Liam’s Grade 10 In-Depth Post #3

Since my last post, I’ve created two different visual copies of my song, made some major modifications to the music, and met with my mentor twice. In this post, I’ll be elaborating on my progress as well as answering both the questions for this post and the questions I missed from the previous post. Get ready for one lengthy post.

The weekend after the previous post, I wrote out my music on paper. In an off-block a few days after that, I took out my sheet music and composed 8 more bars of music, bringing my total bar count to 16. The second group of 8 bars was very similar to the first 8 bars, but provided a musical “answer” to the first group’s “question”. I realized that writing my music out didn’t just give me a visual representation; it gave me a way to edit my music at school (I can only use Logic when at home). Additionally, I found that it was far easier to tweak a written note on paper than to record a whole new version of an entire instrument’s part.

A day or so later, I met with my mentor again to discuss the four questions I’d missed last post as well as the new written-out copy of my song. The answers to the questions will be at the end of the post. When I showed my mentor the written-out copy of my song, he suggested that I make a “master score”, which is a sheet of music showing all the parts (instruments) together.

My mentor had suggested using a program called Musescore, but I decided to go with a similar program called Noteflight that I’d used for composing in the past. I copied my music out onto Noteflight and started experimenting. I got a bit carried away, but that ended up being a very good thing. I changed my 2nd trumpet part into a Trombone part, and added an Alto Sax part that played a really cool counter-melody. I also changed around a bunch of notes to make certain chords work better. The result, while quite “computer generated sound-y”, was really good in my opinion. 

Here’s the current version of my composition. I’ll make it sound more realistic later. There’s also a hint of what I may be planning  in terms of a “B section”…

I met with my mentor again that Wednesday, and showed him my master score. I also let him listen to the song I’d created, and he was very impressed. He told me that we probably wouldn’t need to meet again for a couple of weeks, but that he had some ideas of what I could do next. He said I could start working on a B section for my composition, begin adding articulation and dynamics, add some embellishments in my percussion and bass sections, or come up with a title for my piece. That’s what I plan to do over the next few weeks.

 

Here are three questions (with sub-questions) from Ms. Mulder’s post for this week.

  1. What went particularly well during your mentoring sessions?

To be honest, pretty much everything. I showed my progress, my mentor gave me advice on how to proceed, and anything else that had to be cleared up was dealt with quickly. I can’t pinpoint one thing in particular because things just went smoothly in general.

2. What relationship challenges did you face? Were you communicating effectively with one another? Were you candid and open in your communication? Did you take care to check out assumptions with each other? Were you actually listening to each other?

I don’t recall having any particularly large relationship challenges, if there were any at all. I’d say we were communicating quite effectively with each other. Whenever I didn’t quite catch something, I asked my mentor to repeat his statement as I wrote down the advice so I wouldn’t forget. I also double-checked with my mentor after writing things down to make sure I wasn’t misunderstanding anything and to confirm the reasons behind the advice I was given.

3. What learning challenges emerged? What did you do to hold yourselves accountable for the learning?

Since I have lots of experience in music, I caught on to what my mentor was teaching me very quickly. I don’t recall having any learning challenges as of this point in the project. I’m not entirely sure how my mentor is supposed to hold himself accountable for the learning, other than being able to provide advice when I need it and giving me tips for the way forward. What I’m doing to hold myself accountable for my learning is showing my mentor the latest version of my project at each meeting to ensure that I make progress in between each meeting.

 

Here are the answers to the four questions from the previous meeting.

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

My mentor gained his expertise through many years of practicing. He’s been playing music since he was four, and his parents are both professional musicians. He also does a lot of music-related activities outside of school, such as doing gigs and working with two different choirs. His experience in composing came from a lot of trial and error. He kept composing, seeing what worked and what didn’t work, and gained a lot of experience. While the vast majority of the experience came from his own experimentation, he also got some of his experience through advice from other composers.

2. What were those experiences like for your mentor?

The experience of learning music and composing feels pretty normal to him. He’s spent his entire life surrounded by musicians, and he’s been playing music from a very young age. Music is what he does.

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

My mentor has shown me that keeping a written/sheet music copy of a piece of music is very useful, as it gives me the ability to analyze the music more closely and see the work I’m doing as well as hear it. He’s also told me that making a “master score” (a sheet with all the written parts) is good for letting me see the whole picture together.

