Concert Field Trip

A couple of days ago my school’s music department made a field trip to go watch a free concert performance at the Four Seasons Centre. We went to listen to a Debussy sonata for flute, harp, and viola, and we also got to hang around downtown for a little while before the show started.

When we made it into downtown we had around 45 minutes to go wherever we wanted downtown as long as we made it back in time for the show. My friends and I went to the Tim Hortons Innovation CafĂ© which was around a five-minute walk away. I think it was just a tiny bit bigger than a regular Tim Hortons, but the atmosphere felt a lot different. We ate some breakfast food there and got some of the special Dream Donuts and Timbits that were around twice the price of regular donuts. To me, it feels kind of out of place being in downtown with lots of noise with lots of people coming in and out. I would’ve preferred if there were fewer people there since there was a pretty big line, and I feel like it kind of ruined the calm interior.

For the actual performance the instruments there was a flutist, harpist, and violist. I think it was an interesting collection of instruments but I still think they sounded pretty good together. Out of all the pieces in the program, I couldn’t recognize a single one of them. After the performance, you could take pictures with the performers and chat since it wasn’t really a big concert. The day after, one of my classmates said he thought the flutist was “too windy”, and I kind of understood what he meant because even though there weren’t any microphones and we were sitting at the very top row we could still hear her breath in very loudly a lot of the time.

We got back to the school with a few minutes left in our second last period, so I went back to my math class that was taking a test that I would take the next day. It sounded like it was a really hard test, but when I took the test I didn’t really find it all that difficult although I still can’t say since I haven’t gotten it graded yet. The rest of the day proceeded as normal although we only had to attend our last class.

Overall, I think it was nice to get out of school and hang out downtown with some friends. The performance was also nice for being entirely free. We only paid for bus transportation to get downtown, so getting to watch professional musicians for free was really cool.

Kurtzpel

A few weeks ago I started playing a new game called Kurtzpel. The game had been out for quite a while already, and some of my friends had already played it before. I didn’t really feel like playing it before but wanted to try playing a new game. Since it was free, I downloaded the game and started playing.

Kurtzpel is an MMORPG and a mix of PvE and PvP. There is a storyline to the game, but I don’t really think it’s too interesting. You start out by watching a cutscene that talks about the main story and then you go into creating your character. The game doesn’t really make the character creation system very clear because you have to choose a “personality” and the personality you choose affects the way your character idles and talks. I didn’t know this at first, and now my character doesn’t really look the way I want them to. Additionally, you don’t get access to certain facial features unless you use a rebirth ticket to recreate your character.

After character creation, you go on a short tutorial that teaches you how attacking works and a few skills that you can use for two of the “karmas”. The game has a few different karmas, but karmas are pretty much just different types of weapons. Each weapon has different skills and combos that you can use. Your character can have two different karmas equipped at once, and they’ll be able to switch between them mid-game. For now, I’ve just been playing with the sword and bow karmas since I haven’t really tried using the other ones yet.

The PvE system seems pretty repetitive from what I’ve seen in the game so far. Since I’ve started there are the same enemies for each area of the map. Each time you defeat them you can move onto a harder difficulty of that enemy. After defeating an enemy there’s a chance for an NPC to appear after your battle. You have a few conversation options, you click a few of them, and then they disappear and you go back to the main world. Depending on how your conversation went with the NPC you’ll gain a certain amount of progression points for that specific NPC. Different NPCs have different skills for karmas that you can unlock at certain stages of your point progression.

PvP is a 2v2 co-op system where you are queued with another person and fight against two other people. The strategies and skills you use in PvP are much different than in PvE since their attack sets and movement are a lot different. I think that PvP is a lot more interesting than the PvE because there are a lot more different things that can happen there.

