Monday, 16 June 2014

Personal Addition - Choral CD Review

This is a CD Review project for Choir. I thought I'd share it on my blog as a personal addition, seeing as music is a big part of my life.

Choir: Prairie Voices

Album: Awakenings

The music on this album is performed in English, Spanish, Creole, Estonian and an unnamed African language.


1. The Sweetheart of the Sun - Eric William Barnum (Click for link to performance. From here you can also stream or buy the rest of the album.)
2. Hold Me, Rock Me - Brian Tate
3. Awakening I - Puerta Del Ser - Sid Robinovitch
4. Awakening II - Giran Las Días - Sid Robinovitch
5. Awakening III - Todo Está Quieto - Sid Robinovitch
6. Kalinda - Sydney Guillaume
7. Meestelaulud I - Meeste Laul - Veljo Tormis
8. Meestelaulud VIII - Tantuslaul - Veljo Tormis
9. Job, Job - arr. Stephen Hatfield
10. Voice Dance - Greg Jasperse
11. Kasar Mie La Gaji - Alberto Grau
12. Battle of Jericho - arr. Moses Hogan
13. Four Shakespeare Songs I - Come Away Death - Jaako Mäntyjärvi
14. Four Shakespeare Songs II - Lullaby - Jaako Mäntyjärvi
15. Four Shakespeare Songs III - Double, Double, Toil and Trouble - Jaako Mäntyjärvi
16. Four Shakespeare Songs IV - Full Fathom Five - Jaako Mäntyjärvi
17. He'll Make A Way - Byron J. Smith

I'll comment on a few of the tracks below.

#1. Sweetheart of the Sun has become by far my favourite track here. As a composition it's just beautiful, and here Prairie Voices does an amazing job with the dynamics, growing through longer held notes, and, when necessary, staying at the same dynamic and letting the chord be enjoyed as it is. The words "black" and "poppies" in particular are stressed very effectively and appropriately.

#2. Hold Me, Rock Me was also performed really nicely. It starts off with a beautiful unison melody in the sopranos, which, in this recording, is near perfectly blended and sung. All the entrances and motion during the verses are heard very clearly here under the melody. We sang this piece this year in Choir!

#3. Awakening I - Puerta Del Ser (Door of the Being) was very nice. I love that no matter what Prairie Voices always sings with good tone and tuning. I felt that at the beginning and at a few spots later in the song that one of the Sopranos tended to stick out of the sound and was also a little flat.

#4. Awakening II - Giran Las Días (The Days Spin/Turn) was fantastic. I loved the piece and the choir had really great energy when they sang it. Their sound was powerful, but it never was shouty and their tuning held up nicely because of that. The men did a great job of stressing the word "errantes" in particular during their soli section. I wanted to hear a little more from the women and altos during their soli; they weren't quite strong enough for me.

#5. Awakening III - Todo Está Quieto (Everything is Still) was performed very sensitively; the choir did a fantastic job of making sure the soloist was heard over them. The soloist was very effective when she waited for a while on longer notes to switch from straight tone to vibrato. She didn't ever try to be very loud and flashy, and the result was beautiful.

The arranger of "Job, Job", Stephen Hatfield, also arranged "Jabula Jesu", which we also sang this year in Choir.

Favourite song: Sweetheart of the Sun. I love the close harmonies and dissonances in this piece, especially during the second half. The two climax sections of this piece are just perfect to me — both are so emotional, with thick harmonies, the second featuring a soaring melody in the sopranos.

Least favourite song:  I am not really a fan of Kasar Mie La Gaji. Alberto Grau seems to be just messing around a little with this piece. Maybe he wanted it to be different, but it didn't suit my taste I found the falls at the end of each phrase at first to be unique and maybe an interesting thing to do for the beginning of the piece, but by the second minute they annoyed me. There are too many short phrases and too few long ideas, all delivered using the same four words. Some of chords were nice, but they fell off and died very quickly. All in all, I like some of the ideas in this piece, but feel that the composer just took it in the wrong direction.

I would definitely listen to this Choir again and recommend them to anyone looking for some quality choral music to enjoy.