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

One thing I’ve learned in terms of strategies I could use as a mentor is that advice should generally be given in a friendly and encouraging tone. What I mean by this is that instead of saying “you need to” or “you should” like I have a habit of doing, it’s usually better to say “you could”, “you might want to”, or something like that. It turns the advice from being an obligation to being a cool new thing to try out; from being another thing taking up time to an interesting way to spend time. In a similar vein, I’ve also learned that a mentor often shouldn’t act as if they’re “in charge” too much. Granted, if the mentee isn’t making much progress and isn’t taking the mentor’s advice, the mentor has the duty to take charge more and give the mentee a stronger push in the right direction. But one thing I’ve noticed with Ben in particular is that a slightly more “equal” relationship between mentor and mentee has made me (the mentee) feel more comfortable working with my mentor. This sort of relates to the previous point in that the mentee feels less like they’re being bossed around, and more like they’re being helped and guided through their obstacle.

 

Well, that’s it for this post. As always, expect progress!

Liam’s Grade 10 In-Depth Post #2

It’s been two weeks since my first post, and progress has been made! Since there was a “reading break” (a week off school between semesters), I’ve had a lot of time to work on my project. I chose to spend this time learning more about my program of choice: Logic Pro X. I took an online course that taught me all the basic functions and main areas of Logic, as well as how to use them. The course didn’t get into too much detail with some of the more complicated areas, but I still feel very confident in my ability to use the program correctly and effectively enough for my project.

For each different section of the course, I created a short bit of music to test my new skills on. However, something odd happened: the bits of music were actually good! I quickly became sidetracked, trying to create harmonies and bears. Before I knew it, I’d created a good musical idea. So I’ve already started composing before I planned on starting!

I met with my mentor on Wednesday at lunch, which I think will be our go-to “meeting time”. I told him that I learned the basics of Logic Pro X, and that I’d already created a basic song idea. He said I was off to a great start, but he also said that in addition to using Logic to create my music, I should write the music out on paper and create a visual representation of my work. This paper copy is a format better suited to analyzing my music, and will help me get more out of the musical content I already have. With a bit of back-and-forth suggesting, my mentor and I agreed that using the auditory capabilities of Logic together with a written visual representation is probably the most effective way I can tweak and edit my music at this point.

My next steps will be writing out the music I have, as well as continuing to expand on my existing musical idea and creating new musical ideas I could potentially use in the future. I’ll probably do a slight amount of tweaking and editing as well.

And then we come to the assigned questions. I will admit that I didn’t make my mentor aware of these guidelines. I’ll make sure to cover them next meeting. I did read the post beforehand, but I sort of skimmed it. I just assumed I’d be able to go through the meeting without bringing it up and then answering the questions after, but apparently I was wrong; however, seeing as how I need to answer them at some point, I’ll probably organize an extra meeting to answer them.

Before I end this post, I’d like to make a progress update on my “flat pitch MIDI keyboard” situation. This may get lengthy. First of all, a few days after I “fixed” the problem, it came back. I found out that the update wasn’t what solved the problem the first time; it was the restart that did it. So now I know that I need to restart the computer to fix the problem. I also know what causes this problem: using the pitch bender wheel on the keyboard. The pitch bender wheel can be rotated out from the centre, and snaps back to the middle when released. Well, for some odd reason, moving the pitch bender wheel on my keyboard at all will cause the “middle” pitch to instantly become half a semitone flat. I don’t know why it does that, but I’ll be sure to put the reason in a future post if I ever find out.

Well, that’s all I’ve got for now. I’m probably going to be saying this a lot, but expect progress!

Romeo’s Myers-Briggs Test

When I took the Myers-Briggs test and filled out the answers according to my knowledge of Romeo’s personality, I came out with the result that Romeo’s personality type is ENFP: the “Campaigner”. He got 53:47 Extrovert to Introvert, 71:29 iNtuitive to obServant, 74:26 Feeling to Thinking, and 61:39 Perceiving to Judging.

The Campaigner profile states that Campaigners “tend to see life as a big, complex puzzle where everything is connected – but unlike Analyst personality types, who tend to see that puzzle as a series of systemic machinations, Campaigners see it through a prism of emotion, compassion and mysticism, and are always looking for a deeper meaning.” (16personalities.com). When Romeo says that “[his] mind misgives some consequence, yet hanging in the stars” (1.4.107–8), he shows that he believes in fate and dreams. Furthermore, he says this directly after Mercutio tells him that dreams and fate don’t mean anything. Through this, Romeo demonstrates that his outlook of life is based more on emotion and romance rather than hard facts and logic – an outlook very similar to the one described in the Campaigner profile.

Another connection to Romeo’s personality can be found in the “Romantic Relationships” section of the Campaigner profile. It states that “Campaigners go all-in with their relationships, and if they fall apart despite their efforts, they can end up plagued with questions about why the relationship failed […] without a buoy, these thoughts can crush Campaigners’ self-esteem as they sink into depression” (16personalities.com). Romeo exhibits this characteristic when he says “[Rosaline] hath forsworn to love, and in that vow do I live dead that live to tell it now” (1.1.220–1). He’s saying that by losing the opportunity for romantic love with Rosaline, he has lost his own reason to live, and is therefore feeling very depressed. Because 16 Personalities’ description of the depression Campaigners experience at the end of a romantic relationship accurately describes Romeo’s own depression after Rosaline’s vow of chastity, the idea that Romeo has a Campaigner personality is quite reasonable.

16 Personalities ENFP Main Info

16 Personalities ENFP Romantic Relationships Page

Romeo and Juliet Act 2 – Blog Response

After reading Jindra Kulich’s article about Romeo and Juliet not being “infatuated children” engaging in “puppy love”, I’d have to say that for the most part, I agree with her point. An example showing why Romeo and Juliet aren’t both “infatuated children” comes when Lady Capulet asks Juliet: “How stands your disposition to be married?”, reminding her that “younger than [her], here in Verona, ladies of esteem, are made already mothers” (Act 1 Scene 3). This shows that despite the fact that Juliet isn’t quite 14 yet, her parents already treat her like an adult and not like an infatuated child. As for why Romeo and Juliet aren’t simply engaging in “puppy love”, there is an example in their famous balcony scene. When Romeo attempts to swear his love like the romantic he is, Juliet initially refuses, and takes a more mindful, cautious approach. She says that exchanging their promises would be “too rash, too unadvised, too sudden”, and that she’s concerned that their love may be “too like the lightning, which doth cease to be ere one can say ‘it lightens'”. She still loves Romeo, but she believes that “this bud of love […] may prove a beauteous flower when next [they] meet” (Act 2 Scene 2). This shows that instead of rushing in head-first, Juliet treats her love with Romeo as something that is still a bud, which may bloom in the future. In fact, she is constantly watching out to make sure that their love is more than a flash of lightning; she is actively avoiding puppy love!

For the second point, I believe Kulich’s argument about Romeo and Juliet not being “children” is very effective at proving its main point, but has a few major flaws in its side points. When proving her main point that Romeo and Juliet should not be viewed as children, she brings up personal experiences and historical facts as evidence. For instance, she writes about how when she was 14, she “had to go to work and assume [her] responsibilities, while only a relatively few privileged children went to secondary school and were allowed to remain children longer”. This is both effective and informative. However… there are a lot of things that bug me about her final statement that “The recent extension of childhood into late teens […] came only after the Second World War as children were sequestered longer and longer in schools and away from real life.” The reason why this statement bothers me is due to the concept of teenagers. Throughout the entire article, she continues to refer to teenagers as “children”, and writes about high schools and the teenage years in a “back in my day” kind of tone that feels a bit condescending. Additionally, her statement that the “extension of childhood” came “only after the Second World War” may not be entirely accurate. “Although the word teenager did not come into use until decades later, the teenage mindset dawned in the 1920s” (ushistory.org).  The word teenager was invented in 1944, as shown in time.com. This shows that she’s correct in some areas, and not quite correct in others, further proving my point.

 

This last bit here isn’t part of the assignment; it’s a side note showing one final thought. Unlike Juliet, Romeo does seem to act more like an infatuated child engaging in puppy love. Friar Laurence notices this, and warns Romeo about this very thing, but Romeo sort of ignores him. Juliet’s actions point towards Kulich’s point, while Romeo’s actions almost point the opposite way. The article, in my opinion, is half-correct in many different ways.

ushistory.org

time.com

 

 

Liam’s Grade 10 In-Depth Post #1

A new In-Depth project means a new topic. This year, I’ll be focusing on composing. More specifically, I will be composing a piece of music using the program “Logic Pro X”.

I chose this topic for a great number of reasons. First and foremost, I have a lot of experience with both playing analyzing music. Second, I’ve already composed a few pieces. They were really short, and I composed them when I was in early elementary school, but they were surprisingly good considering my age. Because of this, I know I have some potential in composing, and I want to learn how to use that potential to its fullest during the course of this project. Third, I decided to get Logic and a MIDI keyboard over the summer because I was interested in composing. I knew that if I did composing for In-Depth, I’d already have the necessary equipment at my disposal. Last but not least, I just want to have fun.

My mentor is Benjamin Sigerson, a Grade 11 TALONS alumnus. He’s an amazing musician, as well as a really fun guy. He also goes to Gleneagle, so I can literally meet up with him at lunch. However, the main reason I chose him as my mentor was because last year, he composed a piece called “Caribou” that I played with the junior concert band. I’d already been considering doing composing for this year’s In-Depth at the time, and when I saw that he’d composed Caribou, I immediately put him on my internal list of potential mentors.

