Final In-Depth Project

Hello there, welcome to my blog!

My name is Myung Joon (or MJ) and I’m currently a grade 9 in the TALONS program.

For the past few months, I have been working on learning a new skill with a help of a mentor, and for this, I have chosen to learn how to play the trumpet.

With the help of my mentor, Daniel Kwong, I have managed to develop this skill in a matter of months, and below you will find a video that I have prepared for today. Go ahead and watch it, and I hope you enjoy it!

(I suggest turning your volume down a ton if you don’t want your ears blown out.)

The bestest video ever

Thank you so much for watching the video, and just sticking through the video. Don’t forget to comment below if you have any comments or questions, and I’ll try to answer them to the best of my abilities.

In Depth Post #6

We’re finally near the end. Looking back now, it’s been a pretty long process with a lot of learning involved. My mentor has been with me the entire way and has helped me develop this new skill. Learning the trumpet has been a blast so far. I’ve enjoyed almost every step of this journey learning new songs, and just simply playing music. In fact, I’ve started to think about what I was going to do with this new skill in the future. There are a lot of new songs that I want to play, so maybe I might learn those for fun in the near future. I just really hope that I don’t end up dropping this skill entirely as it’s taken quite some time to develop and has simply been very enjoyable. Music is something that I really enjoy and value, so learning this new skill has helped me enjoy it even more.

Since the last blog post, I don’t think anything drastic has changed. I’m still playing every chance I get, and I haven’t gotten any new high notes quite yet. However, if I had to pinpoint one improvement, I would say that it’s the sound of the trumpet. My mentor has mentioned this to me as well, but I really think that the sound that I’m able to produce is now a lot louder, and more clear. My embouchure has developed to a point where I’m able to produce a nicer, sound without having to strain my muscles too much at all. I’ve also started to develop some articulation with my mentor as this is an important part learning new pieces. For example, I’ve learned how to produce a pretty solid staccato for some of the pieces I’m currently learning.

Overall, I think my meeting with my mentor are going pretty well. We tend to discuss a lot of casual things like events that have happened during our weeks, or exciting news we have heard. But after our friendly banter, we always get into the learning portion for a solid hour or so. I still wish that I could meet with him face to face so that he could listen to my playing more clearly, but that’s still not an option we currently have. However, I don’t seem to be facing any other problems with our meetings online. There’s not too much lag, or glitches, and he’s still about to see my face well enough to be able to give me pointers about my embouchure. So, I think it’s not too bad just yet.

In terms of my presentation for my In Depth night, I’m thinking of making a video of me playing the piece that I was teasing about in my last blog post. I’m still not going to give you a name or a title, but there is a clip of the piece below. I’ve made a backtrack for the piece a while back, so I’m simply going to edit my playing over the backtrack for the video. I may make a compilation for the recordings as well, but I’m afraid it might come out too long. But I’m sure future me can take care of the editing for that.

Here are the recordings from the past two weeks. The first one is a piece that I’ve just been learning in my free time, while the second is the sneak peek at my final video.

May 2

May 9

 

Again, I would like to thank my mentor for giving up his time to mentor me, and for being a wonderful teacher all around. I really couldn’t have done this without his help. I appreciate all of the support, and kindness that he has shown me, and I hope I can show him that it was all worth it in the end. And I guess this is the last casual blog post before the real thing, so I guess I’ll say some of my final remarks here. It really has been an enjoyable journey, and I had a ton of fun doing this through half of the year. This is probably the most fun I’ve had with any project and I really hope that I can have the same amount of fun next year as well. Once again, thank you to my mentor, Mr. Kwong for all of your hard work, and thank you for reading my blog posts.

Signing out,

~MJ

Plus Ultra, Go Further Beyond.

