Post – semester plan

Through this month of practicing different pieces of music and practice music to improve the speed of my fingers. I felt like I can feel a huge improvement not only on the song that I am being assessed on but also my typing speed as well. I practiced every day and out of the 20 mins of my normal practice I took out 10 mins to practice to various pieces of music each day. I started from mainly scales and the practice book music7, and as time passed I was able to do the simple scales very well, I added more of the AMIS practice music. I also added in the music piece to get the fingering down before speeding up. I practiced each scale increased the speed by placing a metronome next to me when practicing. I would play at a slow speed, and when I am able to play at that speed without playing anything wrong 5 times in a row I would change the speed and play it faster.  Slowly I was able to play the song faster and faster.

   Behind Closed Doors

In my family, life as a young child was timetabled, hectic from the moment I awoke to when I was asleep. It’s a whirlwind of memories but there are very few pertinent ones that relate to a significant lesson learned.  However, here are fewer memories that allow me to ponder as my ideas develop further with age. ‘Behind Closed Doors’ is an appropriate title for my essay and hopefully entices the reader to find out more.

Behind Closed Doors

You know the saying “Never judge a book by its cover”? Well, I had the fortunate opportunity to experience what the quote really meant at the early age of five…

The long-awaited day finally came. The parade of buses honking their horns signaled the arrival of summer break. At the age of five, attending summer classes or preparing for SAT tests didn’t exist in my mind.  ‘Summers’ back then, simply put, were like a never-ending road of pure delight. My parents were busy people, so we, my sister and I, were always sent to a summer camp or my Ayi’s hometown to play, but those are stories for another day.

As an overly optimistic child, I loved packing my own little suitcase. I felt just like a grown-up getting ready for a business trip. My special suitcase was bright neon pink and was heaped with overlapping Barbie stickers for decoration. Both Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty were my favorite princesses of all time. I would bring my box of candy, Barbie doll and my favorite green crocheted blanket. Preparing for a summer camp was always something I looked forward to.

In the summer of 2007, my mother had enrolled my sister and I at the “YuLong Summer Camp” a camp organized by an Orphanage Group, hoping to raise some money.  It was located on the north side of Beijing. Unbeknown to me, aside for paying for the camp, our mother had also given a substantial donation to the orphanage, which later on had a greater impact on my experience than I had envisaged. My mother later explained that there is such a thing as jealousy.

The camp was a two-hour drive from our house and we drove over many bumpy roads. My heartbeat was in sync with the hurdling over potholes and graveled roads as the city outline became dusty from a distance. After driving past hundreds of squares of patterned farms and numerous times of me asking “Are we there yet?” we finally arrived at the destination. The camp had a string of triangle colored flags with the letters W-E-L-C-O-M-E, reflecting brightly against the beaming morning sunlight. The administrators glided eagerly toward our car, extending warm handshakes to my parents.  One of them peered down upon me, and seemed to be smiling through grinded teeth, though her tone seemed friendly enough.  I beamed a huge grin and proudly showed her where my front tooth once belonged.

Curiously walking into my dorm, it smelled of Hualushui*. The room looked like a hotel, simple but clean, comprising of twin beds that were close to each other and were dressed in stark, crisp white sheets with matching pillowcases.

During the week we would commence morning exercises and then have breakfast, which was rather simple, including, an egg, a bun, and a bag of milk*. The first morning, one of the administrators, Li Lao Shi came over to our table.

Favoring me especially, Li Lao Shi asked, “How is the food? It must be plain for someone like you.”

“Ya-” I mouthed.

“No, No. We enjoy these foods very much!” My sister interrupted.

In the afternoon my newest best friend ‘Echo’ and I would chalk the pavement to play hopscotch and we imagined the willow trees were the perfect setting for our secret club. I even learned how to use the traditional wooden washboard, although back then, I still had to stand on one of those plastic stools to reach the sink. I learned how to fold blankets into perfect cubes, just like how they do it in those military movies.  However, as the cliché goes, ‘all good things must come to an end.’ I was under the impression that I was leaving because the plan would be to depart after just one week.

Much to my surprise, my Mom’s plans changed, and I had to stay for another week, while my sister had another summer camp to attend. Now that I was re-enrolled, my room arrangements had changed. I was now in a room with twenty people in bunk beds, and we shared a communal bathroom. I mean, I was perfectly fine with it, I was happy to be a part of a huge slumber party and meet even more friends.

The administrator of our dorm room was Li Lao Shi.  When she was leaning towards me, it dawned on me that her hair was so incredibly white, just like the walls in the room and I wondered what the color of her hair had been, though I tried not to stare. Li Lao Shi slept right next to my bunk bed, often peering at me through her thick black-rimmed glasses.

