering felt more comfortable, and I stuck to that fingering instead. By being open to seeking alternatives, I was able to simplify and improve my fingerings.

 

Overall, I have made lots of progress over the past month. I have finished learning all the notes for Legend, but I still need more practice. I will be aiming to learn one or two more songs over the next month. Here is a video of me playing up until the final section of the song Legend (Click here if the video does not play on the blog):

 

Learning Centers

As we are approaching in-depth night, I have begun to think about methods to present a portion of my learning and hard work over the past few months. Learning the piano has been an activity that I thoroughly enjoyed, and I want to convey some of my passion into my learning center. For the learning center, I plan to record and edit a video of myself playing a few pieces on the piano. I will choose some pieces that I had particularly enjoyed, and pieces that demonstrated my growth over the course of the project. After recording the pieces, I will compile the songs into an arrangement and share the video with the audience. Currently, I have a few songs in mind for the final performance, and I will be finalizing the list after learning one more song.

I am really excited to show my piano journey on in-depth night! Stay tuned…

In-Depth Post #5

Two weeks have passed since my last in-depth post. Over these two weeks, I have been mainly focusing on continuing to develop my sight reading skills and practicing a new section for the song Legend. I have also spent time playing the two songs that I have learnt before, Kataware Doki and Minuet in G to practice playing at different dynamics.

Four weeks ago, I had begun to practice my sight-reading. I had realized that to progress further, I needed to improve this important skill. To practice, I found sight-reading exercises on YouTube. First, I would read over the 4 bars of sheet music, trying to visualize the fingerings in my head. After one minute, I would begin playing the music at a slow and steady tempo. The music that I played was new, and I had seen the sheet music before. So, this was a great way to train my brain to quickly process the information that was given.

For the past two weeks, I have continued to practice sight reading exercises on YouTube, and I have slightly increased the difficulty level. I would play each exercise at x1.25 instead of normal speed. This change in tempo pushed my fingers to travel more quickly around the keys. It also forced me to plan out efficient fingering positions, as poor fingering would restrict my movement speed across the keyboard. This change in tempo made the exercises much more challenging. In the beginning, I felt somewhat frustrated when I made frequent mistakes and needed to pause the video several times. However, I told myself to calm down and take my time to plan out fingering positions. I noticed that the exercises became easier when I avoided rushing and prepared the fingerings before playing. Overall, I now feel really comfortable with sight-reading notes at a basic level. I can recognize different notes much more quickly than before, and use better fingering to play the music pieces. This improvement will help me with learning new songs in the future. Below is a video that I played at x1.25 speed for my practice:

I have also worked on playing the songs that I had learned previously, Kataware Doki and Minuet in G, to work on my dynamics. Dynamics describe the volume in music. Varying the dynamics of a piece of music can add more emotion and depth. I went back to playing the songs that I practiced before, keeping in mind the dynamics of the piece. Before, I just focused on playing the correct notes. Now, I paid attention to the dynamic markings (see below) on the sheet music, and adjusted my volume throughout the piece. I noticed that this had a big impact on the feel of the song. For example, Kataware Doki felt much more emotional building up from a quiet beginning to a loud and grand ending. I will continue to work on the dynamics of these songs and keep them in mind when playing future pieces.

The common dynamic markings and their names.

The Six Thinking Hats

Over the past two weeks, I had another quick meeting with my mentor, Aubrey. For the meeting, we went over the song that I am currently working on, Legend. During our discussion, I used the idea of the six thinking hats. This method helped Aubrey and I achieve parallel thinking. We were able to focus in the same direction as we shared out our thoughts and fully explore ideas without the need to outshine each other.

The White Hat

First, Aubrey and I reviewed what I had practiced so far. I started by playing the first half of the song while Aubrey listened. Afterwards, Aubrey provided me with feedback.

“Wait a second, what note are you playing in bar 8?” asked Aubrey.