In-Depth Blog Post #5

Wow, upon starting this post, I’ve just realized how far I’ve come in terms of my In-Depth. My mentor, Mr. Kwong has helped guide me along with journey, and I’ve been having fun the entire way through. Even though we’re all stuck at home because of the current situation outside, my mentor and I are still continuing to meet through teams video calls every week. It would be better if we could meet in person, but this is the best we can do for now. I’m still continuing to practice nearly every day due to the large amounts of free time I have.

I’ve also thought of a new, very exciting project that I have yet to talk to my mentor about. I’ve chosen a new song to learn and I’m really excited to get started on it. I’m not going to reveal what song I’m trying to learn just yet, and you don’t get any points for guessing correctly. But it’s a song that I really enjoy listening to as it’s catchy and has a very happy vibe to it. It always gets me in a good mood whenever I listen to it.

But so far, I have been working on developing a better quality sound with the help of my mentor. Playing a sound that’s nice to listen to is actually a lot of hard work. There are a lot of factors that come into play. You need a nice and sturdy embouchure that won’t give out, as well as a good balance of air compression and air speed to produce a high note that doesn’t end up screeching in your ear. My mentor has also taught me a few more warm up techniques that are actually very beneficial to my practices. If you want to take a look at one of them, you can listen to the recording for April 4th.

We only have 2 recordings this time, since it has only been 2 weeks since the last blog post. But unfortunately, I’m not playing any music in either one. The first displays a new warm up technique that I learned, and the second is just a clip of trumpet maintenance. I really don’t have any new music to show apart from the one that I’m trying to keep a secret for now, so I hope you aren’t too disappointed. But if you are, I promise that the next blog post will actually have me playing music!

Recordings:

April 4

April 11

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

My mentor actually provides me with a ton a different resources for me to use during my own practice time so that I continue to have a general idea of what my goal is even without him there. So for example, he has recommended many professional trumpet players to listen to while practicing so that I know what kind of sound to strive for. If I have no idea what kind of sound is needed or ideal, then I won’t really have any goals to achieve. He has also been so kind as to provide me with a beginner band book or the trumpet. It’s been a huge help when developing technique as it contains a few simple tunes to play, as well as many technical exercises to practice with.

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

There are a lot of very good trumpet tutorials out there that are made by professional trumpet players. But, many players have different ways of teaching and can help me to further understand the different techniques for trumpet playing.

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

Especially during our current situation, I think what would really help to accelerate my learning is some live trumpet playing that I can base my playing off of. Currently, the only playing that I can base my own playing on are all recordings of people playing trumpet. However, this is not actually the same as listening to a live trumpet. There may be background noise, static, or bad microphones that may change and alter the sound of the trumpet, so the pure sound of an unaltered trumpet would be quite beneficial for me at the moment.

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

Whenever I meet with my mentor, we simply start each meeting by catching up with each other and discussing our weeks with one another. We talk about how our families are doing during the quarantine, and we share short stories from our week. After catching up with each other, we get started with the mentorship. He usually just asks me what I want to practice, and we end up focusing on that. Whether that is reaching higher notes, developing better technique, or simply playing a bit of music, we simply discuss whatever topic I choose to develop.

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

One aspect of our relationship that I particularly value is how easy it is for us to talk casually to one another. When he isn’t teaching me, we usually tend to have a lot of simple small talk whether it’s about our families, or our experiences, or even just about music. I’ve come to really enjoy and appreciate the friendly atmosphere we have between each other where we are able to talk so easy about the most irrelevant topics whenever he isn’t teaching.

6. What are you learning about one another?

I’ve actually learnt quite a bit about him as we tend to have a lot of discussions together. We often talk about our families with one another as I have come to learn quite a bit about his family through our many discussions. He also personally knows my sister since he is her music teacher at her school. So in general, I’ve been able to get to know him at a very personal level.

