In Depth Post 6: The Last Code

Welcome back to my last blog post before In Depth night! Looking back at this year, it’s been a pretty hectic year. It’s been a rough year for everyone around the world, so give yourself a quick pat on the back for making it this far. Now in terms of In Depth, I’ve been having a blast learning how to code from my mentor. I’ve come a really long way from not knowing anything about coding what so ever to knowing enough to even create short programs and games through code.

This week, my mentor and I worked on a quick game inspired by the prisoner’s dilemma. I would assume most people would know what this is by now, but for those of you who don’t, let me give you a quick run down on what this is. The prisoner’s dilemma is a pretty famous logic game that shows how two rational participants may not always cooperate with one another. The scenario goes something like this:

Two members of a criminal gang are arrested and imprisoned. Each prisoner is in solitary confinement with no means of communicating with the other. The prosecutors lack sufficient evidence to convict the pair on the principal charge, but they have enough to convict both on a lesser charge. Simultaneously, the prosecutors offer each prisoner a bargain. Each prisoner is given the opportunity either to betray the other by testifying that the other committed the crime, or to cooperate with the other by remaining silent. The possible outcomes are:

  • If A and B each betray the other, each of them serves two years in prison
  • If A betrays B but B remains silent, A will be set free and B will serve three years in prison
  • If A remains silent but B betrays A, A will serve three years in prison and B will be set free
  • If A and B both remain silent, both of them will serve only one year in prison (on the lesser charge).

So basically what we did this week was create a program that will play this “game” against you. You are able to select how many rounds to have, and you person with the least about of “years” (penalty points) wins. Now, let’s do what we usually do and go over the code!

This portion is the introduction that basically says “hello” and asks how many rounds you want to participate in. The cout function has been explained in most of my other posts, so I’ll be focusing more on any of the new information from this month. I’ve also added a quick if statement that makes sure that you can’t enter any number that’s less than or equal to 0 since that’s not very realistic.

Next in the code are some of the variables that we’ll be using. We have a counter that will help us keep track of which number round we’re on, pscore which is just the player’s score, cscore which is the computer’s score, pmove which is the player move, and previous move. I’ll be explaining the purpose of previous move later on, so just keep the last two lines in mind for now.

We now have the beginning of the meat of our code. We start off with a while statement that will basically repeat the code inside until a specified condition is met. In this case, we set it so that as long as the counter (Which is counting which round we are on) is less than or equal to the number of rounds that the player has set, the code will repeat. Then, inside the while statement, we have the round number, and the question that asks if you will cooperate, or defect.

We now have the important portion of the while code. As I explained earlier, there are a total of four different outcomes that could occur in this game, either you both cooperate, person A cooperates and person B does not, person B cooperates and person A does not, or you both do not cooperate. So, we created four different if statements so that the program will know what to do in each scenario. For example, take a look at the first one. If both you and the computer cooperate, you will both gain 1 penalty point each, and the program will state what happened.

Then at the very end of the while loop, we have a small piece of code that basically determines the algorithm that the computer follows in order to make its move. Remember the previous move variable that I asked you to remember near the start? Well, that is how the program determines what move to make next. It uses a strategy called the tit for tat strategy where you start by cooperating, and simply copy your opponent’s last move for every move afterwards. This is a strategy that has been proven to work well through many studies. This is why near the beginning of the code, the previousmove variable had been set to c, which basically means cooperate. So after each round, the previousmove variable will be set to what ever the player move was that round. Then, the counter will go up by one to signal that a round has gone by.

Finally, we have the end where the scores of each side are announced, and a quick if statement determines whether you won, lost, or tied.

All this code accumulates into this quick program:

Looking at the path of my learning, it started off very linear as I didn’t have the knowledge or skill to have many options. My mentor focused more on giving me the proper theory so that I could get some sort of start. After some time, my mentor began to provide me with choices and alternatives. More paths started to open up as I got a choice in which projects or assignments I wanted to do. However, my choices are usually limited to two choices since my mentor felt most comfortable teaching projects that she herself had done in the past. So, having a much older, and experienced mentor may have provided me with much more alternatives for learning, and many more choices for my projects. However, I’m still very content with my current mentor who had worked very hard to teach me so much regarding coding in c++. She’s easy to talk to and helps make sure I thoroughly understand all the topics at hand. If it wasn’t for her, I probably wouldn’t have been able to even explain my code like I have been in all of my blog posts.