Six Word Memoir: Confession

Photo by Raman Job

This Six Word Memoir is pretty much exactly what it looks like; I never learned to ride a bike. I think I must have had one with training wheels at some point, but I never learned to ride without them. I tried once when I was younger, and stopped after a couple of minutes because I was too scared of falling. Since then I just never cared enough to learn, and at this age it would be rather embarassing to learn. I chose the font because the faded look almost makes it seem like it's hiding out of embarassment, which is fitting for a confession.

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Six Word Memoir: Me

Photo by Ryan Job

Neither side of my family has been in Canada very long, especially when you consider that some families have been living here since the eighteenth, or even seventeenth centuries. Both of my paternal grandparents are German, and came to Canada from Europe during World War II — my grandmother from Germany, and my grandfather from Poland. My mom came to Canada with her family in 1975 because of a bloody coup d'état in Chile. I'm always very proud to discuss my heritage, and also the sacrifices and hard work by my grandparents once they arrived here. Finally, of course, I was born here in Canada, and am so grateful for the amazing country in which I live. I could have used another comma after "Chilean", but instead I used a hyphen for effect. I chose the font because it looked very bold and "in-your-face", which represents the pride I feel for my mixed heritage.

Six Word Memoir: Love (Father's Day)

(I chose the picture below for obvious reasons. I chose the font because it looked very modern, which fits in with me talking about how cool my Dad is.)

Photo by Dora Job

Happy Father's Day!

My dad, despite all of the bad jokes he makes and quirky things about him, is one of the coolest people I know. Even though these days he is incredibly busy, he always makes sure he's doing whatever he can to help me with what I need — whether it's driving me to his office late at night to print out schoolwork because our printer isn't working, bringing me things I need when I'm at school, giving me advice on assignments, or just making sure I'm well rested and prepared for the day, he's always willing to do anything for me. He's always been so supportive of me in everything I do (you don't want to know how many concerts of mine he's had to sit through). He puts up with me when I'm tired and don't treat him very nicely, and best of all, he always lets me know in some way that he loves me and cares about what goes on in my life. I'm lucky to have him.

I love you, dad.

Six Word Memoir: Family

Photo by Ryan Job

This is my dog. His name is Chewey (the second e is meant to be there), not because of the Star Wars character Chewbacca, but because when he was small he liked to chew up and destroy things, and we were original enough (haha) to name him after that. He's about 8 or 9, but it feels like we've had him around forever. He doesn't really do anything other than eat, go on walks, and lay around the house, but somehow he still manages do things that make us laugh every day. He is just about the sweetest and most mellow dog in the world. He really is a part of our family, and that's why I've included him in my Six Word Memoirs. I chose the font because it struck me as a little nostalgic, and having had our dog for so long, it kind of fit.

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Six Word Memoir: My Future

Photo by Noel Pagaduan

Music is something that means a lot to me, and having kids is something that I really want for my future, so it makes sense that I would put these two things together. When my kids are old enough to play an instrument or sing, I want to make music with them. My dad and I sing together at home from time to time and have performed for small events three or four times, and when we do we always enjoy it a lot, so that's definitely something I want for me and my kids when I reach that point in my life. The photo is of us singing at a church talent show earlier this year. 

Six Word Memoir: Growing Up

Photo by Ryan Job

Graduation is a milestone that people spend a lot of time and effort and money making sure is celebrated. I'm not really sure how I feel about it. I'd say that by now I'm ready to leave and for high school to be over, but at the same time, there are a lot of things about high school  that I will definitely miss. Right now I see my friends every day. I have a few friends in younger grades that I won't see nearly as often once I've graduated, and I'm a little bit afraid that I might not see those friends who are graduating with me as often, either. I'll also definitely miss the music program here, which has been a huge part of my life since Grade 9, and has been especially in Grade 12. 
Obviously, I chose to use my grad photo for the visual because graduation is what this Six-Word Memoir is about. I chose the font simply because I liked the look of it and it wasn't flashy/fancy to the point of distracting from the message, and the image is faded because it fits in well with the theme of high school being almost done and in the past.