 

Overall, I’ve been having a ton of fun with this project. Learning the trumpet has been such a new experience for me and now that I’m able to learn a few of the songs I’ve wanted to learn from the beginning, I’m really happy that I chose this for my In depth. But of course, this wouldn’t be same without Mr. Kwong who has been so kind, patient, and a good mentor to me and I really want to thank him for all of the time he spent mentoring me. So, a huge thanks to my mentor for being an amazing person. I know this isn’t quite over yet, but I feel the end slowly approaching, so it’s time to make the best of the remaining time I have left.

~ MJ

 

In-Depth Blog Post #4

This is now my forth post, and I’ve got to say, I think I’ve improved a ton since the last blog post. I’ve managed to hit that octave note that I’ve been gunning for, and even played some more notes past that. Lately, I’ve been playing a few songs from a beginner’s trumpet book that my mentor lent me, and it has been going quite well. It took some practice to get used to changing notes quickly, but once I got the hang of it, it was only a matter of being able to play the notes. So my mentor actually suggested I find a few scores online to play so that we could start working on intonation and sound. I’ve also started recording myself playing the trumpet every Saturday to show as evidence of my work, and so that I can listen to my sound and tone better to help improve. A link to these recordings will be near the bottom.

What has been my most difficult mentoring challenge so far?  Why?

There are not many challenges that we are currently facing (apart from the fact that we cannot meet at the moment), but if I were to choose the most difficult challenge that I have had so far, it would be getting a consistent sound. Since I have just started getting used to the trumpet and all of its notes, producing a nice consistent sound is the next step. This means that I have to be able to play without having my notes “waver” or change in tone all too much while attempting to play with a good quality sound. But this has been proving quite challenging for two reasons. First off, I need to be able to play and recognize the good quality sound that the trumpet can produce. So far, my mentor has not focused too much on sound quality since being able to play the notes always comes first. Therefore, I don’t really know how to produce the sound that I am aiming for. Second, it’s hard to teach/show how to play a good sound. It doesn’t matter is I’ve perfectly memorized the good quality sound if I don’t know how to even get there. Luckily, my mentor is very good and thorough when he teaches, so I’m not too worried, but I will have to work quite hard in order to get there.

What is working well? Why?

My mentor is not really structuring our sessions and he is instead making my practices a lot more flexible. He doesn’t really give me assignments or sets goals for me and rather leaves most of it to me. He believes that allowing me to choose what I want to practice is better than him choosing what I should practice and I think that it is working very well. This is not to say that he doesn’t guide me in any way, or doesn’t do much, he simply gives me choices on what I feel like practicing at that moment. If I want to develop my range, he helps me grow my range. If I want to learn songs, he provides me with music to play and even plays along with me. I personally really like this approach as it helps me keep motivated in learning. Nothing feels forced on me and it even helps develop my own motivation to practice at home.

What could be working better?  How can you make sure this happens?

There is one aspect of my mentorship that I’ve constantly had a bit of trouble with, and that would be my own practices at home. It’s not that I don’t know what to do, or that I can’t do anything without my mentor, it’s just that I can’t practice for long periods of time without my lips getting tired. My mentor has specifically warned me that if I strain myself too much once my lips get tired, then I will end up developing bad playing habits. So I’ve had to keep my practices quite short everyday in order to avoid this. But the only way to develop my muscles is to simply practice often. Now that I have a lot of freetime, I have been practicing everyday to develop these muscles, and I will tell you that it is a lot of work. However, it’s a lot of fun to play familiar songs so I’ve been enjoying my practices rather than finding them as a chore to do everyday.

 

Recordings:

These recordings are actually louder than you would expect, so I suggest putting your volume down before starting the clips.

March 14

March 21

March 28

 

So far, this has been a ton of fun to do and may even be my favourite project ever. I’ve also got something to do to pass the time so that’s a bonus I never asked for! I’m going to thank my Mr. Kwong once again for being such a wonderful mentor and for helping me get to this point. I now need to find some new music to learn, so I will go do that. In the meantime, stay safe, wash your hands, and I will see you in the next video post!