I haven’t started work on the project just yet, however I do have a single progress update to make: I fixed a problem with my keyboard/computer/recording equipment. A few weeks ago, I found that when I hooked up my MIDI keyboard to the computer and played a middle C, the resulting sound was a very sharp B. No matter what I tried, it wouldn’t change. After calling in my grandpa to take a look at it last weekend (to no avail), I decided to take a break and update the computer while I was at it. One update later, everything worked fine.

I have the next week off. I plan to spend it learning as much as I can about Logic as I can, because the less stuff I have do during “AprilMayJune”, the better.

Well, that’s it for this post. Expect progress!

Grade 10 ZIP Document of Learning #4

In this document of learning, I will be answering the following question: “Describe the ups and downs you have encountered to date in your inquiry. Specifically, when you were frustrated or struggling in your inquiry, what did you do to address the situation?”

My answer to this question is kind of odd. At the start, things went well; the research was coming along smoothly. While it was admittedly taking longer than I’d expected, I still finished the research at a manageable time. Immediately afterwards, I came across another problem: I had no idea what to write about. Since I was already short on time, I thought of coming up with a story topic as a waste of valuable time. I overcame this obstacle by writing a story I already knew about; a real-life story about something that had happened to me. With that, I began writing. Things went pretty well… until I inevitably got to “the bit where I have no idea how to word things”. To solve that, I asked my parents for suggestions. When they offered a suggestion, I used it, putting my own personal spin on it. I also used the suggestions in other parts of the story where I thought they’d be beneficial. After that, things went pretty smoothly again.

My main approach when I encounter a major problem in writing is to ask for help and try to take as much away from that help as possible. It works well, as I often learn more from my mistakes if I know what I should do in a given situation, not just what I shouldn’t.

Well, that’s pretty much it. I’ve just finished my short story, and I’ve learned a few things on the way. Hopefully, my final presentation goes well!

Grade 10 ZIP Document of Learning #3

The question I have chosen to answer in this blog post is: “Related to your learning evidence, what have you done to make retrieving information easier or more effective in class?”

To be honest, the answer is pretty simple: Bring a laptop and a book. Having a laptop with me is great because I can access information found on the internet and put it in a document without having to deal with the limitations of a phone’s small screen. Even without the internet, a laptop is useful just for note-taking purposes alone. As well as a laptop, bringing a book is also effective. Recently, I’ve started using books as sources for inquiry projects such as this one. I gotta say: reading a book (especially an entertaining one) is a really fun way to spend a work block – and it’s quite productive, if you’re using it as a source! It’s certainly easier to focus on research when the source is fun to read, though I do have to be careful not to forget to find strategies the author used while reading.

Well, that’s pretty much it. Nothing else to say here, at least nothing I can think of.

Grade 10 ZIP Document of Learning #2

My question for this blog post is: “What is a specific source of information that you have found valuable in answering your inquiry question? How has it proved valuable? Explain.”

One source of information I’ve been using a lot recently is Home from the Vinyl Café, a compilation of short stories by Stuart McLean. It contains examples of the kind of thing I’m going to try and write: humorous short stories. This means I can take inspiration from it when I go to write my own humorous short story for my presentation. It also shows many of the tips I’ve seen on websites in action, giving them a whole new meaning. For example, the story “Dave Cooks the Turkey” provides an example of three different things I could do to make a funny story better. First, it blows up the story’s plot to cosmic proportions while still remaining believable. First Dave gets the last turkey left in the store, then he finds out it’s damaged, and then he drives to a hotel to get them to cook the turkey. However, it all works out in the end. Second, this story also provides an example of a subtle running gag. Whenever something goes wrong, Dave drinks a cup of scotch, which I find pretty funny. Third, it adds a lot of details that aren’t particularly significant to the story itself, but are still relevant, believable, and hilariously human. When Dave unpacks his turkey, he notices that its skin is torn, and that it looks like it died painfully. He begins to “refer to his bird as Butch. He [turns] Butch over and [finds] another slash in the carcass. Perhaps, he [thinks], Butch died in a knife fight.” This naming of inanimate objects is a very human thing to do, and I think it’s a shining example of what I should try in my story writing.

These are just a few of the things I’ve found that I could try. Showing tips is one thing, but showing tips in action is another. This book provides a great model for how humour can effectively be used in writing a short story, and has proved quite valuable in answering my inquiry question. Plus, it’s really fun to read!