“Wait, which note in that bar?” I replied.

“Uh… The last note of the bar. The one in the middle. The G.”

“Oh, that one. Right. Did I play it correctly?” I said, pressing down on the G key on my keyboard to confirm with Aubrey.

“Yeah. It should be G sharp, not G. Remember the sharps carry over from the bar.”

“Oh yeah… Okay, got it. Thanks. So even though the note looks like a G, it’s actually a G sharp?”

“Yup.”

In this conversation, we used the white hat to talk about hard facts and information. We talked about how sharps work and how it affects an entire bar.

 

The Red Hat

Then, Aubrey and I continued to talk about my progress with learning the song so far.

“So, what do you think?” asked Aubrey.

“Uh, well, I thought that last section there was pretty hard. I feel like I can’t play that part well enough, especially at a fast tempo.” I replied.

“Yeah, I think, I think it’s pretty hard to play that part fast. Just take it slow for now. Like, you don’t need to rush through any of the sections. Just practice it slowly at first and it will probably get easier once you’re familiar with the music.”

Here, we allowed ourselves to offer ideas based only on our emotions and intuition. When we stated that the section was hard, we did not use facts or logic to back it up.

 

The Black Hat

Then, we went over the fingerings for the next section.

“Yo dude, do you think this is too much for the next few weeks? I don’t know if I should do this last section.” I asked.

“Don’t worry. This section is mostly the same as the last section that you did. Just practice through it slowly.”

I used my black hat here and addressed my concerns with Aubrey to ensure that our plan moving forwards was a doable one.

 

The Yellow Hat

We continued our discussion.

“Yeah, after this section, the rest should be easy. I checked out the last part, and it didn’t look too bad.” I said.

“Yup. You just need to get through the second last part. Just practice! You should be able to play it after a while.” Said Aubrey.

Aubrey and I used our yellow hats to point out the positives in the situation. We both contributed ideas to answer why something should work.

 

The Green Hat

Then, I thought of an interesting idea.

“Wait hold up. Since I have an electric piano, why don’t I try playing the song with an electronic sound? I can switch the tone to like a 16-bit retro thing. That’ll make it sound close to the original.” I suggested.

“Oh yeah, you have an electronic piano. Yeah sure, you can experiment around with the different tones and find one that sounds cool. You don’t need to use the default one. You can even switch up the tone halfway through a song or something to change up the feel.”

We used the green hat in this conversation. We thought creatively and generated ideas for adding interest to my music.

 

The Blue Hat

Finally, we wrapped up the meeting.

“Alright nice, so basically, I should keep on practicing the previous sections, keeping in mind the stuff we talked about like the sharps thing. And yeah, I’ll work on the next sections for our next meeting.” I summarized.

“Yup! Sounds good. And if have any questions just message me. I’ll try to respond when I have time.”

“Cool, thanks.”

The blue hat was used here to put together the summary. We talked about what we went over the meeting and our plans for the next meeting.

 

Overall, I have made lots of progress over the past two weeks. I am looking forward to learning the last section for Legend and putting it all together. Here is a video of me playing a section of Legend that I have previously learned:(Click here if the video does not play on the blog

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Thanks for reading my blog post! Stayed tuned…

-Mike

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In-Depth Post #4

It has been two weeks since my last In-Depth post. Over these two weeks, I have mainly focused on practicing my sight-reading skill. I have also worked on playing a new song, Legend, that comes from a video game called Deltarune.

While I was practicing the new song two weeks ago, I realized that I needed to work on note reading. Often I would need to spend a lot of time reading specific notes from the sheet music, especially the notes above and below the staff (see image below). To practice playing the music more effectively, I decided to improve my note-reading skills. I had already done some note-reading practise with my mentor in the past, but not too much. To practice, I used a few YouTube videos that contained many sight-reading exercises for beginners.