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

My Buried Life

Author's Note

There aren't very many things that make you think about yourself, your friends, your family, your values, and your life quite like writing a bucket list does. I've tried to make this as sincere as I could - I wanted this list, as much as possible, to reflect my passions, values, and interests. Chief among them is music; it's something that has been very important to me for a long time. It really feels good to sit back and listen to something that sounds not just cool, but also beautiful; even better is the feeling when you're playing or singing and you know you're creating something beautiful. Until a couple of years ago, languages were almost an obsessive hobby for me. For a while now, I haven't really spent any time learning new languages, but I still appreciate and enjoy hearing different languages, speaking the ones that I know, and I hope to learn a few more before I die.

I hope this list gives you a bit of a sense of who I am. Thanks for reading!

1. Perfect my Spanish.
2. Perfect my French.
3. Learn German.
4. Go to Europe.
5. Meet my family in Germany.
6. Go to Chile and meet my family there.
7. Get married in one of these.*
    Photo by user More Good Foundation on Flickr. Creative Commons Licence
8. Have kids.
9. Study music in University.
10. Join Prairie Voices.
11. Sing an Eric Whitacre piece in a choir.
12. Compose a great choral work and have it published.
13. See Pentatonix live.
14. Go to Japan.
15. Visit every province in Canada.
16. See the Eric Whitacre Singers live.
17. Give my kids great names.
18. Learn to cook.
19. Keep in touch with friends after high school.
20. Learn to play the piano.
21. Have a job that I love.
22. Own a home.
23. Get to know my Dad's side of the family
24. Learn to play the Cello.
25. Learn to play a brass instrument.
26. Continue to learn to be less socially awkward.
27. Make many friends from different cultures.
28. Climb a mountain.
29. Do humanitarian work in a developing country.
30. Learn how to code something useful.
31. Exercise more.
32. Go on a tour of Parliament in Ottawa.*
      Photo by user West Annex News. Creative Commons Licence.
33. Live in another country.
34. Become close with one of my cousins.
35. Stay close with at least one friend for a lifetime.
36. Write a great original story.
37. Write beautiful poetry.
38. Invent something.
39. Serve a mission for my church.
40. Have a jam session with many instruments and some quality recording equipment at my disposal.
41. Conduct a great choir.
42. Learn how to record and mix quality audio.
43. Learn how to record and edit quality video.
44. Raise a musical family.
45. Write great original songs and have them produced.
46. Represent Canada officially at some kind of international event, competition, or festival.*
      Photo by Jared Grove. Creative Commons Licence
47. Remain friends with the band/music teachers after high school.
48. Live comfortably.
49. Don't overwork myself.
50. Get more sleep.

*The photo in the video is a photo of a laptop screen showing the original photo. You can't really tell in the video.

Now What?

Prairie Voices is an award-winning community choir with singers aged 18 - 25. They're amazing and I love listening to them (performance samples here and here.)

One of my bucket list items (number ten on the list here) is to join Prairie Voices. This weekend, starting on Friday they're having auditions for next year's choir and I'll be auditioning on Sunday. This is my "Now What?"

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

So What? Quick Write

Image: "Spider Hunter" by Nikita Veprikov

I think that with this image the artist wants us to think about the fact that there are always stories starting, progressing and ending around us, even though we might not see. Few people would notice this scene playing out if they passed by; you can see in the background blades of grass that seem huge, meaning that the Spider Hunter is probably very small and not easily noticed. The other thing the artist could have wanted us to think about is not to be overconfident in any situation. We can see that the image is seen from a hole of some kind, possibly in a tree. Something is hiding there and waiting for the perfect moment to attack.

Monday, 5 May 2014

TED Talk Refection - Chris Hadfield

In this TED talk, Chris Hadfield speaks about his experiences as an astronaut on the International Space Station and how they relate to overcoming fear. Basically the message I took from the video is that fear holds us back, and that overcoming it can allow us to have some of the most amazing experiences of our lives.

It's a message that couldn't really be considered new. Much fewer of us would care to watch a video about overcoming fear if it didn't include a famous astronaut. While it's Chris Hadfield's fame that attracts people to the video, it's his stories, told so visually and in so much detail, that makes this talk and keeps people watching it for the entire eighteen minutes.

Also, if his astronaut stories didn't make him cool enough, he finishes off his talk singing "Space Odyssey", by David Bowie.

