Gettier Example


One hypothetical Gettier-type example where the same knowledge is arrived at through different justifications is the propositional claim that good pianists or musicians make good mathematicians. I may believe in this because every pianist around my age that I know is good at mathematics. In this case, I am generalizing about piano players from a handful of examples that constitute all my knowledge on the subject.


A more reliable method of justifying this knowledge claim is to have empirical evidence or research to back the data. Not only is the data more likely to be a larger sample size than mine and thus more accurate in showing trends and correlation, the methodology and measurements involved are more likely to be accurate as well. So to an extent, empirical evidence is more objective than an individual’s observations. and therefore more reliable.


The knowledge claim being made here could be considered a great generality statement and therefore can be proven through relatively objective means. However, for a more subjective statement like “Freddie Mercury is the best”, for example, it is much more difficult to argue that there is a more or less reliable justification, like pitch range vs. good looks, since the knowledge claim itself is quite subjective. This holds true for other statements, such as universal statements or ethical statements. This raises the possibility that some knowledge claims are intrinsically impossible to be justified true beliefs because they cannot be justified from an objective perspective.


In the process of pondering the Gettier problem, I thought, “Is it possible for a justification to prove two different, even contradictory beliefs and would those beliefs be considered Justified True Beliefs?” Take interpretations of religious texts. In many cases, different sects or denominations have different beliefs based on the same religious text, like contradictory Sunni and Shia beliefs about Muhammad’s successors being elected by consensus and through bloodline, respectively. This is a gray area because unlike most untestable or universal statements regarding faith, there is a tangible text that potentially corroborates both beliefs. By synthesizing this example with the Gettier’s original clock example, it is possible that justifications are fallible because our ways of knowing are fallible. In Gettier’s example, Gettier’s sense perception and intuition about the time on the clock “incorrectly” justify his knowledge claim, and in the Sunni and Shia example the fallibility of language leads to justifications of contradictory knowledge claims.


Types of Personal Knowledge

This year I joined the volleyball team despite having little playing experience and knowing that I would have a minor role. Although not my main goal,  I joined partly to gain personal knowledge by acquaintance about the perspective of a bench/role player through emotion and sense perception. Now I understand the various difficulties of being a bench player on a personal level, such as how difficult it is to to feel responsible for/significant in the outcome of the game or to feel as if the coach’s advice and motivation during breaks in the action is addressed to you. I have also gained practical knowledge about how to act as a bench player, which entails shouting encouragement and support from the bench until your voice resembles a frog.

Aside from becoming a better or more positive bench player myself, I hope to utilize my newly gained personal knowledge as productive knowledge for the basketball season this year. I expect a relatively large role on the team this year and so I believe I can support the bench players and foster an environment where they have a sense of significance and impact on the game. Even though it may be easier said than done, there are several methods like reciprocating the bench’s enthusiasm, showing they are appreciated and that we are a cohesive unit.

It is not as if I wasn’t aware of a fundamental difference between having a starting spot and spending most of the time on the bench. However, this was mostly through intuition or reasoning and was not really internalized. This experience has shown me that there are many valid ways of knowing. Even though reasoning and intuition may seem more credible and more objective, emotion led to a stronger sense of understanding even though the knowledge involved is the same. Ways of knowing differ greatly in terms of objectivity/subjectivity and my volleyball stint has shown that ways of knowing are not necessarily inferior or superior to each other and raises ideas about whether ways of knowing have different functions that are more suitable for some situations than others.



After considering Korn’s question of whether we really care if our beliefs are true or not, I realized there are many ways to approach the question and many potential knowledge questions to take away from it. The knowledge question that I have decided on is “Are beliefs more subjective than objective?”


Well, it is easy to establish that there is at least some level of subjectivity in beliefs. The definition of belief that we have defined in the course clearly states that belief is a “feeling that something exists or is true.” As for determining objectivity, I reference “The Nature of Truth” (Bob Korn). The article gives examples of several different statements and how true those statements can be. The statements or categories mentioned can also be applied to beliefs. The first three statements (a historical, specific detail, and great generality/scientific statement) are the more objective, whereas the three other statements (A taste, untestable, and moral/ethical statement) are more subjective. As the statements increase in subjectivity, I found that they became more belief-based as well. You wouldn’t consider the fact that the football game starts at 1:00 a “belief” in the sense that we are talking about, but saying that “we are one with the universe” or that “stealing is wrong” are more clearly beliefs.  


