GCD Personal Goal – Achieving to produce a CD showcasing Japanese Koto music

My personal project task which I completed in ninth grade demonstrates how I achieved my goal of spreading awareness of the Japanese Koto through setting a specific and challenging goal, planning, taking action and reflecting on how I was able to achieve my goal.

Performing and practicing koto has been one of my passions for the past 8 years, for solo and as an ensemble. Over years, I have been taught how to play a variety of music pieces, koto techniques and how to add elements to the sound through the Yokohama International School Japanese Music Program. Learning and performing the koto in an environment where everyone is familiar, I naturally thought that everyone outside of school would also be aware of the koto. Therefore, during conversations with foreigners and family friends, it was a surprise to me that some did not know anything about the koto. Combining my 8 years of koto performance experience with these observations, I wanted to take on the challenge of spreading awareness of the 13 string koto as well as improve on my own koto performance.

To achieve this goal, I decided to create a website for people who are not familiar with the koto, in both English and Japanese. On the website, I included a brief history of the koto along with 5 recordings of my performance and a pop quiz with unique information on of the koto. The requirements I set for myself made this project highly challenging for me. I had prior knowledge of creating a website in 6th grade, and also a brief understanding of the history of the koto, such as it was imported from China. However, the blog post and pages had to be well structured and include detailed information. Also, I needed to focus on the ease of use for the blog such as inserting page links to connect pages which were highly challenging. All of the koto pieces selected were new to me and they included certain techniques that I had never come across. Creating a website with new recordings allowed me to share information on a global scale. The quality of my performance was a key aspect to my website for I needed to make sure I leave a nice first impression of the instrument.

Comparing my final product to my success criteria, my product was highly successful. My first criteria were based on how to spread awareness. I was able to achieve all of these specifications since I accomplished 337 views, created a feedback survey, and also wrote everything in both English and Japanese. This allowed me to expand my range of audience.

My second criteria were to choose koto music that is at a high level to entertain and attract people. I followed this by asking Mr. Patterson for music and receiving private koto lessons from Leo, who also helped me arrange the koto pieces. My third criteria were to show improvement in my performance of koto. I had specific requirements I wanted to meet as addressed in my success criteria. Although I met most of my specifications and I am happy with my final recordings, I could always improve on producing clear sounds and making the dynamics more obvious.

My fourth criteria were to complete thorough research on the koto. Here I wanted to address a brief explanation, history of the koto with the Japanese culture and also how it is not well known in the world today, even in Japan. I was very successful at achieving these specifications since I met all of the requirements I wrote down in my success criteria (Appendix I). Something that I can improve on here is researching about how well known the koto is in other parts of the world other than Japan and America.

Finally, my last criteria were that the website should be easy to read and attractive. I wanted my labeling to be big, clear and simple for readers to easily find and comprehend the information. I also set the limit of the length of the page to 1~2 scrolls or less. I was able to meet all the specifications here since the titles and sections in each page are almost twice as big in font than the actual text. Referring back to my fourth criteria, I could have an individual page just for how much awareness has been raised across the world, rather than including it as part of the history. This will allow me to keep my blog pages short.

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