Finally, with Li Lao Shi’s undivided attention, I took out all of my cherished items and placed them one by one onto the bed. Holding up a Barbie doll, I would ask her, “Did you know that this is one of a kind? My mom brought it for me for my birthday!” Extending the Barbie Doll closer to her, I asked again, eager to spread my joy with her, “Oh, Oh! And did you know this doll has a special bottom on the back of its neck that makes it sing! Do you want to try?”

Li Lao Shi would respond, “No.” quite harshly.

I would continue showing her my other treasured collections of toys, candies and…, asking whether she wanted to try it or not, but her response was always a cold, “No” or “Oh”. Was I being impolite from the way I was talking to her?  Should I have called her Nin* instead of Ni*? Was I annoying her?

Her disgruntled mood was more notable when she began removing my breakfast tray each morning. I used my very best manners to ask for my food to be returned but she would just ignore me.  As the next day passed, my voice quieted, as I tried hard not to displease her as to amend for something I must have said or done the night before. Once she even barked, “Just because your mother gave extra money doesn’t entitle you to having so much food on your plate”. My immediate reaction was to search for my sister, but I was alone, isolated. Luckily, I had smuggled in my box of candy to my dorm and that became my sustenance for the morning.

On occasion, I noticed Li Lao Shi in the hallways, talking to the other administrators. Whispering with each other, looking at me as she pointed her finger toward me as if she was casting a spell. It would always make me uncomfortable.  With my heart racing that much faster, I kept my gaze low, bending my head and looking at the floor as I passed them.

At night, I reluctantly showered because the water temperature was so unbearably cold. Noticing this, she would accuse me of whining and would then shove me under the center of the shower.  I ground my teeth trying to tolerate the piercing cold. Even today, I still have knee problems from that incident. My pillow would be wet from my silent tears. I was consciously disguising my emotions, as I knew she would detest me more. I felt trapped within this confined space so close to her. This camp, once warm and welcoming now felt more like a heartless cold prison. This one-week was starting to feel like months.

I itched with great angst counting down those final two days, hours and minutes until our driver would arrive. Perched on the pavement with my neon pink suitcase, I waited and waited and waited for what seemed like an eternity. Suddenly, spotting the black jeep from afar, my heart raced with a huge sense of relief. I could breathe again! I ran up to my Mom, hugging her with all my might, not wanting to release her from my grip. I dared not look over my shoulder at that place ever again.

One might think that this horrible memory had left a ghastly stain on my childhood but it’s actually to the contrary. Always trying to see the glass half-full, I remind my five-year-old self, that actually, she was quite fortunate for this early lesson in life. This was one of those opportunities for growth. Behind the closed doors, not everything is exactly as it seems on the surface; however it is in these situations that the greatest learning takes place.

 

Rationale:

In my personal narrative, I portrayed myself as an innocent, spoiled little kid that a camp administrator disliked. The idiom used in the hook, and the foreshadowing in the rising action of the story, creates the dramatic question; “How will she learn the complex concept of ‘jealousy’?” This answer to this question is unraveled throughout the story. The setting change is in sync with the beginning of the conflict. For example, the change in dormitories highlights the change of circumstances. The setting change creates anticipation for the reader, thus moving the plot forward. Body language and external dialogue were used to illustrate my complex character, changing from once a talkative child into a more timid one. Internal dialogue was used to develop inner conflict between the appropriateness of my behavior. I used the literary techniques; alliteration, simile, metaphor, to exaggerate my emotions. For example, I used metaphor to describe the summer camp as a heartless cold prison, as it no longer prevailed as loving in my heart. I characterized my visual appearance, by using such phrases as; “I beamed a huge grin and proudly showed her where my front tooth once belonged,” to enhance my innocence. Additionally, the Barbie doll acted as a symbolic motif of my identity, as it symbolized wealth, and how the administrator disapproved of it. Furthermore, words such as “Hualushui” were used to amplify my identity, since it is a symbolization of the old Beijing. The variation in syntax length was used to contrast the levels of maturity. The longer sentences expressed my chattiness, and the short sentences expressed a stricter tone. The narrative is written in first person to invite the readers into my world. The resolution is written in third person to create distance, expressing change, and finally resolve the internal conflict.

 

 

Semester Plan

I chose to practice finger dexterity. From the previous piece we played arabesque, as well as songs we are playing today, such as minimalist dance, requires fast finger movement. I chose varies of materials such as pieces from a practice book and scales to improve this skill. From the materials I have chosen, it will help improve my finger dexterity for a wide range as well, for all kinds of octaves, which will help me with future piece.  I chose the music piece “野蜂飞舞”, a really famous song describing butteries fluttering around in the wild. I will incorporate all these pieces above into my daily practice routine. I believe that with these practices, I will be able to improve the stiffness of my finger when it comes to unfamiliar pieces, since my finger will be used to the fast movement and flow of notes.