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Quick Write - The Worst Meal

The worst meal would smell vaguely like something you like to eat. It would almost "fake you out" for a few seconds - it might even succeed in doing so for just long enough for you to take a bite. Most likely though, you would notice before then that it smelled "off", and that it was hiding a nasty stench underneath; as if it just came off of the bottom of a McDonald's fryer or the side and corners of the grill. The stench would be so rotten, you would swear that it was left there for months. If you were unfortunate enough to taste it, you would find out that it tastes like fire kindling and thick blood.

Quick Write - Eden

My personal Eden would be be very modern, with buildings and technology mostly like those you would see in any average - large city. The biggest difference in the cityscape would be that there would be much more green space, especially downtown. The people would be respectful to and mindful of one another. This place would be functionally bilingual at the very least - not only legally bilingual. It would be a very multicultural place, and the temperatures year round would vary from around -20C to 20C. There would be a few mountains very near the city to one side and rolling hills to the other.

Oops, not many visuals here - sorry.

Monday, 28 April 2014

Skype Reflection #2

1. What went well in today's Skype conversation?

The presentations, in general, were well received. The kids seemed to enjoy them and were excited to answer questions from the presenters and from their Ms. Bettess.

2. What is the value in collaborating with the Grade 3 class?

I think it's a great way to see and appreciate the work and preparation that goes into teaching kids, and at the same time making it fun and interesting for them, and also the work that goes into teaching in general.

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Procedural Writing - How Best to Eat Oreos

Photo by user Jellaluna on Flickr
Creative Commons Licence

Step One:

Get a box of Oreos and some milk.

Photo by Katherine Anderson
Creative Commons Licence

Step Two:

Get a cup and a fork.

Photo by user @Doug88888 on Flickr
Creative Commons Licence

Step Three:

Take an Oreo and carefully push your fork through the middle.

Photo by user hjhipster on Flickr
Creative Commons Licence

Step Four:

Using your fork, dunk the entire Oreo in your cup of milk. Soak it.

Photo by user Phoenix7782 on Flickr
Creative Commons Licence

Step Five:

Eat it!

Monday, 21 April 2014

Haiku Deck - Photo Credits

The link to my Ignite Presentation is above.
Photo credits - Slides 7, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17: Ryan Job
The credits for all other slides (except slide 20 - no picture) can be seen by clicking on the Creative Commons logo in the top left corner of the slide.

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Mid Semester Reflection

1) Six Word Memoirs

Grade: Incomplete

I'm giving myself an incomplete on this assignment because I haven't yet handed it in. I didn't really have many pictures to work with, and I also didn't have very much motivation to take any. I will try to finish this assignment sometime soon. I don't want to sound like I don't care to finish it right away, but I do have a lot of upcoming performances with school groups coming up, and I need to prepare. The lack of time is my fault for being involved in so many ensembles, but in any case, I will try very soon to finish this assignment.

2) Ignite Presentation

Grade: B

I would probably be giving myself an A on this assignment if not for the fact that I presented two days late. I thought I prepared well for the presentation and that it went well when the time came for me to actually present. I did a good job on the content of my presentation, but I do feel that I shouldn't have been reading directly from my paper quite as much as I was. Doing this assignment, I learned that I can be more productive by simply writing without judging what I write, and later revising.

3) Blogging

Grade: C

I have only posted a couple of personal additions since the start of the course, so obviously I could be doing more there. I also could be doing more to make sure I post all of my blog assignments on time. Finally, I haven't really been posting comments on other blogs at all so far. It should be fairly easy for me to improve in these areas if I try. So, for these reasons I think I deserve a C in the area of blogging.

4) Connecting and Engaging

Grade: A

Frankly, I don't think I need much improvement in this area. I comment whenever there is a class discussion on cre8tivehavoc (for the last while I have, at least, if I didn't before), and I attend class regularly.

5) Goals

My three goals for the end of this semester are to start posting personal additions to my blog on a regular basis, to complete my Six Word Memoirs, and to make sure to complete and hand in future assignments on time. I will do this by taking time in the evening when I do schoolwork to look at what I need to do in this course.