How to read Ledger Lines - Sheet music | Simplifying Theory

The notes above and below the staff were difficult to read.

 

I would begin each exercise by reading the phrase(4 bars). Then, I would think of the fingering positions in my head. It is important to have proper fingering for playing pieces, as bad fingerings can make playing certain sections much more difficult. After a minute or so of preparing, I would begin to play the 4 bars at a slow tempo. I found these exercises to be surprisingly difficult. Not only did I have to read all of the notes in a short amount of time, but I also had to coordinate my left hand with my right hand. In addition, some notes were sharps or flats(black keys), which were harder to play.

After two weeks of dedicated practicing, I felt much more comfortable with playing the exercises. My sight-reading has definitely improved. Now, my brain is able to process the information on the sheet music more quickly. The time that I have spent on improving my sight reading will definitely help me with learning new songs effectively. Below is one of the videos that I used for my practice.

 

Listening and Asking Questions

Over the past two weeks, I met once with my mentor, Aubrey. Aubrey was really busy over the past two weeks, as he was going back to school in the US. Still, we had time to have a meeting. I am really thankful that he was willing to spend time to have a meeting even though he was really busy. For our meeting, we first reviewed the song that I had learned before, Kataware Doki. I have continued to practice the song over the past two weeks to keep my playing skills sharp. After playing through the entire song, Aubrey provided me with feedback. I made sure to listen attentively, knowing that I would gain valuable knowledge from Aubrey’s advice. One suggestion Aubrey made was: “try to connect your notes more. Basically, you want to make your piece flow. It should all be connected.” To probe further and to make sure that I was following what was said, I asked: “Wait, so basically you want to avoid doing staccato?” I knew from previous knowledge that playing staccato meant playing short and sudden notes. From this question, Aubrey elaborated on the subject. He confirmed that staccato should be avoided unless specified by the piece, and he explained that there were even different types of staccato. By asking a question after listening intently, I was able to gain a far better understanding of connecting notes and the use of staccato.

Afterwards, we talked about the new song that I was working on, Legend. Over the past two weeks, I spend lots of time practicing the first section of the song. This song was unlike the songs that I played before. It had many tricky fingerings that took me a lot of practicing to become comfortable with. From our last meeting, Aubrey had given me the fingerings for the entire first section. One of the section’s fingering particularly confused me. (See image below). To me, it felt much more natural to play with fingers 1 and 5 instead of 2 and 5. My fingers felt really stretched out and uncomfortable with the 2 and 5 fingering.

First Piano Lessons for Kids - How to Teach Piano Fingering

Each number corresponds to a different finger.

The fingering for bar 8 of Legend was especially tricky.

 

I was itching to ask Aubrey about this fingering, so after playing through the first section during the meeting, I asked Aubrey: “Wait, why is the fingering for the last notes on bar 8 2 and 5? Could it be 1 and 5 instead?” This was a fishing question. I was more open-ended and I did not know what Aubrey’s answer would be. He responded with: “Oh, wait. Are you playing G or G sharp? Remember, the sharps carry over.” This explanation helped me clear up my confusion. I had thought one of the notes was a G, but it was a G sharp instead. So, the reason the fingering felt wrong was that I was playing the incorrect note. Another question that I asked Aubrey as we talked about fingering is: “why is it important for us to learn fingering for the piano?” I wanted to understand the importance of learning about fingering. Aubrey said it was a fundamental skill that pianist all need to work on. Without proper fingering, it would be impossible to play songs smoothly. This was an important piece of knowledge that I had gained from being curious and asking questions.

Overall, a lot of progress was made from our meeting this week. For the next few weeks, we decided to continue working on the next section of Legend and to continue practicing sight-reading exercises. Here is a video of me playing a section of Legend that I have learnt so far:(Click here if the video does not play on the blog

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The next section of Legend looks challenging, so I am sure it will be an interesting experience to learn and practice. I am really enjoying learning this song so far, and I am really excited to continue to work on it! Stay tuned…

-Mike

 

 

 

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In-Depth Post #3

I have been continuing to make progress on learning the piano over the past two weeks. For the past two weeks, I have been mainly focused on practicing the two songs that I have been working on as well as improving finger independence.

Two weeks ago, I had finished learning the notes for two songs: Kataware Doki and Minuet in G. At that point, I had was able to play through the entirety of both songs without reading off the sheet music. However, I felt that I wasn’t ready to move on to learning new songs yet. Although I could play each section of the songs, there were a few sections that I found really difficult such as bars 33 to 38 of Katawaer Doki (see below). These sections required me to really stretch out my fingers and move my hands around the keyboard. On bar 37, I even needed to cross my left and right hand. When practicing those challenging sections, I needed to slow down and play at a really slow tempo. I also often made mistakes and played the wrong notes. Overall, I felt there was something missing. The songs did not flow, nor did they convey many emotions.

The second page for Kataware Doki has a challenging section from bar 33 to 38.

(Bar 33 is the third bar of the third line from the top, and bar 38 is the first bar of the second line from the bottom.)

To make the songs sound more smooth and natural, I practiced both songs rigorously for the past two weeks. I practiced the songs by targeting one section at a time First, I identified the sections that I felt needed the most work. Then, I would repeatedly play just that one section. By doing this, I was able to practice and improve the most difficult sections. An example of a section that I focused on was bar 33 – 38. As previously mentioned, this section contained many finger stretches and jumps for the left hand, as well as precise and unusual note timings. I practiced this section one hand at a time, then combined both hands together. I also counted the time in my head as I practiced this section. Although it was slightly frustrating to practice this section at first, I told myself to stay patient and keep on practicing. Eventually, my finger developed memory for the section, and I was able to play it much more comfortably. Now, after two weeks of practicing, playing the two songs feel much more natural. I am able to play the challenging sections without frequent errors, and I can connect each section together more smoothly.

Generating Interest and Responding

Over the last two weeks, I had two meetings with my mentor, Aubrey. Aubrey was on a break for the last few weeks, so we were able to have more frequent meetings. I am really grateful for his willingness to spend a lot of time mentoring me. Like before, we had our meetings via Zoom. For our meetings over the past two weeks, we mainly talked about fingering techniques and how I would improve my playing for the challenging sections in the songs.

First, we began each meeting by warming up my fingers. I played scales such as the C major scale and Dm major scale. I also practiced sight-reading by trying to read off sheet music that Aubrey shared with me. While we did the warm-up, Aubrey would tell me what I needed to work on in terms of hand posture. One piece of feedback he said was: “Try to avoid leaning your hand on your pinkie.”At first, I wasn’t exactly sure what Aubrey meant. So, I asked for clarification. I said: “Wait, sorry, could you please clarify?” Aubrey then explained that he wanted me to rotate my hands towards my thumbs more, which then made sense to me.

After warming up, Aubrey would listen to me play the section, and he would then provide feedback and suggestions on how I could practice. After listening to me play the hard sections in Kataware Doki, Aubrey suggested me to “try to put more emphasis on the higher notes.” To generate interest, I made connections with a concept that we talked about earlier. I asked him: “does this relate to leaning my hand on a certain finger?” This question then led us to have a thorough and interesting discussion about how dynamics are affected by finger pressure.

Overall, we had really productive meetings together. By the end of the second meeting, we agreed that I was ready to move on to learning a new song. I also let Aubrey know that I was going to continue to work on the two songs that I had learned so I can keep sharpening the skills that I had practiced. Here is a video of me playing Kataware Doki:(Click here if the video does not play on the blog

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The new song that we agreed to work on is from a video game that we both used to play in grade 8. The song is called Legend, and it comes from an RPG game called Deltarune. This song is at a suitable difficulty level for me to learn, and will really exercise my hand independence. I suggested this song to Aubrey because I really enjoyed its fantasy vibe. Over the next few weeks, I will begin to practice the first half of this song. I am really excited to get started!