In-Depth Blog Post #3

We are now on our third In-Depth blog post of the year. So far, my mentor and I have been getting along quite well and I have learned quite a lot from him. Getting the hang of trumpet has been quite difficult so far, but my mentor has been very patient with me as he also knew the hardships of learning a new instrument quite well. We have met two times now, and during both sessions, I have been taught a ton about getting started with the trumpet. I’ve been able to play a few notes now, but they don’t sound very nice in any way. However, my mentor is suggesting that I simply just focus on getting any sound out of the trumpet for each note as we can more later refine the notes as we go on.

What went particularly well during your mentoring sessions?

There is a reason why I like my mentor a lot, and that reason is because he is easy to understand. He explains everything to me in a very clear and concise matter so that I am able to understand what he is trying to explain to me. In fact, teaching someone how to play a brass or woodwind instrument is one of the more difficult things to explain as it is more a skill that a student (or mentee in this case) learns from trial and error rather than from knowledge. So in order to make it easy on me, my mentor tries to come up with a number of different analogies that I can relate to so that I can more understand the general “feeling” that he is trying to teach me. And when he is explaining anything in this way, he is much easier to listen to as I clearly understand what he is attempting to convey to me.

Another reason why our mentoring sessions went well is because my mentor provides me with a number of different resources to use when I am practicing at home. Since we only meet about once every 1 – 2 weeks, he does his best to provide me with as many different resources as he can so that I am able to have successful practice sessions at home. For example, he suggested to me a number of different YouTube channels for me to base my playing on so that I could improve my playing at home. He specifically went through different channels in his free time to find people who were professional, explained the concepts easily, and most importantly, were concise. My mentor also provided me with a band book for trumpet that I could play different melodies from if I was getting tired of all of my technical work I was doing.

What relationship challenges did you face?

We actually did not face many relationship challenges at all. My mentor is an extremely patient person as he is kind and gentle with his words and is never harsh or even strict in any way. This way, I am under little to no stress while still being motivated to practice even more than I already am because I want to show him that what he is doing is worth his time. Now that I think about it, I can’t even come up with any challenges that our relationship had. I am able to effectively communicate with him as both of us check our emails regularly for school, we are comfortable with having our sessions together, and overall, we know each other quite well as my mentor tends to prompt me to talk about myself sometimes so that we can get to know each other better.

What learning challenges emerged?

The biggest challenge for me at the moment, is trying to get a good embouchure so that I can actually play all the notes. So far, I’ve been having trouble with playing a lot of the higher notes mostly because I used to play the french horn. Although there are similarities between the two instruments, there are also many differences. The biggest difference between the two, in my opinion, is the size of the mouth piece and embouchure. Due to the french horns, small mouthpiece, as well as the long, yet narrow piping, the embouchure of the french horn was much more lip based. While on the other hand, the trumpet has a bigger mouthpiece, as well as a shorter and wider piping, causing the embouchure to be a lot bigger, more loose, and based more on the “air pressure” inside your mouth. So the way that the different notes are reached, is quite different. Although trumpet is supposed to be easier, the fact that I am more used to french horn makes it that much more difficult for me.

 

Well, I’ll keep going at it with everything I’ve got, with the hopes that I am ready to go by In-Depth. But with the amazing mentor I have, I don’t think that it’ll be achievable. I really could not have done this without him as he really does make everything that much easier to understand. Thank you Mr. Kwong, for helping me get to this point, and I hope we can keep going, even further beyond.

Plus Ultra.

~ MJ

In-Depth Post #2

This is the second blog post for In depth and so far, I have not gotten too much progress just yet. My mentor and I have only met up once so far to simply greet each other and have the forms filled out. But I really do like my mentor a lot. My mentor’s name is Daniel Kwong and is a music teacher at Kwayhquitlum Middle School. He was and still is one of my favourite teachers that I have had thus far. In fact, when I was leaving Kwayhquitlum, he actually offered to mentor me if I needed a mentor for any project that I had to work on. So I decided to take him up on his offer and here we are now. However, in terms of the In Depth project, we have only been able to meet up once. And because he is a teacher, I can only meet him about once per week because our different schedules. Probably the biggest issue that is preventing me from meeting him more times a week is the fact that school ends at roughly 3:00 for him while school ends at 3:40 for me.