New year new me?

For the first three weeks of school, I felt the songs we played to be a lot more relaxing and pretty easy to learn. I continued to bring my pencil case, music folder and of course my instrument. So when I practiced at home, I didn’t have to spend too much time on music we played in class, so I was able to put more attention to the dynamics, tone and sound quality of the song instead of the note and rhythm reading, as well as practicing more on my practicing book to improve my basic skills.  I goal for this year is to continue practicing every day and aim to improve my note reading, fingering, and rhythm this year. Furthermore, I am planning to challenge myself this year in band, by joining a performance a hospital performance a service class organized(my friend told me about it last year). This should improve my confidence as I have to play a solo.  Additionally, I will challenge myself this year by playing the first part instead of the second part in some pieces like last year. I was also hopping if we could play some anime themed song in band.

Castle of Bed Sheets and Land of Pillows

 

Light shined through the thinly spread out blanket, illuminating the castle within with green and white plaid designs. The blanket was the roof, the pillows were the walls and the little girl was the princess. Crawling into it, she was careful, she was slow, aware that a single mishap would cause the castle to come crumbling down. Once she got inside she would close the opening with another pillow, locking herself inside. The fortress was dark, for the only light sources came from the limited space between each pillow and the light that shined through the blanket. As she craws back and forth through the endless hall constructed by vibrantly colored pillows, her elbows glided through the bumpy patterned on them, feathers aroused from the wool carpet below her. It was like stepping on clouds, like marshmallows. It was soft, fluffy but most of all warm and cozy.

After a while, the enclosed atmosphere started to giving of the refreshing smell of chlorine. The spacing was limited but that did not stop the little girl from stuffing the fort with all of her most precious treasures. The little girl adored her castle, it was all to herself, neither of her parents or her sister could crawl in.  However, when night falls her fortress would be destroyed, each pillow returned to their original owner, and the little girl returned to her bed as well. She would wait until the day came again when she would rebuild her castle, one that would be even bigger even strong than ever before.

What clues are provided to highlight a character’s goal and/ or true motivation

Dear Mr. Schroeder and Mr. Stotsak,

In the book, The Red Necklace, by Sally Gardner, I have chosen two of the strongest quotes that give clues on the character’s characterization by their motive or goal. The first quote surrounds the main antagonist of the story, Count Kalliovski; “It didn’t take him long to discover that Kalliovski was a mere amateur, with no natural gift” (Gardner 309). Through this quote, the author was able to portray Yan finding out how much Kalliovski wanted to have the power to control the strings of light. Showing that his one and only motive for over 20 years has been to learn to use this power, and even resorting to killing human beings. Through all this commotion, it shows how strong jealousy affected him and possessed him to do such actions.

The second quote talks about the main protagonist, Yan, showing how persistent and brave he is; “Letters, Love letters written by Armand…” (Gardner 303). Through this quote, the author made the readers aware of how motivated Yan was to save Sido from her horrid state. Demonstrating how he never forgets his goal; not even when is he was in extreme pain after being shot in the shoulder.

In conclusion from these two quotes, the author executed the two character’s characterization quite well by showing their motives behind their dialogue and action.

Proud sailor of the Battleship Potemkin?

 

I cannot believe the officers. Selfish, utterly selfish. I used to be a proud sailor of the battleship Potemkin, but now I have lost my faith in the Tsar and our officers. Potemkin was famous among the battleships, it was known for its firepower, it was known for its power in people. Our ship was the pride and honor of the black sea fleet. Well, until we lose to Japan. Losing this battle was a complete disgrace, it was totally unexpected, uncalled for. We never thought we would ever lose. I mean Japan is less than a half our size. Nevertheless, this doesn’t mean we deserve to get treated like this.

 

Now it is the year 1905, we are in the Black Sea. The atmosphere on the ship was gloomy, we just experience the worst loss. Not only that but I just got word of the event Bloody Sunday. Everyone is against the workers I mean this whole thing was clearly the Tsar’s fault. I don’t understand why the Tsar did such a greediest act, I mean aren’t we all supposed to stick together? He killed up to 500 peaceful protesters, and all they were asking for was food. We were being treated just like these protesters. We sailors of the battleship Potemkin, work day and night, we clean, we risk our lives for our country and what do we get in return? We get rotten meat. With worms on it!