Monday, 7 April 2014

Personal Addition - University

I've been thinking a lot over the past few days. For a long time, whenever I've been asked what I plan to do after high school, I've always been pretty vague. I say that I plan to be "something having to do with music or language". Those are the two things that have interested me for a long time. Since middle school I've been a bit of a (self-proclaimed) "band geek", and since last year now also a "choir nerd"; maybe I would become a professional musician, or a music teacher. For a few years I also tried to learn many languages. I succeeded in learning only one - Spanish - and ended up picking up bits and pieces of others (sometimes more, but generally, bits and pieces); still, maybe becoming a translator or linguist was an option.

After some thinking, I'm now considering going into music education after high school. I won't be attending University straight out of high school, so I'll audition to U of M or Brandon University on voice in a couple of years. I think/hope that this is right for me. It's very stressful to think that if it isn't, I'll have wasted so much of my and my parents money, and that I'll have to start over.

...Adulthood is scary.

Monday, 17 March 2014

Skype Reflection

(1) What topics did you present? How did you go about making in "stick" with your audience?

Our group presented a mini lesson on the basic forms of punctuation. It included periods, commas, exclamation point and question marks. To make the topic more interesting, we compared punctuation to traffic lights; red lights for periods, amber for commas, and green for exclamation points. We drew these on a piece of paper that we used during our lesson. We used potholes to represent question marks (the idea being that when you see a pothole, you wonder why it's there and drive around it). For this visual we drew a car on the road, driving around the pothole in the shape of a question mark.

(2) How do you feel your mini lesson went? Strengths? Weaknesses?

I thought it went well, generally. The pothole/question mark visual was especially well received, and those who spoke did a great job speaking in a way that engaged the kids. One weakness was that not all members of the group spoke during the presentation. Although they did do their part preparing for the lesson, it would have been interesting to see how it would have gone had everyone spoken aside from introducing themselves.

(3) What did you learn about the process of teaching and learning?

I think I was reminded that to teach kids well, it's very important to present the material in an interesting or unique way to make sure that they retain the information. Apart from that, I'm not sure I learned anything new about teaching; there wasn't really any feedback from the kids on how they enjoyed the lesson, or how much they understood. 

(4) What should we do next?

It might be a good idea, after we've correctly guessed their book title, to play a game with them that we create on Twitter.

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Reading Assignment - 15 Tweets

Better late than never! Here they are.

Tweets from @ma_maddy:

It's hard to believe Kira really said that. I've always known, I guess, but it hurts to hear it aloud... #frenemies

I don't what to feel about this plan of Kira's. It just seems so unlikely. I should probably be all for it; it could save my baby. #motherfail?

Tweets from @emeadowkira:

What does Marcus know? We're trying to save humanity. It's not impossible. I don't care if I made him angry #sorrynotsorry #oops

I'm on edge. One of us is a partial, but we have no idea who #frenemies

Scruffy just finished saving our lives, and Haru goes and kills him! Ridiculous #fail #sad

Manhattan looks like it was an amazing place. If only I could remember more from the old world #iwish

Weird seeing these animals here in the city. How could panthers and tigers have gotten into Manhattan in the first place? #whoah

Remember when I thought I could go to Skousen for help capturing a Partial? #tbt #lessonlearned #stupid

To see a partial in person - it's surreal. They don't look vicious #deceptivelooks

Can't believe we're going to take one of these home with us #neverletyourguarddown

Tweets from @philosophicalharu:

To be honest, even though I believe in this idea, I have no clue how this will work, either #oops #fingerscrossed

That'll teach me not to invite guys I hardly know on a mission this dangerous. Goodbye and good riddance! #sorrynotsorry #lessonlearned

Tweets from @marcus:

If this plan fails and she dies, I'll always feel responsible. #worried

Tweets from @sargeant_van_rijn (Jayden)

Haru really thought he was in charge, and then we find out he brought a traitor. #fail

I realize this is stupid, but what other chance does humanity have? #iwish we didn't have to do this in secret.

Saturday, 1 March 2014

Personal Addition - Say Something - Pentatonix

Music is a huge part of my life, so I thought today I'd post something I've been listening to recently. This is "Say Something", a very popular song at the moment - originally by Great Big World and Christina Aguilera, now covered by Pentatonix. Pentatonix is an a cappella group that won Season 3 of "The Sing-Off" and afterwards became very popular on Youtube. They're one of my favourite groups/artists. I thought the video was shot in a way that made it easy to focus on the music and their arrangement, which was very creative and different from the original track.

