Here is a recording of Finale playing my solo (I couldn’t figure out how to add a swing feel on Finale).
The first few months this year has been quite successful for me in terms of music class. I think my playing skills, especially on the xylophone, have improved quite a lot since last year, and I have gained more confidence in my playing skills. I have learned a lot about music theory and composition, as I did not know as much about triads, chords, transposition and how to successfully compose a jazz solo last year.
Solo Composition and Playing:
I’m happy with my performance on my playing tests. I got quite a lot of positive feedback on both performances and I think I demonstrated most of the skills required. For the recent playing test, some of my strengths were that I played the notes and rhythm of the piece accurately. I was able to play at the same tempo throughout the entire performance without noticeably speeding up or slowing down. This also reflected the appropriateness of the tempo, as I did not pick a tempo that was too fast or slow for me.
However, there are two things I would like to work on- dynamics and tone quality. I did try to incorporate crescendos and decrescendos in the first 12 measures of the piece, but after that, I mostly played my solo at the same volume. When writing my composition, I did not place much emphasis on dynamics- I focussed more on incorporating the 7-3 resolution and adding chords we had practiced using in class. Next time, I would like to try adding more dynamics to my composition to add more contrast and make it more interesting.
I would also like to focus on my tone quality. I have noticed that when playing on the xylophone, it can sound uneven at times, as I tend to hit one mallet with slightly more force than the other. I tried to focus on this when practicing for the playing test and I have improved my tone quality quite a bit since last year, but I would like to continue practicing hitting both mallets using the same amount of force and I will continue to keep this in mind during future performances.
Next time when I work on a composition, I need to continue to keep the 7-3 resolution and other concepts in mind, as some notes in parts of my composition were not the most appropriate. For example, in the last measure, instead of using the 3rd or 7th note of the chord progression, I chose to end the measure with the 4th note. Although I did a relatively good job with this composition, I still need to keep this in mind.
I think I did relatively well on my theory test, as I got most questions correct related to key signatures, minor scales, intervals, triads/7th chords, and inversion. However, one concept I need to work on would be transposition. I made several mistakes and lost several marks in this section of the test. I think one reason why I didn’t do as well was that I didn’t practice this concept enough on my own before the test. I was still slightly unsure about whether my method of transposition was correct, and I didn’t set enough time to prepare for the test than I could have. Next time, if I am unsure about a subject on the theory test, I will ask my classmates or Mr. O’Toole for clarification before the test, and I will also manage my time so I am adequately prepared for a test, despite other extracurricular commitments or school work.
I look forward to music class in the future and learning more about jazz while playing new pieces of music!
I chose to play my solo live, but here is an audio recording of it:
I couldn’t figure out how to add a swing feel to my composition in Finale Notepad, so the audio recording doesn’t have a swing feel.
Here’s the recording: