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December 2019 – Kalen Lu

Winter Break

Yesterday was my last school day of the year, and our winter break has just started. School starts again in around two weeks, so I want to have as much fun as possible before our break ends. I’ll most likely be playing video games with friends, but I still have some work to do before we start school again.

For the past month or so I haven’t had much time to play a lot of video games, and since a few of my friends all got Rainbow Six Siege at the same time, we plan on playing together over the break. We have the right amount of people for all of us to play in a group together, so we’re all just waiting until we all have time to play. I also want to play some more Counter-Strike and osu! since I haven’t played either of them in a while.

Most of my courses this semester didn’t give much homework to do over the break, but my math class has an assignment for making notes for our exams that start a little bit after the break ends. I plan on working on it throughout the break, but it shouldn’t be too hard since I’ve kept all the course material in my math binder. I’ve been doing pretty well in the course so far though, and the teacher just wants to make sure that we’re reviewing all of our units before the exams.

If I feel like it, I might also try to play around more with writing for orchestra since my music teachers haven’t really assigned me with anything specific to do. The last time I tried writing for an orchestra turned out pretty badly so I’m trying to improve in that area. My school does an annual student composition showcase during springtime so I’ll see how well I can get with orchestral music by then.

Additionally, I haven’t really caught up with all of the currently airing anime shows this season because I’ve been focusing more on finishing schoolwork. Some shows have already finished airing for this season and the rest should end in the next few weeks. Before the next season starts, I want to finish the shows that I’ve already started especially since most of my friends are already caught up with them.

Overall, this winter break I’m going to try to have a lot of fun with my friends and catch up on some things I’ve missed during school. I hope I get to play a lot more games and talk with some friends. Some of us have already planned to meet up during the break as well.

School Music Concert

Earlier this week I participated in my school’s annual winter music concert. The music department of the school puts on a concert each year with all of the students participating. In the past, I’ve had the opportunity to watch their previous concerts, but since I now attend the school myself I had the opportunity to perform in it myself.

I would say that the preparation for the concert starts as soon as the school year starts because all of the new students in each of the music classes learn how to play their instruments first. The pieces that we performed at the concert were pieces that we learned within the first three months of us picking up our instruments for the first time. In my opinion, I don’t think it really makes sense for the beginner students to perform though. Most of us haven’t played our instruments before until the start of the school year, but the school still makes us perform in a group of just the beginners. For a concert that some people are paying to see I don’t think we had enough experience or practice to perform.

However, while our beginners’ performance wasn’t great, I wouldn’t say that it was terrible. I still wouldn’t have paid to listen to it though. Fortunately, the senior students were able to put on a better performance than we did. Additionally, we had students from another high school come in to perform a few pieces for our concert. You could tell that their students were much better than our music department when you listen to them play.

During the concert, I also had the chance to perform a solo guitar performance, but I wasn’t originally planning to until around two weeks prior. I didn’t end up practicing too much for it, so I made quite a lot of mistakes during the concert. Some people said I did pretty good, but I think it could’ve been much better.

In terms of the rehearsal that went into the concert, we only had one practice run-through of the whole show. It was quite unorganized and there were a lot of times when we didn’t know where to go between performances. I think it would’ve been better to hold at least one more run-through of the show like we did for the school’s musical, but I guess the teachers couldn’t figure out a schedule.

Overall, I would say the concert went alright, but there are a lot of things that can still be changed to improve it. A few last-minute changes were made, rehearsals weren’t organized, and the overall playing could’ve been better. I felt underprepared when we performed, but it could’ve been worse.

School Musical

For the past two weeks, I’ve been helping out at my school for the musical that they do each year. Every year at the high school the drama department comes up with a new story to perform for the community before the winter break. I was helping out with sound and lights for the show this year, so I got to see a lot of what goes on behind the production.

From what I could tell, the actual scriptwriting, dance choreography, and acting practice were done over the course of a few months before the actual rehearsals. Before our first rehearsal, we had to set up the stage and some stationary props. Since the acting was scripted for a stage that was larger than normal, we had to bring out some risers and wooden platforms to clamp and drill to the school’s original stage. We also brought in some rental equipment from the music store down the street because we needed a lot of microphones for the actors.

After setting up all of the equipment we had our first rehearsal over the weekend, and the main thing that we did was deciding who was going to be in charge of what during the show. We also discussed with the drama teacher about what kind of lighting and backdrops she wanted for each scene. I was eventually put in charge of changing the backdrops for each scene. The job itself isn’t too hard since all I do is press button to change a slide on the projector. However, I was told that is was important and I had to remember the cues to for when to switch the backdrop. New students like me weren’t put in charge of anything too difficult or important such as working the sound or light boards because that was left for the senior students.

The next few days were spent actually going through the entire show in order to make sure that everyone knew what was going to happen for the day of performances. This gave us time to make notes on our own individual scripts for whatever we needed to do at specific times. Additionally, we were informed that we needed to make the show shorter for the elementary schools that would be coming in to watch during school hours. This caused a bit of trouble because we had to make sure we knew which part of the script to change to in order to cut certain parts out.

Fortunately, we didn’t have too many problems during our actual performances except for a few things that went wrong such as microphone feedback, actors missing them cues, and curtains not closing on time. I’d say the worst part about being part of the tech crew was that we had to come in pretty early in order to set everything up and we also had to sit through the show over five times. Apparently, it’s been a running joke that the tech crew memorizes some of the lines and choreography by the end of all the shows. You also end up getting all the musical numbers stuck in your head for a while.

In terms of the actual show’s quality, I’d say it was alright, but it definitely could’ve been better. I personally think that the show was a bit too long, and we should’ve had more time to work with the drama department before the actual showings. Additionally, the drama teacher wanted to make a speech at the end of the last show which she didn’t mention anything about until 15 minutes before the end. It ended up with a lot of microphone feedback and she ended up using one the actor’s microphones, so it could’ve been avoided in the first place anyways.

Overall, working on the show was pretty fun since I got to learn a bunch of new things and talk to some new people. The show was actually a slightly altered version of The Greatest Showman, but what I found interesting was that the actors in the drama department were singing the songs differently from the originals. In the end, it turned out okay and the school definitely put in a lot of time, effort, and expensive equipment for the show’s production.