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.
- 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.
- 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!