1. How did your mentor gain their experience/ expertise?

Again, my mentor is a music teacher who works in the district and so his knowledge and experience around music is very big. But he is also the band conductor at Kway as well. So as a band conductor, he has a very solid understanding of all of the different instruments in the band to the point where he has the ability to teach just about any instrument in the band.

2. What were those experiences like for your mentor?

He really enjoys music as a whole. He is very passionate about music and likes to learn new things based around that subject area as well. So he truly enjoys teaching music and conducting the school band and choirs. Even is the band does struggle once in a while, his passion and care drives him to help each person in the band become better players and helps in different external ways as well. For example, he sometimes spends hours after school just simply maintaining each person’s band vests so that they can look their best on concert days.

3. What wisdom have you gained from your mentor so far?

Although we have only met once so far, he has helped me tremendously in my progress on learning the trumpet. He is very good at describing and explaining things, so I was able to grasp how to play the trumpet. My mentor knows that I know how to play the french horn and tries his best to relate everything on the trumpet to the french horn so that I can relate his explanations to something that I am familiar with. For example, he helped describe the emboushure of the trumpet by saying that I had to create an emboushure that is about 3 times larger than the one on the french horn.

4. What have you learned so far, in terms of facilitation strategies, that might contribute to your own development as a mentor?

So far, from what I can tell, I think that one of the most important things to keep in mind as a mentor is that you need to relate to your mentee. You need to keep in mind their own experiences and knowledge so that you can build and help grow their experience using their own knowledge as a base. In other words, you must keep in mind what your mentee does and does not know. So for example, if your mentee is a very skilled sketcher who is looking to learn graphic arts, it would benefit them for you to somehow relate graphic arts to sketching so that he/she can have a much easier time understanding the different ideas and concepts. And along the same idea, you must make sure that your mentee has the proper knowledge to understand you teachings. For example, if you’re trying to teach your mentee how to write novels, but he doesn’t know how to read, then it will be way too confusing for the mentee. He/she will not understand anything you are saying to him and it will just end in a waste of time. But making sure not to reteach anything to the mentee is also important as it may also result in wasted time.

Anyhow, I really hope that my In-Depth project will go well.

Myung Joon~

In-Depth Introduction

For my In-Depth Project this year, I will be learning how to play the trumpet. In my opinion, the trumpet is a really cool instrument that has a strong and clear sound. It is usually the star of any band or orchestra as it usually has the most solos. Learning the trumpet has been something that has been on my bucket list for quite awhile now. Back in middle school, I really wanted to play the trumpet in our band, but was asked to play the french horn instead. I will admit, I did have a pretty good time playing the french horn, but in the back of my mind, I also wanted to play the trumpet. That wish continued to linger in my head as I progressed to high school. I was hoping to join band for the sole purpose of learning to play the trumpet, but I decided otherwise simply because it took up an elective. There were other courses I really wanted to take, but I did regret it a little. But now that I have the opportunity, I chose to finally learn this instrument. There are a whole lot of songs that I look forward to playing like “Floral Fury” and “Crimson Bow and Arrow” which are both songs that are heavy on the trumpet.

I hope to achieve my goal with the help of a wonderful mentor and be able to play the trumpet with good sound and intonation by the end of the school year. However, I do not currently have a set mentor. I have a couple people in mind, but I have yet to contact anyone. So therefore, the meeting and time of when we are going to meet has not been decided as of now.

Welp, lets just hope that I’m able to find a mentor soon so that I can start learning this wonderful instrument.

~MJ