 

When we first saw the meat, we thought this must have been a mistake. Thinking back, I can’t believe how foolish I was to have believed in our officers. I thought they wouldn’t give us such revolting food, there must be some kind of misunderstanding. When we showed it to our officer, he said, with no hesitation, “It’s perfectly fine, they are only maggots. Wash them out and it will be fine, you guys shouldn’t be complaining.” Can you believe what he said? I mean the Russian soldiers captured by Japan probably had better food than us!

 

For the next few days we asked and asked for better food but they ignored us, all we could eat was bread and canned food. One of the officers even gave the order to shoot me and a few others for, not wanting to eat rotten meat. Can you believe this man?

 

I remember that day as if it was yesterday. At that moment, I came to an understanding, I knew now that the officers were treating us as pets. To them, we were just pets they needed to feed in order for us to obey them, to do what they wanted. This whole time, while we were suffering, they were probably having a feast. Just like how the Tsar is treating the workers.

 

Time froze and the officer shouted “fire!”, I closed my eyes, I thought I would have died for sure but nothing happened it was as if time froze. I heard people yelling “overboard”, heard people saying “no, stop! Do you have any idea what you are doing?” I opened my eye, it was a complete disaster there was no order at all. The sailors had refused the order and started an uprising. Using our advantage, in numbers, we pushed all the officers overboard. Now we are sailing towards the Tsar. We were ready for a battle we had, rifles, cannons and our desire for revenge all ready to fire at any given moment.

 

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Teen Gossip Magazine

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Ashely, one of the main protagonist, in the book We are all Made of Molecules by Susin Nielsen is the cover girl of this magazine. Ashely is a typical teenage girl, the age of rebellion and lots of screaming. 14 is the age where we turn from a child to a teenager, it is one of the most complicated moments of life. This is the age where we try to find the new us, were the most important thing to a typical girl is gossip, popularity, and fashion. This is why for a typical 14-year-old such as Ashely, I thought it would be perfect for me to create a fashion magazine called Teen Gossip Magazine.

I put the title “Boost your Confidence” because Ashely is not humble at all, she knows she is pretty and is not afraid to own it. Although most of the time she has too much self-confidence and is unable to find anything wrong with herself, I believe she would be the ideal person to teach and help boost girls reading this to find more confidence in themselves. For example, when her friend Claudia complimented her and said their other friend was Lauren is like the poor man’s version of her, saying how Lauren was not as pretty nor as popular. Ashely responded by saying “If I am being totally one hundred percent honest, I would have to say that Claudia hit the nail on the head” (Nielsen 37).

I put “How to get to the top” in this magazine as well because Ashely is beautiful and she knows it. Ashely would be the perfect person to interview and get tips or ideas for this title. Even from a small age of 12, Ashely was able to use this special power of hers, to climb to the top of the social ladder. She quickly learned that her beauty gave her power and used it to her advantage; “practically one hundred percent immediately, I was perched right on top of the ladder” (73). Another way she stays on the top of the Social Ladder is by surrounding herself with people worse than her, making her look better; “Being around her always makes me feel good about myself because I’m always just a little bit better than her” (37).

I thought the title “How to stay at the top of the Social Ladder” would be perfect to put in this magazine because Ashely’s social status is quite high and she was able to maintain her place for over one year. Even though Ashely is popular and is admired by many people she doesn’t trust anyone. Ashely knows that being on the top of the social ladder meant she couldn’t really trust anyone, she believed that everyone wanted to be at the top and throw her down. For example, when Lauren, her best friend, wanted to buy a skirt she told her it looked bad on her because she thought even though, “They looked good on her. Really good. But I had to remember the social ladder” (75). She even hid the fact that her father was gay only because she was afraid that other people in the school and her “friends” would use that as a reason to kick her out of the top.

I put the title “How to be more Selfless” because it wouldn’t hurt for Ashely to learn how to be more selfless because Ashely is extremely selfish and she doesn’t care much about other people’s feeling. For example, when she yelled and screamed at Stewart her new brother she stomped upstairs. All she thought about was “Now I could hardly go back down and watch America’s next top model, which is only my favorite show of the week” (27). Not even considering what Stewart might be feeling. Plus, the only reason Ashely didn’t start yelling at Stewart right when she saw him was because she didn’t want to lose her allowance of that week to buy a skirt she really wanted.

I wrote the title “How to deal with a Nerdy Brother” because Ashely thought that having a brother like Stewart who is unable to read social signs and is a complete nerd, would threaten her place at the top. Ashely was heartless and used Stewart to her advantage. She tried locking him out of the house, tried ignoring him and even threatened him to not tell anybody about their relationship, saying, “if you wreck it for me, I swear I’ll kill you” (130). Eventually, she learned how to use her brother to her advantage, using him as a messenger between her and Jared, and also asking Stewart to invite Jared over as a friend when her parents are home so she wouldn’t get in trouble.