The author goes on to say that for each of the three subjective statements there is a distinct lack of evidence or measurability that make the statements subjective in the first place. With the untestable statement like “we are one with the universe”, there is no possible objective information to support that. With taste/preferences and moral/ethical statements, there can be some degree of objectivity (e.g. who can sing the higher notes), but ultimately there is no way to reach a conclusion based on objective information alone.


With all of this in mind, I would argue that beliefs are highly subjective and tend to be less objective.  Relating this back to Bob Korn’s original statement, the idea that beliefs are subjective suggests that we do not really care if our beliefs are true. This is not only because beliefs by their subjective nature are hard to prove or corroborate, but that beliefs, if they are subjective, are less about being accurate and more about being personalized.

(Max: 350 Words)


TOK: Talmud Statement “We see the world, not as it is but as we are.”

“We see the world, not as it is but as we are.”

Even though this statement is from a religious text, it is applicable to everyday life and certainly not limited to religious affairs. By my interpretation, this adage addresses how everyone’s perspective or perception of the world is based entirely on our lens (which we discussed in class) that is comprised of language, sense perception, emotion, reason, imagination, faith, intuition, and memory. Specifically, these truths or knowledge that we glean from the world around us reflect our personal lenses and our biases.

One of the best examples of this is shooting incidents in America. When a deranged man opens fire with a firearm and kills innocent people, a gun control advocate would see it as a telltale example of a dangerous man legally obtaining a weapon that he should not have been able to purchase and possess. On the other hand, a gun rights activist would only find more evidence that innocent people need guns to protect themselves against criminals and terrorists as is guaranteed to them under the U.S. constitution.

Even though these hypothetical people are looking at the exact same reality, they come to starkly different conclusions despite using the same components of their lenses. By this I mean that despite the fact that both people use reason, for example, the advocate would cite constitutional rights as a reason to possess guns while the activist would cite firearm death statistics as a reason to increase gun control measures. Biases are also reflected in this hypothetical. Both are clearly affected by their confirmation bias, which is evident because both selectively use or focus on the information that strengthens or reinforces their views that they already had. Neglecting probability bias is also evident in the case of the gun rights activist. The high probability of dying due to a firearm, especially accidentally, dwarfs that of terrorist attacks, which are scary and frightening.

Although I do believe that personal lenses are based on a distinct individual identity, a substantial part of the personal lens is shaped by the type of environment or way of thinking people are surrounded by, especially during young age when we tend to be more impressionable.  

Assuming that the Talmud statement is true, is it a positive or negative phenomenon? Well, I would argue that it is both positive and negative. The negatives are obvious: we become restricted to a certain way of thinking and due to this cannot comprehend or impartially consider knowledge and arguments that do not mesh well with our personal lenses. This leads to a narrower scope of knowledge and perspective. On the other hand, if we were to somehow rid ourselves of our personal lens, we would lose a key way of establishing a sense of self. Also, without some filtering or resistance of knowledge then we would too readily accept any knowledge, and people’s propensity to “stick to their guns” and defend their positions can lead to refinement and attainment of new knowledge.


Media Fair Reflection


As the wrap-up to the final unit of the YIS 10th grade English curriculum, Mr.Kew’s and Ms.Cox’s classrooms hosted the 2015 Media Fair on a pleasant May 4th. Each student created a poster analyzing five text types related to a topic of their choice and presented it to peers from both classrooms. A wide variety of topics were covered, from fast food to same-sex marriage to nuclear power, as well as a variety of text types: commercials, posters, documentaries and memes to name a few. Through the Media Fair, the students were able to develop awareness and understanding of how different types of media can portray the exact same topic in a myriad of ways.


The following are three posters from the Media Fair:




Masaki’s poster focused on metro systems. Some of the media Masaki chose were related to train safety measures and concerns, such as a photo depicting noise pollution and the famous video “Dumb Ways to Die” which was sending the message to train riders to be careful about going on the tracks. Other media included a commercial for a train pass, an online article from a travel magazine about the horrors of navigating the Japanese metro system, and posters advocating for good on-train etiquette. Masaki came to the conclusion that media types can be utilized to have a very positive effect, like raising awareness of the safety and health concerns of metro systems.






Kai’s poster covered a trending topic especially controversial in America: firearms. Three of his sources were against the possession and use of firearms, including a touching video about a gun shop intentionally filled with guns from shooting incidents, a hilarious parody advertising guns, and a to-the-point poster listing handgun deaths in various countries. Kai thought that each approach was effective in its own way and, when consolidated in the mind of the audience, forms a pretty convincing argument against firearms. Because of the various media he analyzed, Kai says he has a much stronger opinion on firearms and gun control than before.