-Mike

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In-Depth Post #2

It has been a few weeks since my last in-depth post. Over the past few weeks, I have continued to play the piano while focusing on fingering techniques.

To effectively practice, I created a practice structure. First, I would my practicing each day begin by warming up my fingers. One exercise that I did was playing scales on the piano. Initially, I started by playing the C major scale. Then, as my fingers felt more natural playing the scale, I switched over to warming up with the D major scale. The D major scale has the same fingering as the C major scale, but the D major scale also contains notes on the black keys. At first, it felt slightly uncomfortable to reach for the black keys, and I would sometimes play the wrong key by accident. However, after sticking with the exercise for a few weeks, I felt more and more comfortable playing the D major scale. Now, I am able to play 2 octaves of the C major and D major scale with both of my hands. For the next few weeks, I plan on warming up with other scales with similar fingering, such as the G major scale.

Piano Scales Tutorial - Ruth Pheasant Piano LessonsF Major Scale Piano Sheet Music | piano sheet music with ...2 octaves of the C major scale and D major scale with fingerings.

 

After warming up, I would start practicing the two songs that I have been working on. These two songs were decided together by my mentor, Aubrey, and myself. We discussed the songs that I would be working on during our first meeting. Since we could not meet in-person, all of our meetings were conducted online through Zoom. During each meeting, I kept an open mind and set aside my own need to be right. I knew that Aubrey was far more knowledgeable on the piano and listening to his suggestions and ideas would be very valuable.

Screenshot from a meeting with my mentor.

 

Agreeing, Disagreeing, and Differing

When Aubrey recommended me to learn a popular song from a Japanese movie, Kataware Doki, I was somewhat skeptical. This was because I did not have much experience in the genre of music that the song was from. I recognized that my own musical background was influencing my opinions, and I tried to see Aubrey’s suggestion from his ‘logic bubble’. Looking at it from Aubrey’s point of view, I realized that he was suggesting songs based on his own familiarity with the songs, as well as his assessment of my skill level. I knew that there was much to be gained from being open to learning new songs and accepting Aubrey’s suggestions, so we agreed to work on the song Kataware Doki for the next month or so.

Another song that we have decided to practice was Minuet in G. This was a song that I had practiced a little bit before meeting with Aubrey, and I was excited to let him know that I wanted to work on this song. He was slightly skeptical if it was a suitable song for me to learn, and I realized that Aubrey and I had different opinions. To try to reconcile this difference, I laid out each of our opinions and tried to explain the reasoning for our thoughts. I told Aubrey that I thought he did not believe the song was a suitable difficulty for me, and I said that I believed I would be able to learn the song with dedicated practicing. In the end, we accepted that we had different views and agreed to work on the song. We also agreed to change the song if I struggled too much with it.

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Kataware Doki and Minuet in G, the two songs that I have been working on, are songs belonging to very different genres of music. Still, I really enjoy the variety and contrast while working on these two songs. I was faced with many challenges while practicing these songs, such as playing notes on the right beat and combining the left hand with the right. After practicing every day for a few weeks, I became much more familiar with the songs and became able to play the songs without constantly looking down at the keyboard. I have mostly finished playing these two songs, although I still need a lot of practice. I plan on continuing to practice these two songs over the next few weeks.

Here is a short video of myself playing the entirety of Minuet in G:

 

Overall, I am satisfied with my current progress. Over the past few weeks, I had several meetings with my mentor and had many valuable discussions on piano playing techniques and advice. Through the meetings I had with Aubrey, I practiced accepting different views and looking at ideas from another’s perspective. I am definitely becoming more familiar with playing the basics on the piano, and I am excited to listen to myself playing the two songs I have chosen after more practice.