Speaking of choices and alternatives, for my final In Depth project, my mentor gave me two different projects to choose from. One is much more ambitious than the other, but has a lot more potential and fun included. I don’t want to spoil the surprise, so I’m afraid I’m going to have to keep it a secret. The other option is more of a backup option for if the previous choice doesn’t work out. But I’m definitely going to be working hard to produce my envisioned results for the end. So, I’ll see you next time at the In Depth night. I look forward to producing my biggest project yet!

– MJ


In Depth Post 4: The Brain Awakens

Welcome back to my in depth! I hope you’ve had a good two weeks since the last post! Since last time, my mentor has been teaching me some new codes and some ways to implement the code. She’s started to take a more independent approach where she just supplies me with the necessary information, and has me problem solve to find how to apply them myself. So after teaching me some material, I’ve been assigned a project where I will need to convert the code into a functioning program. Of course, if I’m completely stumped she will help me out with hints.

So, what exactly did I learn this week? We mostly focused on code that has to do with the calculation of numbers. For example, some of the code that I learned includes how to create variables with decimals, basic arithmetic, and a bit of expanding on previous codes like cin and cout.

To begin with, let’s go over a code called doubles. In my previous posts, I believe that I went over a code called integers that basically allowed you to have numerical variables. Now, the main drawback with integers is that you can only have integers. (It’s kind of in the name) This means that you cannot have variables with decimals. So then, how do you create variables with decimals? That’s easy, you can simply use a code called doubles. This is basically the same as an integer and works similarly except that it can have decimals. However, this brings up the question that I asked my mentor, why do integers even exist? Why not just have doubles as the main way of displaying numbers? The simple answer is just that doubles have very bad rounding errors. In specific situations, the code will round the decimal, but it is not capable of looking at the number and deciding whether to round up or down. So, it will always just round down. This can cause heavy calculation errors, but there are ways to fix this problem. It’s just that it is very difficult to control these errors, making doubles very beginner unfriendly.

Moving on, there is basic arithmetic. This section is relatively easy as it is simply + for addition, – for subtraction, * for multiplication, and / for division. However, there is actually a fifth operator called mod. Mod is represented by a % and a pretty unique operation. When you mod two numbers you are basically dividing the two numbers and finding the remainders. The outcome of the equation will just be the remainder. If this is confusing, don’t worry, I was extremely confused as well, which is why I had to ask for clarification. Since I’m a very visual learner, I mentor if she could explain it in a more visual way. Initially, I was expecting her to show me some equations, but she had a very good visual example prepared.

“So, imagine a circle with points around the circumference, kind of like a clock. Now for an example, lets get the equation, 2 % 12. The second number, 12 represents how many points there are around the circle.”

“Then, the first number basically represents how many steps you’re going to take around the circle, starting from zero. In our example, the first number is two, so if we take two steps from zero, we land on two. So the answer to 2 % 12 is 2.”

“Now, let’s take a more complicated example using the same diagram. Let’s go with… 17 % 12. Since the second number is still 12, the number of points around the circle stays the same. However, this time, we will take 17 steps from zero. So, if you take 17 steps from zero, you will lap around once, and then land on five. So, the answer to 17 % 12 is five.”

Thanks to this excellent example from my mentor, I was finally able to understand it well, and even have a really good understanding about how it works.

Now, the expansions on the cin and cout functions weren’t exactly as important or as exciting, so I’ll skip over it for now since I’ve dragged this long enough. Overall, our meeting looked very much like a one on on lecture style learning. There was very little hands on (evidently shown through the lack of media on this post) as we focused more on understanding the concepts on a deeper level. Much like this post’s chapter in How to have a beautiful mind, this week’s meeting had a heavy focus on listening. In my opinion, my mentor was an excellent teacher this week as she constantly checked in, making sure that I understood each and every concept to the extent she did. She had the answers to my questions prepared before I had even asked, and her explanations were so thorough that I rarely had to interject with any questions. This week especially showed how beneficial it can be to just listen.

