December Mid-Term Music Test Reflection

Since the beginning of the school year, I believe that I’ve seen quite a bit of personal growth as a musician both in terms of practical playing and theory work. I’ve enjoyed the practical playing work we’ve done in class, as it didn’t focus so much on playing in an ensemble (as previous years did) than it did on personal skill development. Perhaps this is because we are going into a jazz and blues composition unit, but I feel like the current in-class playing style is much better suited to my growth as a musician. Because it focuses on building up upon solid core concepts and nails down fundamentals like key signatures, it offers a lot more freedom to explore and improvise and I believe that is more important for me at this stage than always reading off the book.

In terms of my recent playing test, I think that despite of my growing confidence as a performer, I still have lots of room for improvement. My recent playing grade resulted in being lower than my first playing assessment (the Shenandoah recording), and I can pinpoint a couple reasons why this is. I am able to nail down the basics of playing such as rhythm, note accuracy, and tone, but I need significant work on the nuances such as dynamics and articulation.

Dynamics is a big area of improvement for me. In my blues solo recording, I felt that I didn’t observe the crescendo and decrescendo markings as well as I could have: instead of gradually swelling and becoming quieter throughout the course of one or two bars as the markings indicated, I implemented the markings too late, resulting in sudden changes in dynamics over the course of just one or two beats. In the future, I wish to improve on this through more practice and awareness of the nuances of the performance piece, but also through work on my air flow and control to achieve the intended effect. This can be done through physically noting down breath marks and practicing for longer periods of time to train my embouchure in becoming stronger and more precise. The issue with air flow and control also leads onto my next point: breathing and phrasing.

Adding on to the previous point, I could have done better on phrasing and making my breathing intentional. Sometimes, I ran out of breath before the end of a phrase, resulting in a sudden breath that interrupted the flow of the phrase, or involuntarily speeding up and getting louder. This can result in an incomplete, choppy feeling, which is not the most pleasant to listen to. Again, I think this can be improved through physically marking down breath marks and practicing the performance piece more to get a sense of the flow and good places to breathe. Additionally, I think I need to work on using my core and sitting with better posture when practicing and performing, enabling better airflow overall and increasing my stamina.

Finally, I think that my lower grade on this composition/playing test could also be perhaps indicative of areas of improvement in my composition skills. Looking back at this composition piece, I think I went a little bit too off the rails and did not utilise the taught concepts enough. I did not consider the chord progression and the 7-3 resolution as much as I could have, and I think it’s important to recognise at this novice stage the need to implement basic concepts, such as the 1-2-3-5 combination and using the dominant 7th. Despite perhaps the lack of creativity in these instances, they are proven to work in a blues solo and I think I lost sight of coherence in my pursuit for total creative freedom. I should have also worked more on connecting my solo with the original blues solo composed by Mr O’Toole, as the task required, by observing certain patterns like strings of eighth notes and marcato articulation markings.

However, despite the let-down in the playing assessment, I feel that I did very well on the theory assessment. The only two problematic areas that arose were minor scales and transposition. I still struggle with the minor scales a little bit, distinguishing between when to lower the 3-6-7 and when to just find the key of the relative major (and avoiding doing both.) However, this was not a big issue and I think with more practice this can easily be improved. I personally feel okay on my grasp of transposition, and I do not think my issues with transposition are big even now. I was generally in the ballpark of two or three semitones when my answers were incorrect, so I think I may have just rushed too much on the question. However, I definitely need to revise the transposition for some instruments, such as the tenor saxophone, and remembering certain characteristics of their transposition.

Overall, I feel confident going into the second semester of music, as despite my let-downs I feel that I have sufficiently recognised my areas for improvement and have recognised ways to improve as well. I will definitely try to put aside more time to practice my instrument as well not only because of an increased frequency of band performances immediately after the winter break, but also to make progress on these areas that I struggle in. I have thoroughly enjoyed this first semester of music 9, and I’m looking forwards to further improving myself (and the artist in residence!) in the second semester.

HKEWART ’17 – Day 5 Photo Journal

Today we did a silkscreen printing workshop with Hughie, one of the founders of a local printshop in Hong Kong. We went through the process of creating our own print screens with our designs, which we printed onto tshirts and tote bags. Here are some pictures from the day:

(putting the light reactive emulsion onto our screens)

(my finished silkscreen!)

(Hughie, who led our workshop)

(printing with the silkscreens!)

HKEWART ’17 – Day 4 Photo Journal

Today we visited a darkroom studio called The Photocrafters in Sheung Wan, where we developed our own analog black and white photographs that we took with our film cameras on Tuesday. Although tedious, the process was very interesting and hands on and demonstrates how sometimes, despite all you can control, you can’t 100% determine how the shot will turn out. Here are a couple of photos to document the day.


(Simon, the photographer we were working with, having a great time)

(the logo of the studio)

(the enlargers within the darkroom)

(a sneak peek at the final developed photos :))

HKEWART ’17 – Day 3 Photo Journal

Today was mostly spent at school doing stencil work along the LLAC staircase, and I partnered with Stephanie and Natalie to create a stencil artwork of a crying boy having his balloons being attacked by eye-bees (IB :)). The photo of the finished work is included below.

(the finished piece)

(Sorry there are only 3 pictures for this day! I didn’t get an opportunity to take more while working.)


HKEWART ’17 – Day 2 Photo Journal

The second day of the trip was spent taking photos with black and white film cameras around Central, as well as visiting an array of galleries nearby. I think my favourite parts of the day were the photography session around Man Mo Temple, the antique shops in the area (and what they had for sale!), and some of the pieces exhibited at the galleries we visited (one of them will be included in the photos below, likely created by DuChamp.) And of course, here are the photos:

(the lanterns inside of Man Mo Temple)

(trinkets on sale in the antique shops around Man Mo Temple and Cat Street)

(one of my favourite works that I saw in a gallery)

HKEWART ’17 – Day 1 Photo Journal

Our first day was spent at the Hong Kong campus of the Savannah College of Art and Design, or SCAD. Here, we participated in two separate workshops, one about product design and the other about magazine design and working with InDesign, as well as taking a tour of the campus. A couple of highlights throughout the day were definitely the collage making workshop, the tour we took around campus, and the absolutely wonderful interior decor in the cafe. The design and the art within SCAD come together beautifully and manage to encapsulate the diversity of student works while also remaining cohesive. Here are some photos I took throughout the day :

(this lovely neon sign on top of the cafe at SCAD!)

(Natalie, showing off her true talent as a model)

(a candid shot of Mrs Wong in the cafe)

(wall art on the outside of SCAD)