Design Day Term 1

Today was the first design day of the year and it was linked with our science class, which is currently focused on biology of the digestive system and cardiovascular system. We found out the thing we’ll be designing is a heart valve, or something that just works in the same way in that it is a one-way valve which would prevent the theoretical blood from flowing in the wrong direction in the heart. What we did today, after brainstorming in our groups of what we needed to focus on, was create prototypes of a heart valve. We were following the key rule of the day which was ‘fail fast.’ This meaning we had the chance to just mess around with materials trying to create something and testing to see if it would actually work. In my group we did have quite a good type blowing up balloons, attaching tubes to each other, etc. in an attempt to see what would work but in the end we didn’t come up with a prototype which was 100% successful. Our main problem was that we would create valves that would still allow a small amount of back-flow, no matter if it was a tiny amount. This means in terms of our prototypes they were all unsuccessful. What did work well though were the development of ideas. Now I have a much better idea of what I want to create and where I could go with my plans for designing this valve. A key takeaway for me in relation to building valves is that it’s very easy to make something that will allow liquid to flow through like in a heart but it’s difficult to find successful ways to stop all the liquid from going back through the other way. Another takeaway is that I’ll want to do some more research in to heart valves and valves in general (even just mechanical ones) as I need a better idea of the purpose of one-way valves and how they actually work. If I could do design day again with the knowledge I have now I think it would just mean creating more prototypes with my group and seeing where those would take us. Finally, I used to think that heart valves were a small part of the heart but now I fully understand how important they are for the heart and how cleverly engineered in the body they are.

Significant Events of the Twentieth Century

Posted above is a timeline my group and I made in history about significant events of the 20th century.

In my opinion the two most significant events of the 20th century were both of the world wars. Though it is the obvious answer, WWI and WWII both had significant effects on the way the world works today. During WWI, countries formed alliances and for the first time most of the world was invested in one war. This of course would lead to world war 2 after Germany began being led by Hitler. World War 2 was perhaps the most significant event of the 20th century as it changed the way the world was. Because of WWII, different countries became allies in trade and development. Quality of life changed for thousands of people, and the status and quality of life for those same people would undoubtedly be different had the war not happened or the other side had won. After the war, there came the baby boomer generation as well which affected the structure of population for many places as well. Both of these wars led to the development of a lot of new and improved science and technology, as well as international organisations such as the United Nations. Though I’ve only just started learning about the 20th century I can understand the world wars significantly changed the way the world works.

This is the video for our final drama performance of the year. Theatre in Education was definitely a harder unit as there was a lot to focus on in terms of how to engage a particular audience. This was a really interesting performance and unit as this was the first performance that we really created by ourselves. It was a long (and sometimes frustrating) journey of devising, writing and editing but I’m very happy with how my group and I finally did.

End of Year Music Reflection

This has been the first year of music lessons in school where we’ve had a full 80 minute period every other day and I believe that over the year with however many dozens of lessons we’ve had, I have progressed quite a lot in my understanding of theory, playing ability, composing, and knowledge of music history in all. This has also been the year that I have ultimately discovered how important music is to me for enjoyment and personal development. Though I will miss the group playing ability of our class that most definitely made Mr O’Toole proud and the almost constant banter, I am excited to be taking music next year in grade 10 and to see what kind of things we will learn then.

This past month has been very crowded with all sorts of tests in music and I think that the results of these tests prove my progression in music over the year. First of all we had our scales playing test where we had to record 6 different minor scales. I actually got full marks on this section which I am proud of and I think indicates overall my playing was very good for scales. This is indicative that my notes, rhythm, tempo, tone and connection were all accurate. In previous scales playing test I had good results as well but by listening to some of my older recorded scales I think that the more recent scales sound much nicer overall and I believe my confidence in playing these has gone up a lot, which may be part due to starting serious ABRSM flute exams which require quite a lot of scales to be done as well. The other practical playing test we had was the Etude playing test. The task was quite simply to play the Etude fully by ourselves. Going into the test I don’t think I was as confident or prepared as I would have liked to be but I still am proud of my end results. In the week leading up to the test I practiced extensively due to being unconfident with my ability playing the song before. At a point in class we had to try to play a phrase from the beginning of the piece by ourselves in an attempt to see how long we could hold our breath and even though I technically could do it at that point, I get huge anxiety in situations where we have to play by ourselves in front of others. I did a completely horrible job of playing that day in class and spent the rest of the lesson trying to calm myself down from that situation but I knew this meant I had to practice, lest I have a complete breakdown in front of Mr O’Toole during the playing test itself. It’s a common situation to be able to play better by yourself at home alone but despite this, on the day of the test I think I did quite well. Judging from the results of the test, the comments I received was that I had a clear beginning, the shape of the melody was addressed musically, I didn’t stop when I had errors, good breath control and shaping of the notes but that I should watch my pitch as the notes become higher. I think this is all really valid feedback that I will take into account as I assume that as time goes on, flutes may have to play higher melodies and it would be horrible if it was pitchy. In terms of each section of the test I had substantial note accuracy, which I believe in part is due to the nerves of playing. Overall I managed to contain them quite well and since the Etude was a reasonably long piece, I think my playing ability and confidence was highest at the end. I received an excellent in rhythm accuracy, articulation precision, dynamics, tone quality, intonation, tempo appropriateness, connection and also got a comment that I had a beautiful tone in playing which I am super duper happy with. I am extremely happy in all of how my flute playing has progressed through the year and I can hope that this continues through the next three years of high school in terms of my musical ability and my confidence in my playing. The biggest goal I have for my playing now is to improve my confidence in performing which may mean not just in music but my presentation skills as well.  I would also like to take my dynamics, connection and articulation further in terms of ability as I think this would help me add more expression to what I play and thus sound better.

Another big test this month was the theory test and I feel like my grade this term was due to a combination of having my final science test on the same day (as well as having a billion other tests) and having less time to study. Originally I wrote in this reflection about having a 6/8 on the test but recently it has come to light that some things marked on the test by a peer as wrong were actually right so now I have a 7 on the test. This is the same grade I got on the previous theory test so it may be a sign that I haven’t progressed much but I am still proud of it. This time I didn’t have as much time to study for the test itself and also last time we had a whole unit of theory before the test which may of been why this test felt more difficult than last time. The areas that I still would like to improve on are transposition and identifying elements of composition (cadences and passing/neighbour tones) as these are the sections I struggled on the most. Also for triads and seventh chords I believe I still need to improve on identifying the type of chords but this relates to knowing the major and minor key signatures better.

Finally the last test type things we had were a jazz presentation and the composition. Overall with both of these I have improved immensely and I’m proud of this as it shows my growth in presentation skills as well as theory knowledge. This year has been tremendously good for me in music and I think this has helped me a lot with personal growth. This is the first year when I feel a lot more comfortable with my playing and although I would still like to work on my confidence in presentation and performance, my confidence in my self has increased ten-fold over the year. A good example I can think of to prove this is that for the last two years I have done flute exams. My most recent one was the week before the etude playing test. Whereas last year I was very nervous and made many note mistakes in not just the piece but the sight-reading as well, this year from my experience it sounded much better and even my teacher who accompanied me during my pieces said I sounded a lot more comfortable with my playing and that I have grown so much this year musically. That is why this year I think I have most exhibited the learner profile of risk-taker as I have pushed myself to try and grow more in situations despite sometimes being incredibly nervous about them. This doesn’t mean I am perfectly adept at confidence and performing now but I think being a risk-taker means really having a long learning journey and pushing yourself all the way through for personal growth. I will definitely continue this push of myself next year and continue taking risks in music to achieve confidence in myself and my musical ability.