Thanks for dropping by today to visit my blog post! I promise that next week will be a lot more exciting with an actual program heading its way to completion. So until next time, plus ultra.


In Depth Post 1: Coding

Hello! This is MJ, and as In depth starts up again, I have chosen to learn another skill this year. You may or may not remember that last year, I had decided to learn how to play the trumpet. So for this year, I decided to try learning a new skill that has nothing to do with music. So, for In depth, I will be learning coding.


To go into more detail, I’ll be learning how to code in the language of C. This will include learning the different functions and code in this specific language, as well as how to apply them in certain situations. I will also learn how to spot errors in my code and to efficiently fix them. Then after I have learned all of the basics, I will be taught how to put together all these different aspects and create simple programs.


So, why did I choose to learn coding? Well, for a few years now, coding has been a skill that I have been wanting to learn, but have never successfully been able to. Coding has so many different applications today whether it’s robotics, communications, or basic entertainment like games. I have seen what code is able to do through videos on Youtube, and just by simply playing a few games. Through these different mediums, I started to become super interested in robotics and game design, and since learning code is the first basic step towards these goals, I soon developed a want to learn coding. In order to reach my goal, I had tried to teach myself coding on three separate occasions, but during all three occasions, I ended up overwhelming myself with too much, then giving up. Soon after, I had tried asking my friends to teach me, but due to the fact that they were not exactly experts in the field, I was unable to learn much from them. I had soon come to realize that in order to learn coding, I needed to have a proper mentor to teach me. Then, In depth rolled along this year, and I had realized how perfect this opportunity was, so I decided to grab hold of it, and here we are now.


My mentor this year is someone who I had just recently met online through a friend of mine over the summer. Her name is Khrystianne (KC for short) and she’s currently an engineer student in university. As a part of her course, she learns coding and has lots of experience with it. So, this year, she has been kind enough to agree to mentor me for my In depth project.


Although I have yet to formally meet with my mentor due to the fact that she is currently quarantined, we have discussed a little bit about how this year will look. My mentor has so far mentioned that she has many small projects that she can teach me like for example, a tic tac toe game. The plan is to learn the functions involved in each project before attempting them, and using the projects as a sort of “test” or an evaluation to see what I do or don’t understand. So, my year will look hopefully look like this:

January – February: I will be using the first few meetings to get familiar with the programming platform and language that we will be using. Soon, I will be learning the most basic functions and their applications. This will lead into developing my first simple preplanned program.

March: This time will be used for learning more advanced code, then soon developing a second basic preplanned program.

April – May: The first few weeks will be used to review while expanding on even more applications of the basic code I had learned previously. Soon after, more complicated functions and code will be introduced and I will be beginning to prepare my final project which will hopefully be made from scratch.

What can we do to help?

Since we have not been able to meet just yet, I have yet to face any obstacles. So, I don’t exactly know what kind of help I will be needing. However, I have talked to Mike and we have agreed to help each other out at times when our mentors are unable to because we are experts in each other’s In depth projects. Mike’s In depth this year is piano, and my In depth is coding, and it just so happens that I’m skilled in piano, and Mike’s an expert when it comes to coding. Although I believe that our own mentors should be able to help us out instead, when it comes down to it, I will have someone else to consult if I’m having difficulty.


Again, I have yet to have been able to meet with my mentor due to her being quarantined, so we have not been able to have a formal mentorship meeting. However, over a few texts, she has recommended that I begin doing some research while she is being quarantined so that I can start getting comfortable with the programming platform and the language. So far, I have researched a bit about the the coding language, C, and am beginning to have a general idea of what to expect from it.

Developing the Leaders Around You

The law of explosive growth states that to quickly grow the organization, you must multiply instead of adding. What this law is basically saying is that instead of constantly adding new people into your organization, growing the people who are already within the group will help to grow the company a lot faster. Adding new people into the group may increase the amount of people within the company, but you can only add so much until you either run out of space, or run out of people to lead them. However, if you instead focus on growing the people within the company into new leaders, then they will naturally attract more leaders and followers into the organization, thus growing the company a lot more. I chose this principle because this one really stuck out to me during the presentations. I had never really thought of growing an organization in this way, but when I thought about it, it made a ton of sense to me. For example, last year, during the planning for Night of The Notables, I remember being in a committee that had way too many people. It became difficult to delegate tasks, and many people were not even doing anything. So, if that were to be a real company setting, that company would be wasting a lot of money hiring people, simply to have them sit around and do nothing all day. So, in future event planning, instead of trying to get more outside help, I think I will focus more on developing the people within the group instead.


Leaders can make things happen. There are generally four types of people who affect the momentum of a project or a task. First, there are momentum breakers; they tend to stop the momentum. Then, there are momentum takers; they tend to slow; or sap momentum. There are also momentum fakers; they stage momentum and tend to pretend to be doing work that they really are not. Finally, there are momentum makers; they tend to be leaders who start momentum, and make big events or accomplishments happen. In a team, or an organization, you want to mostly have momentum makers since they are usually leaders, and get tasks done. Momentum breakers, and momentum takers are easy to recognize, and are people you do not want on your team. On the other hand, momentum fakers are hard to spot, and tend to go unnoticed. However, in a professional situation where you are paying people to be on your team, you do not want momentum fakers on your team since it will end up being a waste of money. The reason I chose this topic was because this process reminded me of myself. Last year, I was mostly a faker for most of the event planning. I never really volunteered to try new tasks, so I ended up being left behind as an extra who did not really have much to do. However, I decided this year that I did not want to keep being a faker, so I stepped up to a lot more opportunities to develop into a momentum maker. This year, I don’t want any of the grade 9s to become momentum fakers like I did, so I’m trying to push many of the more quiet people to contribute to more tasks, and opportunities so that they have an easier time developing into momentum makers.


John C Maxwell states that it is easier to teach what is right than to do what is right. By this, he is saying that your actions and your words must be the same when you are teaching another person. For example, if you say that a good leader needs to contribute, but do not contribute ideas yourself, the people you are teaching will be heavily confused oh which to follow. However, since people tend to follow what they see rather than doing what they hear, they tend to follow the bad examples set by their mentors. John Maxwell has a very good analogy for this. He says that there are two types of leaders, the travel agent, and the tour guide. On one hand, the travel agent sends people to places that they themselves have not been to before. They can give standard advice before your trip, but once you are on your trip, they do not help you. On the other hand, the tour guide assists you on your trip the entire way. They know exactly what they are getting you into, and they know the perfect restaurants, hotels, and landmarks to bring you to. The reason I chose this concept was because this concept was a topic that I struggled with just a bit. I tend not to assign tasks that I do not fully understand myself, but sometimes, I end up being the travel agent, where I give advice in the beginning, but I’m unable to follow through and assist them during the task. In the future, I will try to be like the tour guide, and assign tasks that I know well enough where I am able to assist them the entire way through.


There are 6 questions that a mentor and the apprentice must answer to find out if they will have an effective learning environment. The apprentice must ask whether the mentor can do what is required, and if they will do what is required. The mentor must ask whether the apprentice has had proper experience, and if he or she has modeled excellence. Finally, they will both have to ask whether they are compatible, and if there is any mutual respect. By answering these questions, both parties can find out if they will form an effective relationship. If only the mentor answers yes to their questions, while the apprentice does not, the apprentice will not learn much from their mentorship. The same will apply for the mentor if only the apprentice answers no. If either of them answers no to the last two questions, neither of them will be willing to listen to the other, which forms a very ineffective relationship. So, in order to answer yes to all of these questions, you will need to either find a mentor that fits your needs, or gain more experience, and work harder in order to fit their needs. The reason I chose this topic was because it reminded me of my in-depth mentorship from last year. My mentor and I were successfully able to form an effective relationship that led to fast, and efficient learning. For future TALONS trips, I will strive to be able to teach what is required and become a successful mentor by gaining more experience and knowledge in order to ensure that my apprentice can say yes to all of the questions.


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,


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!


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.



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~