Ren’s poster was centered on the sports brand Adidas and its various mediums of advertising. Techniques such as creating adidas-related art, having famous athletes as the focal point of their commercials, and using social media all proved to Ren that Adidas, like many large companies, has utilized an arsenal of different mediums to advertise effectively.

P.E. Dance Lesson and Reflection


Criteria A – The AimThe two main aims of this dance is to show the relationship between the dance moves and the music as well as to improve rhythm-keeping skills.As music students, Yongwon and I both think that our music experience has helped us tremendously in this dance unit. By highlighting the relationship between the music and the dance, the others in the dance will be able to reap the same benefits that we did. Some of the benefits include timing the dance moves with the knowledge/awareness of the rhythm and understanding the expression of a song and reflecting it in the dance. This is why the first aim of the lesson is to show and teach the relationship between dance and music so that the students develop an understanding of the bigger picture and to treat them as separate elements.The specific aspect of the music that we will then focus on, and the second aim of the lesson, is rhythm. Rhythm is one of the core aspects of both music and dance. Without an understanding of rhythm, timing the dance moves correctly and synchronizing with fellow dancers is incredibly difficult. This only becomes more pronounced as the difficulty and speed of the various movements increase. By focusing on rhythm, especially from a more musical perspective, the music/rhythm can be a helpful tool for learning the dance quicker and improving various aspects of the dance like precision and synchronization. This is why we have not only chosen rhythm-keeping as the second aim of the dance but also have chosen precision and synchronization as our essential elements.Instead of just being able to dance with precision and synchronization, we wanted to have a way of enhancing the overall dance through the honing of precision and synchronization. Since the other essential elements, like style and flair, have much to do with confidence levels and other factors, we chose use of space as our third essential element. This is because precision and synchronization are the two main factors that determine the effectiveness of using space. As long as everyone is in-sync and on time, using space can effectively increase the overall impact of the dance and is more attention-grabbing.Many different IP skills will be tested during this lesson. Since there is a lot of partners and groups involved in this lesson, it is important for each student to be involved in their groups – sharing ideas, encouraging others, etc. For those who are unfamiliar and/or struggle with the topic, they may have to clarify ideas or information with others to make sure that they understand what is going on.

     As teachers, we have to focus on enunciating clearly and projecting our voices because we are unused to the teacher role. We also have to be observant and know, by gauging the students’ understanding, knowing when to elaborate or reword an explanation of something. The overall pacing of the lesson will be important as there are many different ability levels in the class.


Criteria B – Planning your Lesson
We are going to plan our lesson based on a dance routine for “Black and Yellow” by Wiz Khalifa.Precision, Synchronisation, Use of Space

  1. Consider the setup of your lesson
    1. You must include a Warm up (Icebreaker/Dancing Warm-up) (10 minutes)

First, we will briefly describe the various ways music is related to dance, like in dynamics and expression and how those affect the dance.
Then, we will explain and demonstrate the conventional way of counting rhythm, which will start from basic quarter notes and work up to sixteenth notes. Once we explain this rhythm, we will test the whole group’s ability to keep rhythm through call and response. We will use Noteflight, an online music manuscript program, to demonstrate/show the rhythms as they would appear on a music sheet. We will first clap the sample beats and have them clap the beat back in response while counting out loud.

Once they get the basic beats down, we will have them try to clap measures with a mix of notes.
Once we finish our rhythmic exercise, we will then move onto the physical section where we will integrate our knowledge of rhythm with some simple and complex dance moves. We decided to call this “The Dance Battle” to add some competition between each other and motivate them. Everyone will be paired up with someone from an opposite gender where they will create their own 4 beat choreography. But while a group is performing their choreography, the audience is required to shout out the beats as they perform. (in 8th note counts) This is to help develop their precision skills throughout the performance.
When “The Dance Battle” ends, we will have a one minute break then move onto the next section.
Explanation/Justification of Warm-up:

  • Since there are many skill levels in the class, we wanted to start from the very basics and work our way up from there to make sure that no one is left behind. Although clapping is not usually done in dance, it is the easiest way to count rhythm at the start. Using Noteflight gives us flexibility because we can replay the measures any number of times if we feel like we need to go through more slowly.
  • The dance battle comes next so that they can test their new rhythmic skills in a dance setting rather than just a music setting. This is made especially clear by the fact that we want everyone to count the beats while they are doing the dance, further establishing the connection. The dancers themselves learn to “clap” or count the rhythm with their dance moves instead of clapping their hands together, which is the ultimate goal