-Mike

 

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In-Depth Post #1

This year, I have chosen to learn the piano for my In-Depth project. Throughout this project, I hope to gain a basic understanding of playing the piano. Some specific skills that I will learn about include reading sheet music, basic music theory, and proper piano playing techniques involving posture and fingering. The overall goal that I want to achieve is to be able to play a collection of songs on the piano, specifically some songs that others can recognize and enjoy. Some examples of songs that I will work on learning are popular classical pieces and video game soundtracks.

Why?

I am very passionate about music. I have been playing the drums and guitar for a long time, and I have really enjoyed my experience playing musical instruments. The piano is an instrument that I am interested in and have always wanted to learn. In the past, I have wanted to start learning the piano, but I did not have time, proper motivation, and a mentor. I am very excited to be able to learn the piano rigorously for my In-depth project.

Another reason that I chose to learn the piano is to improve my digital music production skills. For the past few years, I have made digital music as a hobby. From learning the piano, I will gain important knowledge on music theory components such as dynamics and key signatures that I can apply to enhance my digital music and create more complex and emotional songs.

How are you going to learn this skill?

The piano is an instrument that is popular, yet complex. To learn the basics of the piano over the next few months, I have created a detailed plan. As I progress, I will make the necessary adjustments to the plan.

Early January – Late January: Have a meeting with my mentor to talk about my goals and my learning plan. Begin learning the fundamentals of the piano by playing exercises and practicing basic songs. Begin to practice reading notes on the bass and treble clef. Have weekly meetings with my mentor to check up on my progress and to receive valuable knowledge and feedback.

Early February – Mid March: Learn about basic music theory components such as time signature and dynamics. Implement my note reading skills by reading sheet music. Practice a few select songs that are at an appropriate difficulty level. Have meetings with my mentor every week or two to check up on progress and to receive guidance.

Late March – Mid April: Have a meeting with my mentor to come up with a list of songs that I will play for my final presentation. Spend time practicing the chosen songs.

Late April – End: Finish practicing the chose musical pieces and record a performance of myself playing the arrangement of songs on the piano. Edit the video recording together and present it to others.

What can others do to help you? 

I will able to receive support from my mentor. My mentor, Aubrey, is a friend of mine from middle school. He is an expert in the field. Aubrey has performed at various provincial and national competitions and won many awards. Since we now go to different schools, we don’t have too much time to talk. It’s really cool that we hang out again online as I learn with him in In-depth. He has a lot of experience that will be able to help me get started on my piano playing journey. I can also receive tips and feedback from my classmates in TALONS who have experience playing the piano, as well as some of my other friends. Finally, my classmates can provide encouragement as I progress through In-depth.

Current Progress

I have already begun to learn about playing the piano. So far, I have found resources on YouTube that taught me about playing scales, basic chords, and reading notes for sheet music. I have also practiced a basic classical piece to challenge myself and implement what I have learned so far. Here is a video of myself playing the first section of Minuet in G Major, composed by J. S. Bach:

 

I am really excited to see where In-depth is going to bring me this year!

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Night of The Notables – Yao Ming

大家好! My name is Yao Ming. You might recognize me as a professional NBA player, but my influence and achievements go beyond the basketball court.

Never forget Yao Ming was an absolute beast with the ...

I was a natural at basketball from a young age. Although my height played a factor in my success, hard work and perseverance were what brought me to the top. Even when I was only 13 years old, I trained rigorously by practicing basketball for up to 10 hours every day.

Young Yao Ming | Rare NBA Photos | Pinterest

When I first entered the NBA, I was expected to fail. Other basketball players made jokes that discriminated against my Chinese background. However, I never backed down and fought to make sure my culture was properly represented. Overall, I had a very successful career in the NBA. Here are my top 10 plays!

Unfortunately, I suffered from many injuries throughout my entire career. I was plagued with sprained ankles, fractured feet, and bone infections. Despite the pain that the injuries brought on, I persisted and continued to play every time my injuries were healed.

