The first few weeks of my second year of in-depth have been going pretty well. I know I said in my last blog post that I found a mentor named Tian; unfortunately, she requested quite a large amount of money per hour and so I went looking for another mentor. Luckily, I managed to find another harmony teacher in the area named Jacky Mak, who was willing to help free of charge (yay!). Although he’s really busy and might not be able to meet with me as often as I’d like, he’s definitely qualified enough to help me out. 

Drawing of Jazz musicians taken from Google Images

During his time at Brandon University, Jacky got a Bachelor of Music from majoring in piano performance. This is great for me, because I also love playing the piano and so we already share a hobby. In university, he mostly studied classical music, but he also learned about jazz piano. This is even better, because I usually play classical or modern music on my piano, so learning how to not only play but also compose jazz would be a really cool new thing to try out. Something that I find unique about Jacky is that he tries his best to incorporate technology into his lessons on harmony. For example, he might use a drum machine or something else to train his students; this is something my harmony teacher never really did. 

He’s also a director at JW’s Music Studio, which presents a lot of classes that are meant to be flexible and fit a student’s needs in music, as well as their interests. On top of this, he’s also a music director at the “Do What U Luv” Foundation, which presents classes on all sorts of things from music, fitness and dance. These might be good programs for me to get involved with, especially if I want more time with Jacky (his LinkedIn Page can be found here). 

Jacky gained his expertise from meticulously learning and performing piano pieces, as well as first getting a bit of experience as a music director before making it his full time job. Although I’m sure it was exhausting to invest so much time into one field, since he’s so passionate about music and the piano, he must have really enjoyed some of the experiences he’s had learning in the past. I’m planning to ask him about some of these experiences, and maybe even them blog about them if he permits them. 

I haven’t met with my mentor in person as of yet (although I’m planning to very soon), but we’ve been talking over e-mail the past few days. We’ve discussed goals for the project, as well as what the final product is going to look like. Additionally, Jacky specializes in harmony, and so he wasn’t able to recommend me a free, easy-to-use software that could help me make my music. However, I have gained some wisdom from my mentor so far nonetheless. One piece of advice that he shared with me was to try my best and experiment with different genres of music (such as both classical and jazz, instead of only doing classical). Although it’s good to have one genre of music for one piece, learning about different types of music will give somebody way more knowledge about music composition as a whole. 

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This is a really quick Noteflight arrangement of a song that I really like. I only made this just to get used to how Noteflight works; it’s not actually my own piece.

Fortunately, I was able to find my own program to use. It’s called ‘Noteflight’, and it’s free to use on the internet. Although it’s not the greatest music composition software, I listened to some of the most favorited pieces on the website, and they’re actually really nice. I’ll be really happy if I’ll be able to compose pieces like this on a free software. Feel free to check them here. (I think you might have to make an account first, though.)

Using an online program is exponentially better than writing the piece out by hand. I can erase wrong notes in an instance, and copy and paste measures with no problem. The coolest part is that I can even compose in different instruments, like electric bass and trombone. With these tools in my hands, I think I’ll be able to create some pretty nice pieces. As of my progress so far, I’ve started my piece, but it’s a little bit too early in the development process to share at this point. In the meantime, I’ll be thinking of catchy melodies and interesting chord progressions to make it sound better.

As for me becoming a mentor myself, one thing that I think is important is to make sure the person you’re mentoring has a passion for the subject. If not, your relationship is going to be really unhealthy and it’ll be unpleasant for both sides. Another thing is to establish a clear goal early in the project, so both of you can work towards the goal even if there isn’t time to learn additional things. 

Anyways, that’s it from me. Until next time!