Pair 1: Touko and Gen

Pair 2: Rishi and Aude

Pair 3: Markus and Emily

Pair 4: Sasha and Kazuki

    1. You must include an Activity (Rhythm-related Activity) (20 minutes)

After the warm-up is completed, we will watch the video of the dance together. We will then combine the pairs to make two groups of four. In each group of four, two members will be assigned the first 8 beats and two members will be assigned the last 8 beats. We will have e-mailed the video link to each person so that they can watch the video tutorial and learn their part.
Before they split up into groups and learn the dance, we will suggest different approaches that help not only learn the dance but also maintain the essential elements. This includes tips like counting with the partner together while learning/practicing the dance and having a third person counting the rhythm and spotting when precision is down/they are not on beat.
After roughly 10 minutes, we will  present them with a mini-challenge of incorporating use of space into their dances. They will be required to modify at least one part per 8-beat dance. We will stress the importance of maintaining precision and synchronization while spreading out and not being able to see one another easily.
Group 1: Touko, Rishi, Gen, Emily

Group 2: Aude, Markus, Kazuki, Sasha

Explanation/Justification of Activity:

There are several reasons why we decided to structure the activity the way we did.

  • The students have a wide variety of skillsets and experience/exposure to dance. Instead of trying to teach the dance to all the students at a pace or explanations that might not suit their level, we decided to allow the students to learn their part at their own pace with the video that they can replay and study as many times as necessary.
    • That being said, we still want to be good facilitators and not completely abandon the students  to sink or swim on their own. This is why we have brainstormed several tips to tell them before they start learning the dance, which we can remind them if necessary.
  • Since the focus of this lesson is mainly on being very precise and in sync, we did not want to make the dance itself too difficult. To make the dance easier, we split the 16-beat dance into two 8-beat dances so that each student’s dance burden was lighter.
  • We assigned four people to each group (two people per 8-beat dance) to ensure that the element of synchronization (requiring at least two people, of course) is still a major component of the dance routine.
  • We present them with the challenge of incorporating use of space midway through the activity in order to make sure that they learn, through the rhythm, the dance with precision and synchronization before trying to incorporate use of space. Otherwise, the groups may be overwhelmed or may try to do too much at once in the beginning.
    1. Possibly a performance to finish (2 groups of 4) (3 minutes)

The two groups will perform their dance with the added element. (Use of space) While the groups are dancing, the video will be playing in front of them. We will stress keeping the rhythm in mind. Because our group is relatively small, the dance studio would be a more fitting venue. The gym would also be fine.
Justification/Explanation of Performance:

  • Deciding to put the video in front of the group was in fact a tough decision to make. We made the point that the music and the rhythm of the music is the only connections/cues that the dancers have when they are performing live, which is why it is so important to be able to keep the rhythm. By putting the video in front of them, we are giving them the video as a visual connection or cue that puts slightly less focus on the music. However, without the video playing precision would decrease immensely. Precision comes first before synchronization: you have to be able to do the moves in order to time it with a partner. Also, they will have to keep the rhythm to some extent even with the video up. In the end, we decided to have the video playing while they are dancing.
    1. Possibly a debrief time to talk about the lesson (Talk about rhythm and its connection to music) (3 minutes)

Everyone will be paired up with another person from the other group and will be provided with some questions to discuss. The questions will be written on the whiteboard for display.

  1. How successful do you think your group did with the added element “use of space”? (Rate out of 5)

How did “use of space” affect your performance? (Harder or Easier)

  1. How effective was the performance in terms of rhythm? Did you have any difficulties working with rhythms?

Justification/Explanation of Discussion:
The questions are provided to help the dancers re-evaluate their own performance.
Equipment list:



Video cues/links:
Noteflight Document (with rhythms and whatnot)

Dance Video

Tutorial (0:30 ~ 4:20)

Actual Performance (6:09 ~ 6:27)

We will send out this email to our group with tutorial and music links with cues.