Yao Ming Foot injuries derailed Yao during the final six ...

Even after his retirement, I continue to inspire countless people all over the world. As the first Chinese international sports star, I am a figure that Chinese youth look up to. The charity foundation that I built, the Yao Foundation, has promoted sports and fitness education throughout China.

Yao Ming's Charity Basketball Game staged in Wuhan to boost confidence - CGTN

Now, let’s play some basketball! I wish I could we could have a real match, but a virtual game works too! Move around with arrow keys or ‘WASD’. Jump with the ‘Space’ key. Left-click to throw normally, and right-click to throw with less force. Once the ball is thrown, move near it to pick it up again.

Try to complete some challenges:

  • Layup – Use the backboard to bounce the ball into the hoop
  • Jump Shot – Throw the ball to make a shot in mid-air
  • 3-Pointer – Make a shot behind the 3-point line(red line)
  • Swish – Get the ball through the hoop without it touching the rim or the backboard. Good luck!
  • Ramp Up – There are no ramps in a real basketball court, but let’s get interesting! Make a shot while standing on the ramp.
  • Eleven – That’s the number on my basketball jersey! Try to get exactly 11 points. Remember, you receive 3 points for a shot made behind the 3-point line and 2 points for a shot made anywhere else.
  • Dunked – Use the ramp and jump up towards the hoop. Then, dunk that ball.

 

Yao Ming (Chinese characters).svg

Thank you for visiting! Feel free to ask me any questions.

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Core Competency Activity

QUESTIONS:  

  • During Quarter 1, what went well for you? Explain. Examples: being back in the classroom, having only two courses, seeing my friends, keeping up with homework, playing volleyball, improving math, helping plan a virtual assembly, becoming more fit. 

Something that went well for me this Quarter was the schedule. This year, I found the schedule to be manageable. Having only 2 classes, I had more time to focus on each class. Overall, I felt that I had more time to concentrate on each class and learned the contents of the course much more effectively. 

 

  • During Quarter 1, what did you find challenging or disappointing or stressful? Explain. 

During Quarter 1, I found dealing with the safety regulations challenging. During the beginning of the year, I was worried that the safety regulations at school would not work. I was afraid of an outbreak occurring at school.

 

  • Think of ONE thing you really want to improve in Quarter 2 (and Q 3&4). Examples: a school subject, a sport, time spent on homework/studying, playing a musical instrument, leadership skills, a language, photography, a relationship, general fitness.  

For the upcoming quarters, I want to work on managing my time more effectively when I complete school assignments. 

 

  • What are two specific actions that you can start doing every day to get closer to your goal? How long will you spend on this action each day? What part of the day? 

a) Create a calendar online to remind me of the upcoming due dates for assignments.

b) Create a weekly schedule to plan out the work effectively. Frequently check the schedule to stay on track.

 

  • If you experience challenges, what might you do to work through them? Examples: ask help from a friend or parent; break the task into smaller chunks; “google” how other people may deal with similar problems. 

If I experience challenges, I will go ask for help from my friends and ask teachers for support if necessary. Often, other people can provide guidance and encouragement when I am experiencing a challenge. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Developing The Leader Around You👍

Session 1
The Law of Magnetism
“The growth and development of people is the highest calling of leadership.” This quote from Harvey Firestone signifies the importance of developing leaders around us. The law of magnetism states that only strong leaders have what it takes to develop others. There are many leaders equipped with various skills such as proper communication or time management, but few leaders have the skill to build up the people around them to make them better leaders. In other words, a true leader not only learns and grows as an individual, but they also take others to a higher leadership level. Working with others to help them reach their goals is one of the most difficult and essential skills that a leader must learn.
This principle is very relevant to me. As a grade 10, I have taken on the role of a leader in TALONS. Over the past few months, I have constantly sought to improve my leadership ability by practicing various skills such as effective communication and positivity. Sometimes, I have been too focused on trying to improve myself as a leader that I forgot about helping grow the other members in my committee. This is a principle that I will work to follow because I am motivated to help my peers succeed. I will definitely be keeping in mind the growth of others in my group for future leadership projects. To develop the grade 9s as leaders in the future, I will have them complete tasks independently while supporting them if they require help.

