Hikaru Umi (光る海)- Spring Concert

Yesterday we had the spring concert. *Yay!* Well not really. And a a rule of thumbs we, of course have to do a reflection. The piece was called Hikaru-umi or shining sea. Nice title right? It was an ensemble piece so we of course had to practice tons especially as we had 18 people playing in 2 parts. Scary! Overall I think as a group we did well with minor mistakes here and there which only Mr Patterson, our teacher recognised. 🙁

Practice was relatively easy for this piece as it was 8 pages instead of the norm of about 22 pages give or take a few. Also within those 8 pages there was a point in which we basically repeated what we played before. Also there was no new techniques really, just one bit where we had to use our index finger that I for one wasn’t used to. I practiced about 1 or twice a week for about 30 minutes, though most of that time was trying to get feeling in my legs as once they’re numb, I can’t move! The bits I practiced can be seen in this post which I did before. There were other bits and pieces I practiced as well but those were the main ones as that was the hardest. For memorisation, It was simple as once you play, it sticks to your mind like glue. Seriously.

Techniques did present their own challenges though. Even if Koto II did have more challenges. See being sucky at music does pay off! It saves you from insanity known as koto II. Challenges includes several full presses that seemed was trying to cut off my fingers and all my skin. Though it did sound a whole ton better that without presses. Half presses were also plentiful in the piece and the problem with this was over pressing so the sound is too high. You can’t seem to win can you? Another challenge was the tsuruten, one is okay, 8 meh, more then 10 is just a nightmare. And that is what we had to do. Also accents were difficult as most times when you play forte, to get any louder was like trying to split the Koto. Also trying to accent certain notes was hard as when you have to play the note again my hand tends to tense and play the unaccented note with an accent.

During the actual presentation I didn’t have nerves as I didn’t see the point. That was until Kaori mentioned it. Thank you Kaori, note the sarcasm. But once I started playing it went away, thank god for that. During the presentation the nerves of others were obvious with the clear speeding up of the piece.

Out of 10 I would give myself a 10, just kidding, I would give myself a 7-8 because I did manage to get most parts but in the slow part I missed the 7,4 beat and the part with the press and index finger I missed the first one as I wasn’t ready. But overall I thought I didn’t make too many mistakes and actually did the Dynamics correctly, for once I might add. For these reasons I think I did a 7-8.

Overall I have learned that individual practice is not all there is to a group but the necessity of working as a group both inside and out of class is important for an ensemble . Also be ready to play about 2X the speed you should play so that you can catch up to your group if you have people that are extremely nervous, or excited, or both!

Koto Hikari Umi – Process Journal – Focus

So for Koto we started this very short piece. It is really sad how short this piece is. Mainly because it is only 8 pages while on average we have been practicing 22-5 paged pieces for the last 3 years. It is called 光る海 or shining sea. It’s an awesome piece that seems easy but is relatively challenging if you consider the tempo we are supposed to be playing it at. Although we got this piece almost 3 weeks ago, we’ve finished it. Not well but done none the less. So as our Journal we have to talk about 3 different parts we need to focus on.

1) The presses on page 3

In one section we have a lot of presses. Not consecutively but done nonetheless. This is hard as we have a pattern of 九,八,八( with half press),七 to be repeated 3 times before the jump to 六(full press). I find this hard because I always tend to forget the change and miss it completely or end up pressing the wrong string (hehe). So to solve this, I practiced it from the top of section 2 to the end of the presses. It was funny as the first few times I ended up getting cuts from. (See string instruments are sharp!)

Here is a video of when I finished a 45 min practice ( it has a few mistakes as I realised I was supposed to be sleeping then 0_o):

Movie on 5-6-15 at 9.56 PM (sorry too lazy to upload it to vimeo)

2) The “tsuruten (?)” section

This is where we had a long section of tsurutens. This is where you play a note then move you pick over the string to create 2 of the same sounds consecutively.  This gives the piece more dynamics and a different feel but is challenging if you have no timing/ hand-eye coordination skills to move you fingers fast enough that you don’t play the same note. To practice this I will just have to go through it slowly then gradually pick up the pace. This is as then you get into a rhythm.

3) The Ritardando Section

This is where you would gradually slow down your pace. I find this hard as I normally am either too fast and don’t slow down enough or too slow where I overestimate how slow to go. This means that I’m relying on my peers to get it right, which I dislike as then at home I practice it wrongly. To do this I will just have to estimate how long to wait/ get a tempo from Megumi (a classmate) that always get’s it right. Then use that tempo to practice easy-peasy right?