Kazuki, Sasha, Markus, Rishi, Gen, Touko, Aude, Emily
Hello Group A,
This is the tutorial of the dance that you will be learning today.
The tutorial is from 0:30 to 4:20.
If you want to take a look at the performance, go to 6:09. The performance is going to be only for 15 seconds but it is important that you keep precision in your moves. Take a look at each move carefully!
Once you are done, go to the link above. (link for the music “Black and Yellow”) The section that you will be performing will be from 1:57 to 2:09.
Good luck!
Duncan Aronson and Yongwon Choi

Timing of each Section:
9:10 ~ 9:20: Warm-ups
9:21 ~ 9:41: Activity
9:42 ~ 9:45: Performance
9:46 ~ 9:50: Reflecting Time


Choreographic Plan below:



Choreographic plan

Note: Teaching Methodology for each move is to make sure that they count the beats during each step.

(The following are screenshots of a table on google drive, hence the weird alignment and mismatching.)

Screen Shot 2015-04-26 at 9.11.38 PM   Screen Shot 2015-04-26 at 9.11.50 PMScreen Shot 2015-04-26 at 9.12.04 PMScreen Shot 2015-04-26 at 9.12.52 PMScreen Shot 2015-04-26 at 9.12.36 PMScreen Shot 2015-04-26 at 9.12.24 PM


Screen Shot 2015-04-26 at 9.12.45 PM  


Was your planning effective?  How do you know?  What makes you say that?

I think that our planning, although detailed and thoroughly thought-out, was ineffective. To me, the two main indicators of this was that the students did not seem to enjoy it all that much and that the students did not take away much from our lesson. There wasn’t much smiling or laughter or positive vibes coming from the group during the lesson, which was in large part our own fault. When it was performance time at the end, nobody was confident or ready to dance. These two factors are both correlated to each other and to the effectiveness of the planning as a whole. Students who can learn a new dance or meet a challenge are more likely to be having fun than those who feel like they are struggling (our class).

What was your strongest teaching component?  Why?

In my opinion, the strongest component was the dance battle in the warm-up of our lesson. It was in this section where we were doing simple 8-beat dances that we made up on the spot and “challenging” each other in a friendly manner. This was where we (me and Yongi) found the best balance of making the lesson enjoyable and keeping things interesting with the mini-competition and action and whatnot while also making sure that dance skills were being directly practiced and improved.

What was your weakest teaching component? Why?

The weakest teaching component was the music-note session at the very beginning of the lesson. This was not so great for a couple of reasons. The major issue was that we didn’t realize that a majority of the students in our P.E. class are in fact music students (even some of the drama students had some music knowledge) so learning the fundamentals of notes, which almost everyone knew already, was redundant. What was supposed to be interesting and exotic turned out to be dry and boring. It killed the interest levels. Also, it was a bit more passive learning than, say, the dance battle and the learning of the dance. They sat there and “recited” the rhythms rather actively thinking and applying the concepts themselves. Overall, this section started us off on the wrong foot.

What challenges did you face?

It was very hard to make the rhythm-explanation interesting and to sound interested, trudging along when everyone already knew the content. Also, the difficulty of the dance and what we required of the students, even though we tried to compensate for this by doing only a small part of the dance, was too hard. Yongi and I are not experts at dance by any means, so we could only teach the students so much of the dance ourselves, forcing them to rely solely on the video that we provided.

What strategies might you use again or do differently for teaching your dance?

One to use next time is to make the dance quite easy at the basic level and have potential adjustments or add-ons if the dance is too easy. Another is to make sure that we are capable/able to do a walkthrough of sorts. I found that the lessons that were most effective usually had the teacher lead and go through each step one by one. Lastly, the music note/rhythm explanation can also be shortened a lot. Instead of being explained from a music theory perspective, next time it would be best to not bring in the actual musical notation and whatnot which slowed the flow of the class.

One strategy I think worked rather well is the dance battle in the warm-up. This was the main section of our lesson that felt relatively upbeat and got the students the most involved.

What was your happiest part?

Although finally getting the projector in the gym was nice, the dance battle was also my happiest part. As you can probably tell at this point, I think that the dance battle was the most solid part of our lesson. Seeing everyone else enjoying themselves and having fun allowed me, even in the teacher role, to enjoy the lesson and have fun.

Did everything go according to plan?  Why or why not?