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Grade 9 Theory Test May 15 9Mus1 (1) (dragged) 1

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Grade 9 Theory Test May 15 9Mus1 (1) (dragged) 3

Ternary Composition Reflection

It’s been a long process but we’ve finally completed out ternary composition unit. Throughout the process I feel like I have learned a lot about composing music. It didn’t start with just going head on into a melody but rather we took it one step at a time. Starting with learning the rules of an interesting, balanced rhythm and then onto making a simple melody. It became more complex as we had to add in chords and cadences to go with the phrases and match the melody but at the end of it now I feel as if I have a much greater understanding of composition now and why certain things sound good compared with other things and really what makes them sound good. I think that I am going away from this unit with a greater appreciation for composers and greater knowledge of how they work. Overall I believe it has been the most valuable unit in the year so far and that I will have the most to take away to apply in the future. Since I still have an interest in music, no matter if I take DP music or not, I will still be able to compose my own pieces in my own time. Before the unit, composing seemed like an extremely daunting task but now it is far more to me then a seemingly random arrangement of notes and chords so hopefully I will be able to see that in other pieces now.

Moving onto my own composition I feel quite proud of it. It did get quite a positive reception from peers at the final playthrough but most of all I feel very accomplished with it and though it may not be as dynamic or complex as some of the other pieces composed by my more musically inclined peers it is something I created myself that sounds good to me and I feel a great sense of achievement. To evaluate my composition, I had many of the peers in my music class comment on my blog based against the composition rubric and the overwhelming consensus was that the piano piece was too loud in comparison to the flute. Apart from that I didn’t receive much other constructive criticism but I now want to evaluate my final piece against the rubric myself. Overall I feel I have excellent rhythmic and melodic balance and a difference between phrases. Someone commented on my blog that although the A and B sections were very different (and I almost feared they were too different) they worked well together and you could tell they were from the same piece. Another aspect that was questioned was the playability. Specifically in the end when the final notes go from around an e6 to g6, some questioned on my blog post whether these notes were easy to play or not and in answer to that I would say to a new player they would be difficult but most flute players in our grade would be able to play those notes (and many of the notes are what we have to play in band anyway!!) I included performance directions such as dynamics, tempo though perhaps a bit lacking in articulation. I received comments saying my transitions between dynamics (use of crescendos and decrescendos) helped smooth them out and this was something I had changed after my draft when I had a peer tell me some of the dynamics changed too suddenly. In addition to this I feel I had appropriate and accurately labelled chords in the final piece that matched the tone of the piece. Finally a majority of the people that commented believed I had a highly convincing and interesting piece of music which means I obviously did something right. In conclusion for my composition, some improvements I could make would be to fix the dynamics of the piano section and to add articulation to make the piece more interesting overall.

Finally as I said earlier this was a very informative and interesting unit that I will be able to carry into many future things. I am proud of what I’ve accomplished in this unit and though there was room for improvement, overall I composed a successful and interesting piece of music.

Ternary Composition Summative

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Based on comments made by peers I have edited my last draft into my final composition. Some of the edits I made were dynamic based, as I received feedback that in the A section the piano counterpart was too loud compared to flute melody. I also added more crescendos and decrescendos through the piece so the change in dynamics wouldn’t be too drastic. The other main detail I changed was to add some alberti bass to the piano section of parts of my B section as that was what 2 of my peer reviewers pointed out. Though they suggested the get rid of the whole notes altogether I retained them in the first two bars of the B section as I thought it fit the shift in mood better.

8 Bar Melody Final

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Here is my final 8 Bar Melody that will be built upon to create the final composition. I have made some adjustments to my previous melody to create an overall better melody. I have taken into consideration the feedback I received from peers to review and change parts of my melody. Such as something all of my peers commented upon was the plagal cadence which was originally in the 4th bar. Despite sounding sweet, it did give the feeling that the melody was over so based on this I changed the notes and chords in the 4th bar to create an imperfect cadence that leads on the next phrases. Another thing I’ve changed is that in my last draft, in the 6th bar there was a repeating E note. As this does not push the melody along well and keep the flow I have changed this so it can continue the flow and sound more interesting. I have changed a similar thing in the final bar as well in that where there used to be the eighth notes going C D C D, they now lead into the final note. I believe that these revisions have bettered my melody and will help me create a much stronger sounding composition in the end.