Pop Song: Summer Save Us.

So before you click the video above, DON’T. The thing is pure evil trying to embarrass me. So I’ve had the very pleasurable experience of singing for my class and making a brilliant song (*add tone of sarcasm here*). Hint: I dislike singing in public. Namely because I can’t sing to save my life. So why am I singing here? Because I just happened to be the only one who can sing. Or rather I am the only one who was available because I don’t play many instruments very well (I only play the koto), and can be able to not completely destroy a tune. In my group (the Grace) we had Grace, the only musical one that did almost everything, Kaori, a very dedicated kotoist (koto playing person (?), and Noah, who was basically the devils advocate and also the only to make us lose our focus, for example changing lyrics to make it a song about being stuck in a tornado (*has throwback and starts laughing in class*).

On a more serious note (well trying to be serious), I actually learned a lot. For one, never sing if you can avoid it unless you are gifted (or the total opposite of me), and also the lyrics come last. I actually felt bad for my group as when we started the song, we then had winter break, and me being me trying to procrastinate and not do any math and missed summer, I wrote the whole song and came up with the tune. What I forgot was that my group isn’t musical enough to come up with a tune to accompany the tune I made. So basically I made my job way, way, easier than it should’ve been, and my group’s extra, extra hard. So that was a challenge for them. Another thing that became a challenge was then making the chord progression, as we needed it and I happened to sing at an awkward note, so we then had to change the scale to A♭(A minor) scale. So then it would actually fit. It ended up being the I, IV, V, VI, IVI, IV, V, VI, V.

Another challenge that we came across was when I had admissions in England for a week, as I hadn’t recorded it they had to improvise while I was away so they made the intro for the piece. Then they realised they needed a connector. So we worked on that towards the end of the project. Mainly as it was difficult to connect 2 notes in a Quater Note. We managed it anyhow all was okay. The last challenge I will mention is the structure and it’s difficulty with deadlines. I originally wrote a structure of: Verse, Pre-chorus, Chorus, Verse, Verse, Chorus, Verse. But that didn’t work as the coming up with accompanying tunes was harder than what I thought (I mentioned it in the previous paragraph) so I had to cut out one verse as we ran out of time and the fact it was then too reliant on me which I disliked (and Noah said he didn’t like it). So instead turned out to be: Verse, Pre-chorus, Chorus, VerseChorus, Interlude, Verse. The interlude I gave to Grace as she is just that good at music and coming up with catchy tunes. In fact it should be illegal how good she is at doing this.

My job was very simple in the group. To interest Noah into doing something so that he doesn’t distract the rest of the group. And to sing, and be there when rehearsing with the rest of the group. And to make the lyrics. They lyrics is:

Summer Save Us:
Summer’s almost here,
Few more hours to go,
School’s gone by with nothing to show,
But hidden memories.
But it’s okay now,
Summer’s almost here now,
Saved by the bell they say,
Well that’s me any day.
And everybody’s gathering now.. oh..
Summer’s here to save us now…
(Pre-chorus ends)
Summer save us, save us, save us, oh..
I’m free now..
Summer’s here now..
Memories are only round the corner
‘Cause summertime’s here.
(Chorus ends)
Happiness is spreading…
Summer’s here to save us.
Friends are all around..  us now
Everybody’s here now.. oh..
Summer’s here to save us now…
Summer save us, save us, save us, oh..
I’m free now..
Summer’s here now..
Memories are only round the corner
‘Cause summertime’s here.
(Chorus ends) 
(Grace Solo)
It’s better to treasure it all,
Sometimes not okay at all,
A year more to go,
Before summertime returns,
To save us all...

I think that of all my jobs the outcome was the best about our group. I managed to somehow come after school 3times a week for majority of the project. How I did this I have no idea. But I did. This was what our group did the best at, diligently coming after school to make up for time our group wastes by being distracted by Noah. Another good thing was managing to balance out my schedule.

All in all it was a very fun unit that I would like to redo. Preferably the write way this time. After all a second try is always better than that of the first.

Drama Infomercial Reflection

So in Drama we have been working on speech so as an silly assessment, an infomercial on a silly, useless item. Me being me (and having no imagination whatsoever), we chose a slinky because everyone knows what a slinky is. Right? So after finishing our project as per usual we have to do a reflection, namely, this.

What are your personal barriers that keep you from being a better public speaker?

If you know me, this is going to sound weird but actually my shyness. I dislike being on the spot, especially when I have practiced. I feel like because I practice I should get it right. And if anyone has ever done a speech you will know it never ends up like that. Unless you happen to be lucky (which is definitely not me). Another barrier is rhythm and pace. To speak slowly is like torture to me. It simply doesn’t associate with me (I talk a million miles an hour, anyone will testify to that). So to find the natural rhythm to a speech and pace your speech is hard. Final barriers I would like to write about is clarity of speech and stuttering. One thing that I noticed is that when I forget something, I will tend to stutter or say fillers (um, ah (etc.) so my clarity tends to be terrible. Especially mixed with the pace of the speech.

How could you break down those barriers?

As the first are mental barriers I just I have to get over myself and tell myself that it was going to be okay and maybe just take a chill pill if there was such thing as one. The physical ones, rhythm- I could set a tempo to a normal pace about the same as a medium paced song, so to talk slower (pace) I talk to the pace of the song so that way I could be done more reliably. The stuttering can be done by calming down, so taking a deep breath (hopefully, not so obviously). This would help with the clarity, especially the pace. See they’re all interlinked.

Overall if you think about it all speech whether persuasive, or presenting a poster in a classroom setting, speeches are inevitable. So to improve basically I just need to think everything through. Who knows it may work!

Video here:

Comparing books and films: The Outsiders

What’s the better type of media, films or novels? To ask this is a stupid question as in many cases there is either one or the other. And in many cases both are good types of media to compare one or the either. So what about movie adaptations of books. This is a reasonable question and in the context of the outsiders, there are things both types of media does well.

For one, movies will change the importance of certain characters due to the actor’s reputation. For example in the novel Sodapop is more important in the book, Ponyboy always refers to how Sodapop loves him while Darry ignores and leaves him alone and Dally (Dallas Winston) is just a passing note. However Darry is more important in the movie. His presence is always longer than that of other secondary characters. Even his demise was more graphic and longer than the novel. They added unnecessary scenes and other useless sections as the actor Matt Dillion was apparently more famous/popular than the rest of the crew.

Another difference was the tone and mood. The tone is implied rather than said. The author tended to write Ponyboy’s thoughts referring to his guess. And the tension is not as emphasised than the movie. This is as you can’t tell how the words are said, and you don’t notice the slight changes in mood or the atmosphere as it isn’t noted. In the movie the tone is that of the actor, so we cannot read the scenes in different tones. Like in the scene Ponyboy refers to his brothers, he is furious, but in the book it can be interpreted as sad, or longing.

Other differences include how both seem to either extend or shorten scenes. For example the movie Cherry tells Ponyboy that she likes him. This is not of much significance but it adds to the character of cherry, on the other hand without the whole scene, it leaves mystery in the book, and why Cherry did what she did seems more inconspicuous. Like there is more to her which adds to the story. However the movie also takes out parts they think are irrelevant. Like how the movie starts about 3 chapters in, just because they deem the first part the utmost  importance. Note the sarcasm.

Although there are many other things that I will be unable to mention. Overall I still prefer the book to that of it’s counterpart, the adaptation. There is something iridescent about books. The language and how the thrill and tension of books will forever capture the true spirit of it’s meanings. And my liking

Drama Reflection- Speech

Clip #12 from YIS Arts on Vimeo.

This is my speech about how traveling is bad. If you personally know me, then you know how hypocritical this is for me to do. However through doing this speech I can now see both sides and while looking for facts I also learned how hard/controversial it is to measure change in countries. Anyway, reflecting, there are many things I have learned about myself, and speech making.

During the actual speech, I was very,very shaken. It didn’t help that the person before me did, extremely well. I had high expectations to stay up to, and I didn’t think I could deliver a speech that reached that expectation. Watching the video you could see I was tapping my feet often, said on top of that excessively, looked away a lot and checked my cue cards more than I needed to showing my anxiousness. Yes, instead of doing normal things like biting my nails, I fidget and look away. So I really need to be able to learn how to calm down. One thing, I thought I did well on was making eye contact some times, and speaking slowly- at least compared to my practice. This was as my partner Emma, actually reminded me of it before I went on stage. Consequentially this meant I went overtime by a lot. So I’m not sure what is better. Another aspect I need to work on is my actual speech, you could hear my lisp clearly. But I’m not quite sure how to overcome that so I’ll have to leave it be.

