Responding – End of Year Reflection

by Michael on November 29, 2016


After doing my live scale playing, overall I think I did okay. I played E major 8th notes, G major 16th notes, and Chromatic scale starting on G 8th notes. My note accuracy was quite good for G major and G chromatic, but I forgot to play the G sharp on E major when descending, this was because I was too focused on getting the rhythm right and wasn’t so focused on the notes. I think the only thing that could be improved for rhythm accuracy is my breathing when playing sixteenth notes. I always have to skip the 8th 16th note whenever I want to breath, or else I will drag a bit after breathing. I tried breathing every 4 notes so my breathe would be shorter, as I would still have some air. If I were to breathe on the 8th note of the scale, my breathe would be longer as I would be completely out of breath. I think my articulation was good for for the scales, I may have occasionally messed up the tonguing on the sixteenth notes, but otherwise everything else seems good. I think I controlled my notes well, I practiced a lot of low notes to practice controlling pitch. Most of the notes are only in the midrange, so I could control those well.


I think I played Gavotte very well, I made sure my dynamics were distinct and my articulation was clearly noticed. I practiced the staccatos a lot, at that speed it’s not very easy to play the staccatos short and precise. My slurs were also played right when necessary. I only breathed on the breath marks, as I thought that was also an appropriate place to breathe. When playing loud, it is easy for me to lose my breath, causing me to breathe when not appropriate, so I practiced controlling my loud playing, making sure I didn’t use too much air playing that short part. Overall, my playing for both scales and Gavotte met my expectations, and I think I did well.


After marking my own theory test, I was disappointed when I found I only got 46.5/65 and was only at a level 5 for this test, as I learn two instruments at a high level outside of school. I was expecting a 6, knowing that my playing is much better than my theory, but I ended up not meeting my expectations.

Things to improve

One part of the test that really lowered my grade was the intervals, I only got 2/10 of those right. This isn’t because of careless mistakes, but simply because I didn’t study them as much as other parts. My 7th chords also weren’t done well. I did study them, but I never understood it clearly leading me to leave out certain sharps or flats that would have obviously been there. My transposition of clefs wasn’t good, as I wasn’t sure on what order to write the key signatures for tenor and alto clef, and I wrote the alto clef one octave down. I was most disappointed on my scales, as they should have been all correct. D flat minor is impossible, as the corresponding major wouldn’t be two notes above D, which lead me to think that I should just write C sharp minor in the notes of a D scale, but that wasn’t correct.

Things I did well

The parts that I did well on were transposition of instruments, which I got 5/5 on both questions. The instruments given were Alto and Tenor sax, which is lucky for me as I play both of those instruments, but i’m sure I could have done just as well if given other instruments.  I did revise a lot for triads, as I previously didn’t understand well. That is shown to have been useful for me, as I got 10/10 for that area. Overall, I think I could have done better, but I understand what I done wrong and could improve for next time.

Personal Development Over the Year

After half a year’s worth of practicing playing and theory, I found that both my playing and theory has improved. Playing the tenor saxophone for the first time this year has been fun, and a good choice that I made at the beginning of the year. As I learn the alto outside of school, I enjoy playing the tenor at school so I can learn both at the same time, and I now have experience with two types of saxophones, and maybe a third one in the future. I remember the first day I tried the tenor sax, I couldn’t even play a single note and constantly squeaked. Now, I can play it almost as good as my alto playing, and it has also trained my lower note control, making it easier to play low notes on both the tenor and the alto. This shows that I have improved quite a lot from the beginning of the year in terms of playing, which probably came from my constant practice times. Last year with Mr. Dacho, we weren’t expected to keep a practice diary. This year, the practice diary kept me practicing at least once every two days, allowing me to keep improving instead of staying at the same level from the beginning. I haven’t practiced much for theory since the beginning of the year apart from the time we were given in class, which then led me to only get a 5/8 on my theory test.

IB Learner Profile

Choosing to play the tenor saxophone this year has been a new experience for me that I thought I would have never chose to do. I couldn’t even play a single note on it when I first started playing, but still chose to continue with it for the rest of the year. This is evidence of me trying something new and developed the risk-taker attribute.


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