Grade 10 ZIP Document of Learning #1

For this blog post, I have chosen to “Provide a copy/image of [my] research notes”, and to ask: “What concepts in [my] learning do [I] now feel [I] have a solid grasp on?”, and “Which ones might be useful to other students in their learning?”

First, I’d like to mention that since this is an account of the two days/one work block I’ve had since creating my proposal, there isn’t going to be much in the way of notes.

Here are my notes.

  • Giving the main character a sense of humour really helps, especially with internal dialogue.
  • This doesn’t mean making the main character the “clown” or the “straight man”. It’s somewhere in between.
  • “Rule of three”: have a list of three things, with either two serious points followed by a funny point or two funny points followed by a serious point.
  • Use metaphors and similes. A lot.
  • If you’re writing about a serious topic and it seems to be getting too serious, add a pinch of humour to break things up a bit.
  • Don’t let humour obstruct your storytelling.
  • Avoid clichés, unless you plan on modifying them to catch your readers by surprise.
  • Use surprise to your advantage.
  • Turn the plot and conflict up into overdrive and make it larger than life.
  • Put actual meaning behind the jokes. Don’t make jokes just for the sake of making jokes. Have a reason for them, and try not to force humour.
  • Make sure you find it funny before adding it.
  • Try hiding a blatant, honest, everyday truth in jokes.
  • Use funny-sounding synonyms for words.
  • If you’re going to make fun of anyone, make fun of yourself – and be obvious about it.

I may not use all of these notes in my final project, but I’m definitely gonna use some.

I now think I have a solid grasp on how to add humour to short stories, as well as how (and when) not to add humour. I also feel like I have a better understanding of what kinds of humour work in different situations.

If anyone else is also doing writing (creative or non-fiction), I think a few points would be helpful to them. Adding a well-placed bit of humour into any piece of writing helps keep the readers interested. If anyone is wondering about how to add said humour, try using the “rule of three”. If you’re doing creative writing, try giving your main character a sense of humour. It’ll probably make people like your character more, and it can lead to some brilliant lines of dialogue, whether internal or external. However, for any piece of writing, remember not to overdo or force humour. It should come as naturally as possible.

That’s pretty much it for this blog post. Stay tuned for the next one!

Liam Northcott Grade 10 ZIP Project Proposal

My question is: “In what ways might humour be a benefit or a detriment to a short story?”

It connects to the big idea “Creative writers take risks and persevere”, and to the curricular competencies “Respond to text in personal, creative, and critical ways”, “Use writing and design processes to plan, develop, and create engaging and meaningful texts for a variety of purposes and audiences”, and “Transform ideas and information to create original texts”.

I chose this question partially because I wanted an excuse to write a short story with humour for ZIP. One of my absolute favourite projects in middle school was to write a short story with a few pre-determined, quirky characters, and to just go ham with it. I ended up creating a 6 or so page long story (way longer than it needed to be) that was interesting, humorous, and an absolute blast to write. That’s why I want to do this – not just out of interest, but out of wanting to have fun.

From the aforementioned project and several books I’ve read, I’ve learned several things that work well, such as putting a silly quirk on a serious character, making the villain entertaining, having the heroes resolve the conflict in a very creative (and utterly ridiculous) way, and having the main character be the “straight man”. However, I’ve also learned that going overboard on humour and silly things can completely ruin the story and make it feel more weird than funny. I also know that there needs to be some weight to the story to balance out the humour – or add to it. There was one book I read that had quite a “dark” story, many “dark” concepts, and plenty of dark humour. It approached the horrible situation the characters were in with a tone that poked fun at how ridiculously bad the conditions in the story were, to great effect.

By the end of this project, I hope to know when and how to use humour in short stories. I also want to be able to see how others use humour in short stories, and what makes it work.

I can approach my parents, my teacher, and maybe even my classmates for support during my work and research.

Some other resources that might be useful would be the internet and other short stories. I could look things up to find information on them, and by studying other short stories for their use of humour, I will probably learn a lot about how the masters use it.

My final presentation will most likely take the form of me reading a part of (or all of) the story out loud to the class. I might also note the bits of humour as I read them.

Here’s a calendar of a schedule I will follow, changing it up along the way if I need to. These dates include both the work blocks and the days leading up to them.

  • Dec. 8: Research humour in short stories
  • Dec. 11: Read other short stories and take notes on how they utilize humour
  • Dec. 15: Start working on short story, take a few more notes if needed
  • Dec. 18: Finish short story or start work or do a new short story if I gain a brilliant spark of inspiration
  • Dec. 22: Finish story if needed, do lots of editing/proofreading, note bits of humour in story.
  • Late Christmas break: Look at story again, try to remember everything so I can present
  • After Christmas break: Present!