Overall though, I am glad we did this unit as persuasive speech as it is important. For example, if I wanted a new personal computer (not that I have one anymore), I could use a persuasive speech to persuade my parents to buy one for me. Or if I wanted to have no homework for math or another subject, I could persuade them with this type of speech. I could also use persuasive speeches in the future. Like in an college/university interviews persuading them to say you’re the type of student that should be accepted into that school. Another place would be in a company, persuading costumers to buy shares in your new investment company. You could even use persuasive speeches to ask people to check/ help edit your work for feedback. See persuasive speeches are useful!

Other kinds of speeches come in useful as well, so learning how to prepare, structure, and present a speech well is also important. I learned that to structure a speech you should have 3-4 main topics then around 4 or more points per topic to thoroughly. Even though it is hard to fit it into a 2-3 minute speech. Also you should have a hook at the beginning of your intro (this maybe a joke, a shocking statement, a rhetorical question, a question, or anything that grabs the audience’s attention) and have 1 or 2 facts per topic to make it seem like you know what you’re talking about. To prepare for the speech you should make note cards with each of your points/facts, and a rough idea of what you’re going to say for your intro, and conclusion. And also tons of practice in front of a camera if you don’t like being filmed when presenting (like me). To present a speech you should either go first, if you’re brave or after your friends as they will be like a role model.

In all this unit has been more useful then meets the eye. I am truly glad that I have done this unit as speeches, though annoying and seemingly useless, are actually more useful in more ways than one. It makes you confront your fears of presenting, teaches you to stay calm, helps you get things you want (mostly from parents) and mostly makes you learn about yourself and your topic of interest.

Koto Reflection

The Winter koto concert was last week’s Wednesday and in response to this have to do a reflection and write a song. PREPOSTEROUS! HI But still as it is assessed I have to write this blogpost. So, yeah, happy reading!
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Since the beginning of school we have been working on a 20 paged piece called ‘YUME NO WA’ or in Japanese ‘夢の輪’ by a guy called Sawai Hikaru (沢井比河流). It is an absolute pain to remember especially if you’re in Base Koto (there are simply too many rests..) But I was lucky and was stuck in 2nd koto with the normal 13 stringed koto. In the end it is a great song, sounded great and it is currently still stuck in my head. REALLY THOUGH! UGH! So as it is now done with I must write a massive reflection on my journey of learning if that makes any sense.

It all started with the practice. Basically on the first class back we were given the music, played it to us once then we started to practice, we got our final groups about a week later I think. To me the hardest parts was to add up the blogposts. The recording bit wasn’t hard but all the typing made we postpone doing it until I realised I was late for posting it online. The actual playing was tough but not impossible and as we played the piece more I realised the parts I found difficult were the ones I ended remembering best ironically. I remember going to the stage with the 9th graders, their piece was very different to ours and they played it beautifully, however one of the teachers, Dr Amato, sort of shouted at them about the dynamics which wasn’t very good for my nerves. And in total once we got on stage, all the nerves of my classmates, and the temptation to impress the 9th graders left us with a piece that was so fast till a point where we barely played it.

I found personally that the major changes in the strings, for example going from 一 string to 斗,十 difficult for me and also when we had to stop the strings at a certain time as I kept on either not playing the string or covering it too late so you could hear it. But that was because I have terrible coordination.

As for the actual performance I felt rather calm, as a group we talked about the beat and we air kotoed it, we made especially sure we were playing at the same pace in our koto 2 bit, koto 1 also agreed to try and stabilise the beat as we always seem to end up playing everything about 10 times quicker at the end than at the beginning. It was rather annoying, and as we kept on forgetting to not whisper, we also got shouted at by Mr Noonan, and Ms Bridgewater a lot. Individually, I didn’t much up too badly and nobody noticed, so it was fine, though I want to improve on the bits where I had to cover up the notes we were playing as I messed up almost all of those. As a group though, we pulled a MIRACLE! I’m not even kidding. We started off slow and kept it that way till very close to the end, which had never happened, though we needed to work on the part that goes, 斗,九,巾,十,八,斗,十,九 as hardly anybody played that bit, and the jump from 一,一,二,一,六,一,二 to 斗,十,八,六,八,十.

In conclusion I feel like it was a complete success and I will be looking forward to playing another modern piece! (And not having to sing!)