Usually, you want to have unlocked a few skills before you play PvP, but you can also upgrade your armor and karmas. Compared to other games where you can buy or find better weapons and armor, every piece of weaponry and armor in the game is the same. The only difference is the level, and certain pieces of armor can give small boosts in certain areas such as movement speed, but those boosts can also be changed depending on the player’s choice. Essentially, it doesn’t really matter what type of gear you have unless you want your character to look cooler.

Overall, I’ve had a bit of fun playing the game, but I feel like the PvE side is lacking a bit. It feels quite repetitive, and I think that if they added more interesting dungeons where the further you go the harder the enemies become until you reach the final boss would make the game a lot cooler. I like the idea of having all of the equipment the same because in other games you can just pay a load of money to get really overpowered items and there’d be no point in spending time to improve your gear though. However, for a free to play game I think it has a lot of great content to be explored.

New Nature Music Project

The last music project I was working on with my music teacher was the song that we started working on a while ago. Around a couple of weeks ago, we pretty much finished the whole song and I just need to fix a few minor things, but now my music teacher suggested starting something new.

After the song was finished, my music teacher mentioned how much time it took for us to finish it and said that he wanted to try making something a little bit faster. The new project is taking around a minute or so of nature B roll footage and writing music to fit the different settings’ themes.

To start, we took a few free stock videos from YouTube, and he showed me how we can upload videos into Logic Pro and work with it alongside the music. The next thing we did was work on what kind of feeling we wanted for the first setting. Our first setting is a tree in autumn with the leaves falling. We went with an open tuning for this project since it gives the chords a larger feeling that standard. The first week was just making a simple melody and layering the chords we chose. We had a set of main acoustic chords and also a set of high chords that we each record twice in order to be able to pan them from one ear to the other.

Next, we started thinking about our following setting which is a closeup angle of raindrops falling on the ground. I thought that this would be a good opportunity to use the harmonics of the open tuning so we went with those. After coming up with a repeatable section, we started thinking of ideas to fill other areas of the frequency spectrum since harmonics are quite high. In the end, we decided a palm-muted sort of baseline would fit well by contrasting the harmonics.

We’ve actually left around a bar or so of space in between the two settings that we haven’t written yet since we want to get down the main ideas of each individual setting first. Eventually, the plan is to go back and write some transitions since the feel of each setting is pretty different.

Overall we’re still working on the rain setting so far and still have two other sections to go, but it shouldn’t take as long as the other song did. I think that working with the video helps with coming up with some more original ideas that all fit into a certain theme.

Learning More On The Violin

After around two weeks of practicing the violin for school, I think that I’ve learned a few more things that have contributed to my progress in playing. This week I’ll write about some of the things I’ve learned in the past week.

One of the first things that I learned was that I’ve been tightening my bow a bit too tight when I played. A senior student in my class mentioned it to me while I was playing in class. The way you’re supposed to tighten the bow is so that you can fit a pinky in between the bow hairs and the stick. I thought that it meant that you could fit your pinky in between without moving the hairs. But apparently, the hairs should move a bit as you put your pinky in giving it more slack. It’s made the bow less bouncy when I play making my tone sound less scratchy.

I also learned how to play two octaves of the G Major scale from the open G string up to the first G on the E string. The teacher went over the fingerings for the notes in the scale. This makes it so that I have a better understanding of where each note is on the fingerboard so that I don’t have to rely on fingerings to play songs.

The last thing that I’ve been learning is slurring between notes. Right now in the practice book the songs are starting to use slurs, so I had to learn how to do them at least between two notes. Slurs are when you play more than one note in one bow stroke. For me, the hard part isn’t the left hand since it is pretty much just hammer-ons and pull-offs in guitar. However, coordinating the bowing hand so that I bow far enough to hear the second note is still kind of difficult.

Overall, those were the main things I’ve learned/been practicing. I’ve tried to do some vibrato, but it’s still pretty hard for me to implement it into actual playing. However, I think I’m still making some good progress in my playing, and learning the violin hasn’t actually been too hard so far.