 

Session 2
Leaders have the ability to make things happen.
A crucial difference between those who lead and those who follow is that leaders have the ability to start momentum. There are people in a team who stop the momentum. These people do not move the group forward and can impede the progress of the team. Leaders are capable of doing actions that start momentum. They are called ‘momentum makers’. Leaders who follow this principle never wait for others to get started. They take responsibility and bring the group together. A good leader will always follow through on what they say and will take responsibility for their mistakes. Instead of waiting for opportunities to come, leaders take action and initiate the opportunities.
In my experience in TALONS, I have found myself in situations where I wanted other people in my group to step up and take charge. Instead of starting the momentum myself, I hoped somebody else would get the group started. This is an obstacle that I am going to overcome. I have been working towards being a ‘momentum maker’ this year and I will continue to apply this important principle for all of the upcoming leadership events. When my planning committee is quiet and unsure of what to do next, I will implement this principle to ‘make things happen’. I will address the group, summarizing what has been accomplished so far and discussing the next steps. I will work to get over my nervousness about speaking to a group, keeping in mind that a leader must initiate action.

 

Session 3
Work on yourself before you work on others.
John C. Maxwell stated, “leaders go first!” This is an important principle to keep in mind as a leader. Leaders should ask give themselves requirements to make sure they are prepared to lead. If a leader has done what they ask others to do, the leader gains credibility. Other team members trust that the leader knows what they are talking about. Next, if a leader is doing what they ask others to do, the leader gains leadership. They are leading the group, guiding them as they accomplish their tasks. If a leader asking others to do a task is willing to do it again, they gain connection. It is not enough to complete a task; a good leader must be willing to do it again to build a connection with the group. If a leader is not willing to accomplish a task again, the team members will be unmotivated and less likely to repeat the task too. Finally, if a leader asking others to do a task can do it well, they gain respect. The team will trust the leader’s judgements, therefore increasing the overall effectiveness of the group. If all of these requirements have been met, the leader creates motivation. A hard-working leader will create an atmosphere that will positively benefit others. Team members will be inspired by their leader’s abilities and will grow from the leader’s guidance.
In my opinion, this is a critically important concept. Throughout my life, I have seen many people try to work on others before themselves. They did not follow the advice and suggestions they give to other people. I have always found those people difficult to follow and trust. While planning future leadership events, I will constantly work hard on my tasks to set an example for my team. When I encourage another team member that is doing a task, I will let them know that I am also willing to do the task myself. Furthermore, I will make sure I know how a task is properly done before I delegate others with that task.

 

Session 4
Success is the maximum utilization of the abilities of those within your organization.
While personal success is the maximum usage of the abilities you have, the success of a group is determined by every single member and not just the leader. This concept emphasizes the importance of each individual in a group. A leader who can bring success to a group will focus on others in addition to themselves, knowing that that the success of a group requires each member to develop and contribute. A good leader will commit to their team member, focusing on finding ways to challenge and teach them. They bring out the unique strengths in others, allowing the team members to grow as leaders themselves. I believe this is an essential concept that I need to remember. Throughout my leadership experiences in TALONS, I have always sought to use my strengths to contribute to the team. I would oftentimes neglect to realize that for our group to succeed, each team member’s strength needs to be utilized. As I plan leadership events in the future, I will remember that a team’s success cannot come from one individual. I will focus on dividing tasks evenly to ensure everybody has enough work to do. This way, everyone can utilize their potential to the maximum and will experience the challenge needed to develop as a leader.

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