Throughout this year I’ve learned a lot more about my playing strengths and weaknesses. In general, I think some of my strengths include note accuracy and intonation. I am able to play the notes of a scale or melody accurately through practicing specific sections specifically to become more familiar with them. At the beginning of the year, I wasn’t too aware of intonation and I wasn’t able to tell if a note was sharp or flat. However, now that I’ve spent a lot more time tuning my instrument to a pitch, I feel more familiar with identifying a sharp or flat note. This allows me to play in tune more because I can listen to other people, and I’ve developed a habit of tuning my instrument every time. Some of my weaknesses include tempo, rhythm accuracy and articulation precision. When the rhythm is very simple, I can count it easily, but when it starts to get more complicated with a lot more note so the off beat, I easily lose count and start to either speed up or slow down. For example, because the playing tests I did in the beginning of the year had easier rhythms to count, I was able to have better rhythm accuracy and tempo. However, as the recent playing test was a jazz solo had a lot more complex rhythms and syncopation, I had more difficulty counting it. Having to play with the backing track was also a challenge because I had to make sure I was always on beat with the track. To improve on this I should keep practicing with a metronome and make sure I lock in the tempo each time I play. From the feedback, I also need to improve on my melodic shape and dynamics, so maybe I could pay more attention to playing the solo with more “feeling” (making some of the higher notes bolder than the lower ones).
This year I’ve definitely learned many new theory concepts that I’ve learned to apply to other things. Although I had learnt theory before, I felt like I didn’t really have an in depth understanding of it, so by going through each concept this year I’ve been able to have a better understanding. It was also good to be able to review simpler concepts that I had learnt before (e.g. key signatures). One of the newer concepts learnt this year were 7th chords. I found this confusing at first but after practicing and understanding how they were made I am now able to create 7th chords fairly easily. I think this was also one of the concepts that I was able to apply to other things more. For example, as jazz uses a lot of 7th chords, I was able to use them to compose a jazz solo much more easily. As for outside of class situations, I’m also able to have a much better understanding of how guitar chords are formed now. Learning about chords in composition also helped me understand how songs were composed, and made the whole process of composition much easier. Something that I still need to improve on is transposition, especially between two instruments that are not in concert pitch. I always get confused by whether I should be transposing up or down, and the key signatures. I could improve on this by doing more transposition questions to become more familiar with it. I also need to become more familiar with scale degrees, and make sure I am counting the right way when trying to figure it out. Overall, I think I’ve improved my theory this year and have learnt many new concepts. Here is the theory test I completed for May.
Personal Development + IB Learner Profiles
Throughout this year, I’ve been able to improve on my playing, theory and knowledge of other musical forms which was really interesting. Through learning about jazz, I’ve been able to appreciate it a lot more, and find enjoyment in the different styles. From this I’ve learned to be a lot more open-minded towards other musical styles, especially ones that I am not familiar with as they are all very distinctly different. Before this year I hadn’t had much exposure to jazz, so it was really interesting for me to be able to compose my own jazz solo and learn about the history of jazz.
Through practicing I’ve also become more independent and reflective because each time I practice I have to be recognizing my weaknesses and focusing more on those areas to improve. By using the iFolio as a way to keep track of my progress, I’ve also been able to look back and see how I’ve improved, and what else I need to work on. One of the major areas I feel like I’ve improved on for playing this year is scales. As I am more familiar with key signatures and relative majors/minors, I can play scales from memory much better now than I could at the beginning of the year. I also understand the theory concepts much better now, especially since they had to be applied to composition (chords, cadences) and playing (transposition, scales).