Learning How To Play The Violin

My first period of the day this semester in highschool is music, so for the past week, I’ve been learning how to play the violin in class. I’ve never played an orchestral string instrument before, so here’s what my experience has been like with the violin so far.

When we first got a chance to play around with our instruments I kind of knew how the instrument worked, but I didn’t know any of the proper techniques or how to hold the instrument. The senior students and the teacher helped me with the proper way to hold the violin and bow, and I feel like I didn’t have too much trouble pressing notes down on the fingerboard though. Even after a few days I still have a bit of trouble keeping the bow straight in between the bridge and the fingerboard though.

Once all the new students had gotten a chance to get to know the proper way to play, we separated between the more experienced students and got to practice in a different room. Most of the pieces at the beginning of the practice book the teacher gave us were pizzicato pieces where you don’t use the bow, but you pluck the strings instead. For me, most of them weren’t too difficult since for fingerstyle guitar you’re already plucking with your fingers anyways. However, once we moved on to bowing notes I found it difficult to not only keep the bow straight but also only playing one string at a time. A lot of the times I end up unintentionally bowing the strings around the one I actually want to play on.

After a few more days we ended up attempting to play an easy piece along with the rest of the class, but the piece had a few notes that I didn’t exactly know how to play. Later I got one of the senior students to show me. The day after that we tried again with an even easier piece, but the teacher wrote out the notes in a different way from standard notation so I kind of got confused at certain spots.

For now, my other friends in the class and I have taken the practice books home to try and work on our basic skills. There are still a lot of techniques that we don’t know, but learning the fundamentals comes first. Overall, it’s been pretty fun playing and practicing. I’d say it’s a lot harder than guitar though since there aren’t any frets and bowing is a lot more difficult than plucking in my opinion.

First Week Of High School

This week was the first week of my first semester in high school, and I found it quite a bit different from elementary school. Last week I wrote about what I thought of my courses, but here’s what it was actually like.

On the first day of school, it was just the new grade 9 students. The schedule was kind of all over the place, so we started with an introductory assembly in the cafeteria where the principle and other staff told us all of the rules and things like that. After the assembly, most of the classes were just going over the course outline and getting forms that needed to be signed. When everyone finished visiting each of their classes we all did a scavenger hunt to get to know the school building better, and we also set up all our school accounts on the different websites teachers use.

The second day was when all the other students had their first day, so there was still not much work. Since my first-period music is mixed with other grades, it was still more forms going around. My second-period teacher for geography just put on a few videos for us to watch. At lunch, I got to see my brother’s friends which I mostly talked to online, so it was nice to see them again for a little bit. Third-period math was when we actually did some stuff. We took a diagnostic test on integers and fractions which we all learned about last year. When I got home I hade to brush up on how to divide fractions, but other than that I remembered everything else. My last period was gym but it was still mostly giving out forms and uniforms.

After the first two days, most of my classes started doing some more work. In music, we started trying out some of the instruments. For geography, we started with a little assignment regarding the videos we watched before. Math has mostly been problem-solving random puzzles, but starting Monday we’ll be reviewing more of grade 8 math. In gym, we did a few physical fitness tests and played a game of dodgeball, but that’s about it.

For the past few days I’ve mostly been catching up with my brother’s friends, but on Monday I plan on going back to having lunch with my other friends. After the first day of school, I haven’t had any problems finding my classes which I know some people had trouble with. Most of my teachers are alright, so I haven’t really had any problems yet. There still hasn’t been much talk about clubs besides a few sports team’s announcements, so there’s still that.

Overall, high school has been alright so far. I’m not struggling too much, but we still haven’t really started any work yet. I’ll probably update on the high school life once winter break starts, but for now, it hasn’t been anything special to me at least.

Going Into Highschool

Next Tuesday I’ll start going to high school since last school year was my last year of elementary school. I’ve already received my courses for the first semester and have also already been inside the school, so I’ll be writing about how I feel about what school will be like.