In fact, very little went according to plan. Although we did the same general activities outlined in our plan, we ended up changing a lot of the details on the spot. Some were based more on a feel for the situation or intuition. For example, we had originally made pairs with people of opposite genders, but with interest levels already going down from the music note explanation we decided on the spot to let them choose their own partners for the sake of not generating negative feelings/energy towards the lesson or us. Other times, it was due to the difficulty of our dance that changes had to be made. Instead of having the students incorporate a whole extra measure or two with the use of space and performing as separate groups, we decided to simply tell them to think about using space with the dance moves they had and letting them perform as one large group. This was because our dance was simply too difficult to be able to perform with confidence and to then modify it in the allotted time.

I&S: Freedom of Expression Editorial

Dear Editors of the New York Times,

In regard to the article “French Rein In Speech Backing Acts of Terror”, published on January 15, 2015 in The New York Times and written by Doreen Carvajal and Alan Cowe, I think that the columnists have identified a trend that has been true since the beginning of time and is a major, and maybe understated, component of the debate over freedom of expression. Culture has always differentiated “these” people from “those” people, for better or for worse. As fascinating and great as cultures can be, they also act as distinct rifts between countries and regions. In a world that is exponentially more global than ever before, people from completely different upbringings with completely different opinions can share their ideas openly. This process has only been accelerated by technology like the internet, online newspapers and blogs. Just as globalization can promote cultural understanding and broaden perspectives, it can also lead to head-butting and incite hatred for other cultures. It is a natural human tendency to demonize or disassociate the “us” from the “them”.

This phenomenon has reared its ugly head in the case of Charlie Hebdo and the Islamic people who were offended by Charlie Hebdo‘s. The French government, and those who blindly chanted “Je suis Charlie” without seriously considering the other side of the story, have fallen prey to this dangerous way of thinking the same way that Muslim protesters around the world have. It is a vicious cycle that almost always leads to a messy end. While Muslim people are enraged at the sacrilegious depictions of Charlie Hebdo, the Western world is enraged at the violent retaliation of the Islamic terrorists. Everyone is focused on how “we” are the victims, and “they” the enemy.

Process Journal 2nd Semester

Overview: My individual performance will be the classical guitar piece, “Robinson’s May”.

Week 1: This week, we have just chosen our solo performances.Because we have not had much practice time, my goals for this week are not very ambitious, as there are a lot of minute details and techniques that will be too confusing and difficult to try to do from the start. My first goal is to be able to play the song from beginning to end without making an obvious error and without looking at the sheet music. For now, quality is not important. It is more important at this point to have a solid foundation that I can build up on in the upcoming weeks. Also, for next week I would like to improve my warm-ups through research or other sources. Because I have not had too many lessons or teaching with guitar, I am not knowledgable about many of the “ritualistic drills”. To increase not only my rate of improvement, but also the overall success or execution of the piece, doing these drills may be a huge help.

There are two main warm-ups or practice parts that I will be doing in order to be able to play the whole song. The first phase is the “sheet music” phase, which is when I will focus on note and rhythmic accuracy, reading the notes on the manuscript paper as I play. In order to play this song, I will have to be able to do finger sliding techniques and playing strings with specific fingers. The warm-ups for finger siding are specified in the video. They are useful generally speaking with similar techniques like hammer-ons and pull-offs that will make me a better guitarist overall. These techniques are also directly linked to the finger sliding technique in the song with finger sliding practice.

Once I am able to play the song well enough, then the next phase is the “memorization” phase, which is when I will focus on committing the song to memory. To memorize any piece is mostly trial and error. When I can’t remember a part of the song, I will peek at the sheet music and make a mental note in my head to focus on that particular part of the song.

Video Here


Week 2: As outlined in last week’s plan, I was able to use both warm-ups to learn the song both reading the sheet paper and from memory. The slides were a little bit hard to get used to because there are small technical details that determine how good the slide sounds, which differs depending on the desired sound. The speed of the finger slide and the pressure or force on the strings were the two main details I could pick out. More importantly, I achieved my main goal of being able to play the song through completely by memory.

For this next week, my goal is to make the finger slides sound nicer. In order to achieve this goal, I need to learn the basics about finger sliding technique. This is my first time experiencing the finger sliding technique, so I found a very comprehensive video that is in-depth while being very easily understandable for a beginner guitar player such as myself. It suggests practicing techniques as well as ways to compensate or make it easier, then increasing the difficulty as I progress. The suggestion to practice different fingers in the video is very, very useful because in my piece I am required to slide with multiple fingers, including trickier fingers like the pinky finger and ring finger.

Once this is done, I’m going to do additional finger slides mentioned in a different video which outlines an a-minor pentatonic scale. I will practice doing these slides in the video while also doing the specific slides that are found in the piece to make sure that the warm-ups have a direct impact on my ability to play the slides in the song.

