TSO Rehearsal Field Trip

Yesterday, my school’s music department took a field trip to downtown Toronto’s Roy Thompson Hall in order to listen to the Toronto Symphony Orchestra rehearse for one of their upcoming shows later in the evening. We also got a chance to ask a few questions for their bass clarinet specialist Miles Jaques and walk around downtown on our own for about an hour or so.

In order to make it on time for the rehearsal, we had to get to school early in order for the bus to get us there on time. The bus ride was around an hour-long, and I think being on a bus with the music department kids is different from other bus rides I’ve been on. Specifically, the band kids because on the way to and back from downtown all you could hear throughout the ride was them singing from the back.

Once we made it to the Roy Thompson Hall we took a group picture and then immediately went inside to get a rundown on the rehearsal schedule and what we’d be listening to. I didn’t get a look at the actual physical program for that night’s show, but all the four pieces they performed were composed within the 20th to 21st century if I remember correctly.

When listening to the rehearse we got the chance to see how the conductor gives notes to certain sections and how the whole orchestra works. Additionally, we moved around the auditorium between pieces in order to get a better look at the different sections of the orchestra. In terms of their playing, you can definitely that they are all professional musicians that have been playing for a long time.

Between the second and third performances was when we got a chance to ask questions for Miles Jaques. He has been playing for the TSO for around two years and has been playing the clarinet since he was twelve years old. We learned a bit about his background, how he got into professional music, what he does in his spare time, and what type of music he listens to outside of classical music.

After all the performances were finished we had a little over an hour to go wherever we wanted around downtown in order to eat lunch, so my friend and I went on Yelp to find places nearby to eat. We found a ramen place called Hakata Ikkousha Ramen which was pretty close by so we went there to eat. I think that compared to the ramen places in Richmond Hill it was a lot better. Once we finished, we had some extra time so we walked around the Metro Centre area before going back to our meeting place.

Overall, I had a lot of fun yesterday especially since I didn’t even have to do any work once I got back to my last period class because we were pretty much at the end of our unit. The rehearsal, question and answer session, and food was a fun way for me to end my week.

Nature Music Update

It’s been a while since I’ve started working on the music for some nature videos that I wrote about a few weeks ago. Last time was when it was about halfway done, but now it’s almost finished and there’s a few more things that I added.

Since the main ideas for the first two sections which are the fall leaves and raindrops are done, I had to figure out what I wanted to do for the last two sections which are a short timelapse of a town in winter and another timelapse of a flower blooming. Our entire project is only around a minute long so each section is around 15 seconds long which means I didn’t really have too much time to work with.

For the town timelapse I ended up writing out a mellow strings section for double bass, cello, and viola since that’s what I was kind of feeling at the moment. It went pretty well, but there were a few harmonies that my teacher pointed out that I fixed later. I also carried over the arpeggiated piano from the previous raindrops section and I think it went well with changing the texture between sections. Right now the section is pretty much considered finished, but I’m thinking about adding a high melody part later if it fits in.

After working on the town timelapse, we realized that our video for the blooming flower was actually really short. Since we liked the strings section from earlier, we decided to carry it over instead of writing something completely new. I think this was a good choice because it wouldn’t really make sense to add an entirely new element in the last 5-10 seconds of the project. We still haven’t really finished it though because although we’re using the same instruments, we felt like the feeling of the music had to change. The idea was decided just yesterday so I’m still trying to figure that part out within the following week.

Overall the project is almost done, but I’m still thinking of adding a few more layers in certain areas. I think that most of the sections sound pretty good individually. I’m mostly worried about how the transitions seem to flow since a lot of the transitions I’ve had in the past have been pretty bad. Other than that, I think the project has been going really smoothly.

Bring Your Kids To Work Day

Last Wednesday was Bring Your Kids to Work Day in Ontario and I got to visit one of my Uncle’s workplaces for a tour. The main point of BYKW day was so that grade 9 students would be able to experience working. It also allows high schools to have the opportunity to open up the grade 9 classes for tours for elementary schools.

Since my dad started working from home, I ended up going to one of my uncle’s workplace. He works at one of Mondelez’s Cadbury plants where they mainly produce chocolate. The people at Mondelez managed to set up a kind of schedule so that the whole day would be organized for us. I actually ended up arriving there early so I spent around an hour going around with my uncle until the other kids arrived.

There ended up only being around a dozen kids altogether and so we all watched the same safety instruction video that showed us all the rules and instructions to follow within the facility. After the video, we did an activity where we had to find some defects with certain candies, and then they explained to us why it’s important that all of their products have to follow certain guidelines. We spent a lot of time in a conference room where different departments of the plant came in to explain what they do and how they got to their current position. There was also a university student doing a coop program that told us a bit about coop programs in general and how beneficial they can be.

After a few presentations from different departments, we got to eat lunch which was some pizza, and then once we finished, they took us down to take a look at the machines that actually make the chocolate. It was pretty loud inside, but I was surprised that you can’t really hear much of it from the office floors. The amount of money that Mondelez invests in their plants was also quite interesting because it seems like they are trying to have a lot of up to date equipment even if it costs a lot to install.

We also took a visit to the president’s office where the original plant president used to work, and we also learned about the history of the plant facility itself. Additionally, they taught us how their marketing strategies have changed in the past and which ones worked and which ones didn’t. The last part of the day was a few more presentations from some other departments and then we were finished.

Once we left Mondelez gave us a lot of their different products from different brands that they own like Oreos, Chips Ahoy, Triscuits, and Cadbury Dairy Milk chocolate. There were all kinds of different flavours of cookies and chocolates. What surprised me was that a lot of gum was included which I didn’t know they produced.

Overall, I think that the Mondelez plant tour was quite interesting. It was fun to see all of their machines and the history, but the presentations were kind of boring. Some of the presenters didn’t know how to use the programs they were presenting on which was kind of funny since I think most of the kids including myself knew what they were doing wrong, but nobody really said anything. I ended up leaving with a bunch of snacks though so it was like trick or treating for me without actually having to go trick or treating.

CS:GO Restriction On Keys

A few days ago Valve announced on the Counter-Strike: Global Offensive blog that any new keys bought after this recent update will no longer have the ability to be traded or sold. This new change has sparked a lot of controversy about the game and its future.

The keys that Valve talks about, are apart of the game’s weapon skin system. In CS:GO there are cosmetic skins that you can get when they randomly drop throughout games, or you can buy a key for around two to three dollars and open a case that will give you a random skin. These skins are then tradable or sellable for different things depending on their value. Keys were one of the few items that had a relatively stable price between players, so oftentimes, when trades were made, keys were used to measure an item’s value.

However, a few weeks ago there was a crash in the value of the Argentina peso and people were able to buy keys for a much lower price than usual. A majority of people think that this is the reason why the change was made because Valve lost a lot of money during the time of the crash.

Fortunately, any keys that people have that were before the update will still be able to be traded and sold. However, this also means that tradable and sellable keys have risen in value and are now limited. Some people have been talking about how the game’s popularity will die out since skin trading has been such a large part of the game, and keys were an important asset to the trading community.

After a few days, some alternatives that have come up are using other items that are tradable through Steam. However, I don’t think trading will be the same, and with rumors of Riot Game releasing their new game Project A; it might be possible that CS:GO will lose a portion of its player base.

Overall, I myself am not really affected by this new update since I’ve never really been too involved with trading, but a lot of other people have been. Even if CS:GO loses some of its player base, the skill group I’m in has the majority of players in it, so I don’t think new queue times will be an issue.