First period is orchestral strings which I’m pretty happy with since I already have some music experience, but I want to learn how to play an actual orchestral string instrument. I think that being able to play an actual stringed instrument would help when I write for strings, and especially how I write out articulation.

My next period is geography, which is also the class that has the most people that I know from my previous school in it. In elementary school our geography teacher didn’t really do the best job of teaching us, but from what my brother’s friends tell me; what you learned in elementary school shouldn’t really matter.

Third period math is probably the one I’m the most worried about for my first semester because from what my brother’s friends say; depending on the teacher you get you might get a lot of homework. They also say that math gets a lot more difficult, and papers take up a lot of space in your bag. Additionally, I’m pretty sure that there’s nobody from my old school that’s also in my class.

Last period is Healthy Active Living Education which is pretty much gym period. I’m really glad that I have this as my last period because I know some of my friends got it as their first period. Since I have it at the end of the day, as soon as class ends I can go home and take a shower or whatever.

Generally, I’m not too worried about making new friends since almost all my friends are going to the same school, and I also am friends with most of my brother’s friends. However, in classes or clubs that I don’t know anybody in, I’ll still try to talk to some new people.

Overall, I’m not too worried about high school and the courses I have for my first semester aren’t too bad. I think the hardest part will be getting good grades and having an efficient way to do work and get around the school.

Minecraft Survival

For the past couple of days, I’ve been playing Minecraft on a survival server one of my friends started. Minecraft is a game I’ve had for almost six years, but it’s still fun to play. I’ll be writing about what I’ve done on the new server and why I still think Minecraft is fun.

So the server that I’m playing on is completely survival with no plug-ins. I started on the server a bit earlier than the rest of my friends, but I wasn’t the first. For the first day, I just went mining to gather resources and set up a few chests and furnaces to put all my stuff. Once almost everyone got on the server we had around seven of us just talking and doing random things like farming and going to the Nether.

Since I was one of the first people on that actually gathered resources, most of us gathered and built around the first chests I made from the first day. The day after I decided to build a few projects, so I took some resources from the chests. I moved a little further away and built a house first so I had somewhere to safely stand AFK (Away From Keyboard) and put my items. The next thing I worked on was making a cow farm since I wanted to be able to get leather for books to enchant. It was a simple fenced-in area just so I could keep them all in the same spot. Next to it, I also made a small wheat farm so I could breed the cows.

The first big project I made was an automatic experience farm, so I could easily get levels. I didn’t want to make a mob farm, and I’d seen some videos of experience farms that used cactus and bamboo. I used EagleEye621’s farm design and it took a while for me to get it working, but it works pretty well for not having to do anything after building it. After obtaining a way to efficiently get levels I wanted to make bookshelves for my enchantment table to get better tools and armor. For me, this has always been one of the most difficult stages in Minecraft survival because you need a lot of leather to make the books for the bookshelves. In order to get level 30 enchantments, you need to have at least 15 bookshelves which are 45 books, and after that, I needed more books to actually enchant.

I divide Minecraft survival into separate sections; mining, building a base, enchanting gear, defeat the Ender Dragon, and then doing whatever you want. For some reason whenever I play on a new survival world, defeating the Ender Dragon is one of the things I want to do. You don’t have to but I prefer spending a lot of time enchanting my gear. Not only to become really strong, but also to show off to the other people on the server. Currently, I’m still enchanting most of my gear, but I also built an AFK fishing farm to see if I can catch some good enchanted books. It takes a lot of time, but each time I finally finish a piece of gear I feel accomplished.

In my opinion, Minecraft survival can be fun in many different ways. Because even though there are some things you do the same every time, you can also do things a new way. For example, playing with or without plug-ins or making different types of farms. Especially after you have all the resources and gear you want; you can just have fun building things with your friends or testing new things out. Each time you create play on a new world you make a new base, with different things in it, and with different goals in mind.

Overall, even if Minecraft is an old game if you’re feeling bored, you can always make a new world and try something new. I think that in a sandbox type game like Minecraft you can always have some sort of fun even if you’ve been playing for a long time.