Week 3: This week, I decided to make a drastic change to the individual performance. Instead of performing the song “Love Affair”, I will be performing the song “Robinson’s May”. There is enough time between now and the performance date to be able to accomplish this. The two reasons for the change are that I thought that “Love Affair” was not sufficiently challenging and that the vibe did not completely fit the setting and the audience. “Robinson’s May” is both more challenging and is a more upbeat and, I think, suitable vibe.

I have already learned part of the song with my guitar teacher. In this song, it is very important to understand the phrasing and the flow of the song in order to be able to play it. In my case, I have clearly indicated on the sheet music where the phrases are as shown below. This has helped me understand the flow much better.

IMG_0322Two other issues that I have been using similar sheet music tactics for is dynamics and duration of notes.  In my piece, there are many instances where bass notes or other random notes are held as other notes are being played on top of them. Sometimes, it’s confusing to remember which instances I am supposed to hold the note for longer. I have notated my sheet music like so.


My goal for this week is to be able to play the whole song fluently. At the moment, I can play 1/2 to 2/3 of the song well.  In order to become fluent, I am emulating this video. As a warm-up, I am also playing other classical songs that I have learned, like “Love Affair” and “Spanish Romance” to warm-up my classical guitar muscles before learning more of the piece and trying to refine my playing of the piece.

In music class today, me and yongi played our individual performances to each other and gave each other constructive criticism. Two opinions are always better than one opinion, and in this case yongi and I are on a similar level, so it was a good experience for both of us to play to each other. Also, his overall impression of my play has given me a bit of confidence as well.

Week 4: This week was a bit of a hectic week. With our group performances and our pre-Spring Break workload, which was quite heavy to say the least, it has been significantly harder to allocate time to practicing my song. Although I have made progress from last week and I can say that I accomplished last week’s goal of being able to play through the song, progress has been stunted a bit. The song is a little rusty still in a few places, so my goal for this week is to get back on track and be able to play the piece with even more fluency. I will practice the same warm-ups as last week.

As I’ve been trying to get back into the swing of things, I have noticed a bad development that I need to fix immediately. In the piece, the endings to many of the phrases are chords that are held for a significantly longer duration than the others (usually half notes). Recently, I have not been able to hold these chords consistently for the right duration. I feel as though I am always guessing the duration. Here are is one example (where “E7” is written) of what I am talking about.



To rid myself of this musical malady, I am going to use a metronome to keep a steady beat. When I near one of the parts that I have not been timing well,  I will look at the manuscript and start counting the rhythm out-loud ,”1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and”, to make completely sure that I understand the duration of the note and to be able to update my understanding of the song, so to speak. Eventually, I should move on from counting out loud, to just saying it in my head, to saying it with my head without the metronome, before finally being able to play it correctly witInhout exertion. So, an additional goal for this week is to be able to get the timing of these notes correct.

As far as warm-ups go, I wanted to find one that could help me for a specific part of the piece that I have been finding difficult to play fluently.The reason thatI have identified for why I have struggled with it is the positioning of the hand/wrist. Generally speaking, it is good and necessary to have one’s wrist just out when playing the guitar. For this specific part, however, it is a tough stretch of the hand that requires even more jutting out of the wrist along with quickness of the hand to play well. In order to help be able to play this part (which comes at the very end of the song), I will include these stretches in my warm-up.

Week 5:

This week directly follows the spring break of two weeks, so my technique and fluidity is a little bit rusty as I was a bit lax about my guitar regiment. However, I am confident that I know what I need to do in this following week to not only play notes cleanly but be able to play the song well on performance day. Because performance day is coming up very soon, my practices will not be focused at all on useful things irrelevant to my song, like chords or picking, but will be focused only on song fluency and expression.

So far, I have been practicing by myself either in class or at home. The most crucial parts in my song are the transitions between some of the phrases, especially when the notes are quick and/or in tough positions. When I’m practicing my piece, I will focus on these parts and commit it to muscle memory so that over time I can increase my playing speed without sacrificing fluidity.

To be able to be able to play in front of the music class in a performance setting, however, I will need to practice in a similar environment. Once I feel proficient enough in my song, I will start to practice at least once a day, possibly after dinner or during breakfast, in front of my family. Having an actual audience will put extra pressure on me and I will make mistakes. If I am able to play under these conditions, it should be good preparation for the actual performance day.

