End of Year Music Reflection

Playing Test: Étude

Student reflects with connections and transfers knowledge in response to the following;

  • Note accuracy, Rhythm accuracy, Articulation precision, Dynamics, Tone quality, Intonation, Tempo appropriateness, Connection.

At first glance, the Étude looked like an easy piece, nowhere near even as difficult as the pieces we played in band. However, after scrutinising over the piece for dynamics, breathing, articulation and all the other bits and pieces that made up the song, I discovered exactly how challenging this seemingly easy exercise was. The piece, to me, was not technically difficult, but trying to follow every single dynamic and breathing mark, especially under the pressure of test conditions, was a bit difficult.

While playing the piece during the test, I felt that I was rather accurate in terms of notes, though I feel that the slight slip-up at the climax of the song really caught me off guard for a few bars after it. The rhythm on the other hand, from what I could hear, had quite a few errors. Several of the joined eighth notes were played like a dotted eighth note followed by a sixteenth note and vice-versa.

Holding the slurs for their entire value was difficult at times as it was difficult for me to hold my breath for such a long duration of time. I tried countering that by speeding the song’s tempo up slightly, though I still found it difficult to hold my breath for some of the longer phrases, and I ended up breathing before the end of the slur in several instances. However, I think that even when I was running out of air that there was no deterioration in sound quality, and I managed to breathe before it became too obvious that I was running out of breath. The increase in tempo seemed to have no impact on any other aspect of the piece, and it didn’t seem to change the mood of the piece at all, so I think it was appropriate.

The mixing of slurs and tongues in the piece were somewhat difficult for me to keep up with when playing the piece, as I have a habit of holding slurs all the way to the end of a bar where there are two groups of slurred notes separated by a tongued note, and I end up including that note that was supposed to be tongued in the slur. Within the slurs, my connection between notes was otherwise okay. Dynamics was the most difficult thing for me to focus on during the piece, as I spent a lot of my concentration on keeping the tempo steady and getting the correct notes. I really tried my best to have dynamic contrast but I think I overestimated my ability to play pianissimo quietly enough, especially on the last note of the piece, which had a bit of deterioration in sound quality and pitch accuracy as I was trying to get the note quieter.

Written Test: Grade 9 Theory Test 2015

Student reflects with excellent connections  and effectively transfers knowledge in response to the following;

  • Understanding of theory concepts.
  • Personal Development.
  • IB Learner Profile.

I understood most of the questions on the theory test, but the one section that struck me as the most difficult was transposition, where I only got one out of the three questions in the section correct. Transposition is not something that I study often, though I think looking back on this test and the previous theory test, this is something that deserves much more practice than I give it. The difficulty of remembering the intervals between different instruments and concert pitch, as well as which direction the interval goes in, is what makes this section much more challenging for me than the others. It lacks clear, repetitive patterns that are present in sections such as scales and triads, and each instrument has a different, nearly random key.

I think I improved much more on the key signature and seventh-chord sections from the last test. I don’t think I struggled with figured bass in the previous test, as I got all the questions relating to figured bass correct though the exclusion of it in this test may have made it a bit easier overall.

Overall, in terms of the IB learner profile, the attribute I think which most reflects my performance in this year’s music course is principled. This is because I tried to be disciplined in handing my homework assignments in on time, studying and practicing for tests and performances, and putting effort into all my presentations and group activities. The learner profile attribute I think I need to work on the most would be risk-taker. In reflecting back on the year, I realised I have taken many safe choices instead of going outside of my comfort zone, such as in my choice of instrument.

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