More Logic Pro Features

The song that my music teacher and I have been working on for a while is almost completed, and last Wednesday he taught me few more features in Logic Pro X that I didn’t know about before.

One of the first things he showed me wasn’t really a Logic Pro exclusive feature, but more of song creation in general. It was the way you panned your different instruments. Panning is determining how far to the left or right you hear a certain instrument from. While you want to keep certain things like the main melody and drums in the middle, you should balance your other instruments by frequency. We panned our string quartet so that the cello and first violin are on one side and the second violin and viola are on the other.

Another technique he showed me was reversing the audio of an acoustic piano to make it sound more synthetic. We’re using it the help with the transitions of certain sections, and it sounds pretty good. Supposedly, it works in quite a few different scenarios, and it’s a good thing to know.

The last thing he showed me on Wednesday was making a processing track. By sending all of our instruments to the processing track, we can add certain effects all at once from the processing track. It also makes it a lot easier to change the volume of the song itself.

Again, I learned a few more tips and techniques to help me in music production, and next time he’s supposed to teach me about using a compressor which is pretty complicated. However, our song should still be completed fairly soon.

Learning To Play Counter Strike: GO

Over the summer I have been playing a lot of video games, and one of the games I’ve played the most is CS: GO. Lately one of my friends wanted to get more into the game, and since I’m the only person that’s half-decent at the game that he knows, he asked me to help him get better.

I’ve had the CS:GO for a little over four years now and next year in April I will be rewarded with a 5-year Veteran Coin in-game. Even with over 1,400 hours on the game, I still wouldn’t consider myself a “good player”. The average matchmaking rank for most people is Gold Nova 3 which is the 9th rank out of the 18 ranks that exist in matchmaking. I currently sit one rank above that, at Gold Nova Master which is the 10th rank; just barely above average. For reference, my friend has gone all the way up and down the Silver ranks which are the bottom six ranks.

My friend isn’t a complete beginner to the game. He’s had the game for a little bit over two years and has around 600 hours in the game. I’m quite positive that he knows the basic understandings of the game and how it works. From what he’s told me, is that in the lower ranks (Silver) the teammates you get are almost always really bad or throwing (trying to lose on purpose). I can vouch for the fact that players in the lower ranks are typically not the best since I was there too, but I never remembered so many people throwing as my friend describes. However, if this really is the case, and you’re a low ranking player trying to climb the rank ladder, I’d suggest finding someone that is also of your skill level that also wants to improve. Playing with that one, or even more, people that you can get along with will make your matchmaking experience much better since it eliminates one random factor that could make your game less enjoyable. This is what I did ever since grade 5 when I started playing with a few of my brother’s friends that also played. We all started off in Silver a few years ago, and now we’re all around the Nova skill group now. Forming good teamwork, communication, and relationships in general with longlasting teammates isn’t something that can be done with random players you find in low ranks.

Besides teammates, I think game sense (your understanding of the game and the way it works) has a big impact on the way you play. While playing more games will improve your game sense in one way or another, I think that a good way to improve your game sense is to watch other people play (preferably professional/high ranking players). Don’t just watch them, but try to understand what they’re doing and why. After that, you can go back and watch replays of your own games and try to figure out what you did wrong in certain scenarios and what you did right. When you watch, don’t worry about your aim because that’s a completely different factor than your positioning and use of utility.

The last few things I told my friend to try and do are to practice his aim and memorize the maps. At the end of the day, CS: GO is still a shooting game, so if you don’t hit your shots, you’re chances of winning drop significantly. However, if you improve your knowledge of the maps you play on, and common spots people play from; you’ll also have another step up on other players.

Overall, if you want to improve, you should practice with teammates you know, as well as your aim, utility usage, and watch other people that are better than you play. Even if you lose games or get bad teammates, as long as you see yourself as an individual player improve at what you’re doing, you should keep playing and eventually rank up.