Before the performance itself, the best way I can prepare for the performance is by staying calm and not worrying. Worrying only leads to unnecessary baggage and increases the chances of making mistakes in the performance. To stay positive and not worry, the only real remedies are A: Being aware of stress levels/attitude and trying to be calm and B: Be prepared enough so that I can be confident. Before the actual start of my song, I will think of the first measure in my head before I start to play. I’m pretty sure you (Mr.Johnston) was the one who recommended this to me and I found it very useful at the Play, Perform, Create performance.

Review of this Week: I was able to follow the regiment that I outlined. Not only was I able to practice in front of my family, I was also able to play it for my guitar teacher, who gave many good tips on dynamics and expression. I played in front of him and another guitar teacher I do not know as well, which made me feel quite nervous and so was good preparation. During the performance itself, I was surprisingly calm and felt relatively confident, and I think it was reflected in the performance. I am quite satisfied with how the performance went.


Reflection on the Performance Process

Overall, I think that my performance process went quite well this time around and was better-executed compared to the last performance process. This time, I felt like I did a good job of picking apart the piece and mastering each piece with various drills and practice regiments. I managed to learn the song part by part until I had good individual parts that I connected with the help of my guitar teacher. The best part of this year’s process, which Mr.Johnston recommended to us after the last performance, was practicing in performance-like environments. Playing in front of my family and guitar teacher and his friend prepared me well for the actual performance. I felt surprisingly calm and was able to maintain good articulation and tone. The last piece, Spanish Romance, I remember my nervousness making my hands feel a bit weaker and less confident.

However, there were still parts about my process that were not so great. The major fault that I found was that there were still times where I regressed rather than progressed. It always happened when we went on a trip somewhere or I had been busy and not concentrated on guitar. Although it is mostly out of my control, I still think I could have done a little bit more to at least mitigate the regression a little bit. For example, I could have recorded me playing it and listened to it to critique and breakdown, or listened to the good guitar player that I found play it to try and absorb/observe his style and ability. I also could have brought my music sheet and even visualized/imagined playing it or double check rhythms and pitch in my head so at least I can jump right back in the practice process.




“Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World” by Jack Weatherford

“Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World” by Jack Weatherford518ZGT854JL

Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World is one of the best history books I have ever read. Weatherford has created something completely different from the stereotypical documentaries and historical accounts that depict the Mongols as an incredibly savage and ruthless  people. Instead of using the historical accounts of the foreigners invaded by the Mongols,  he references Mongol texts, deciphered relatively recently, to show the Mongolian side of the story. He explores Genghis Khan’s personal life and his rise to power from a castaway family to the leader of a great nation. He explains how Genghis Khan’s economic and military systems and policies not only made his empire successful, but also shows that Genghis Khan was wise leader who displayed open-mindedness and tolerance of all the new people and cultures he encountered. Weatherford does not stop at his death, continuing the story through Genghis Khan’s descendants and the fall of the Mongol empire. He also connects dots to the present. He talks about the scholars who risked their lives trying to search for and decipher Mongolian texts as well as his own adventures in Genghis Khan’s homeland. Sound exciting? Well,  if you’re still not convinced, here is a book trailer (made by yours truly).

Performance Reflection

For any performance, success is dependent on everything leading up to the performance. The biggest factor is the rehearsals or practices leading up to the performance. Volume, content, and the surroundings all play important roles in the effectiveness of the practice. Practice must be often enough to have steady improvement and ensure that the musician is ready for the rehearsal. The practice should also include good warm-ups and drills that are directly applicable to the song and improve a certain technique necessary for the song. The surroundings are very important because as human beings we tend to do much better in environments we are familiar with. The more familiar a performance-like environment is, the easier it is to play to the best of one’s ability.
In my performance, I thought I played adequately but definitely did not achieve the level I could have, especially considering that I played better in the practice. The biggest thing I overlooked was the nervousness and the tension of playing in front of an audience. Although I have played in front of audiences several times, I overlooked or underestimated it this time around. Looking back, I realise that I should have practiced in front of people so that I could have played to my full ability during the performance. Also, I would have practiced a little bit earlier than I did for the performance. I felt like my practices were pretty well-structured and that they helped me learn my song well. During the piece itself, I need to keep my cool and not get too nervous or excited. Most of the mistakes are caused by the nervous mindset where the only thought is “I want to get over with this.” So, I hope to keep my cool next time and really focus on playing well and taking time, even if it is nerve racking.