Reading to Kids
Today, our class had the opportunity to skype into Ms. Bettess' grade three class in Thompson, Manitoba, to read them "Mortimer" by Robert Munsch - a classic children's book. Reading to kids is a unique experience, because, especially when it's over Skype, and they know they're on camera, it makes them do a lot of things that generally only children do; they make silly, exaggerated faces, gestures and noises to react to the story. These are things that remind people why and how much they do or don't like children. It means if you already like kids, reading to them will usually be a great experience for you, and on the other hand, if you don't like kids, reading to them will remind you of every reason you don't like them.

Quick Write - Maximalism and Minimalism

I show him to the visitors, telling them he's a bit strange; he notices, and his legs, all resting silent on the ground, begin to prepare, and as they extend a deafening storm of sharp, piercing clicks and clacks starts and then ends every bit as quickly, beige and red-brown hairs scattering in every direction, and his hairy, but softly textured face curiously looks and sniffs about, his unseeing eyes unable to tell him what has changed in the room, until suddenly, the wet skin that forms the point on his narrow head meets the arm of one of my visitors.

When I showed my blind dog to my friends he got up and accidentally stamped one of their arms with his nose.

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Quick Write - Happy Pill
It might sound like a great idea to some - happiness is the most sought-after feeling in the world, so much so that many people do strange things - like starting to take deadly illegal drugs - in an attempt to replicate this feeling. But what if there really were a drug you could to take that created this feeling in you exactly? I don't know if I would approve of such a drug being legalized. One of the things that distinguishes humans from other animals is that we keep progressing and improving quality of life over time. Even in my (a teenager's) lifetime, things have changed dramatically. I feel like if a "happy pill" were legalized, people who take it would start to be satisfied with the way things are, not only in society as a whole, but also in their personal lives. People would stop trying to be better, and I think that's dangerous.

Quick Write - Which Door

Out of them all, I would probably choose the door to Hogwarts; in that I figure I'm fairly typical. Of any fantasy world whose story I've followed, I think the world in which Hogwarts exists is more alluring, mostly because I connect more to Harry (as well as his friends) than to the main characters of these other fantasy worlds - despite the fact that he is famous, he is sometimes mistreated by teachers and classmates. This is something I think most people relate to.

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Reading Survey
Besides books I read a lot of internet and newspaper articles, mostly about anything that piques my interest; that is, usually, music, language, and less often, current events and politics. These articles usually don’t require a significant time investment in order to learn a lot on the subject. They tend not to be lengthy but at the same time provide a lot of information. I also have a few foreign language readers at home. These are good for building vocabulary if I happen to be studying a language (though at the moment I’m not). I guess you could say that most of the time I read to learn, although I do read novels for pleasure once in a while, and it is often pleasurable for me when I read to learn.
When I read for pleasure, there isn’t any particular way that I use most often to choose the books I read. Sometimes I choose them because I’ve seen the shows or movies on which they’re based or that have come from them, and liked them. A time or two I’ve read a book based on a friend’s recommendation (The Fault in Our Stars). And, of course, at times I just pick something off the shelf in a store that seems interesting.
I don’t usually reread books. Once a few years ago I reread the Harry Potter series, but apart from that I’ve never reread a novel. It’s not necessarily that I don’t like to do it, only I would usually quickly lose interest in a book I’ve already read, unless I really loved it.
In general, I feel that reading can often be pleasurable, but a problem that comes up once in a while for me is that I start reading a novel, and soon after stop reading because in the beginning the “set-up” portion of the story is too long. It’s often hard for me to invest much time in a book if I’m not hooked right away.
My goal as a reader this semester is simply get into the habit of reading more, so that even after this course ends I’ll continue to read for pleasure often. I know that currently I definitely don’t read as many books as I should or would like to read.
In terms of technology, at home my family has many laptops, smartphones, iPod touches, and iPads, but most aren’t mine and those that are are outdated and would not be very useful in class. I don’t have a Kindle or Kobo. I have a Twitter feed, but I use it mostly to follow and retweet other people – I haven’t tweeted in about two months. I do have a blog as well, on Blogspot, where I’ve a written a few short stories and reposted music that I like. I haven’t posted there for at least more than a year. I’m open to learning to use many different social media platforms in creative writing.