5/8/19 -

Unfortunately, my main aspect of creativity can no longer be chess. Whilst the time spent at the lunchtime chess clubs was fun, the Friday afternoon commitment means I am no longer able to do it. This is because, as a member of the national fencing team I must attend numerous weekly training sessions. One of these sessions is on Friday. While I was aware of this originally, I thought I had arranged my schedule in such a way that would allow me to do both. Originally, chess on a Friday ran from 3:30 pm to 4:45 pm, and as training began at 5:30 pm I believed I had allocated myself sufficient time, as the training venue is only half an hour from school, to arrive on time. However, recently my coach has changed the start time to 4:50 pm. As such, participating in both chess and fencing became impossible. 


I was aware there were strategies I could employ to mediate the situation so that I could satisfy the demands of my competing interests. The first of these was to leave chess early to arrive on time. The second of these was to arrive at fencing training 15 to 20 minutes late. Arriving late to fencing wasn’t an option as having signed my Australian team member contract it states I must not only arrive but be punctual to all sessions. As such, arriving late violates the terms of my agreement. The only option then was to leave chess early. However, this seemed to defeat the purpose of going at all. As mentioned in previous posts, while the weekly lunchtime sessions, which I could still attend, are enjoyable, the most effective environment to reform and improve my skillset is the Friday afternoon sessions. This is because it is against a stronger pool of applicants but also because it involves more problem solving than the third option - playing against the computer of chess.com. This is for two reasons, firstly, being a computer it is programmed to play a certain set of predetermined moves in response to known patterns. Therefore, by employing a well-known opening sequence of moves there’s no thinking in how to respond as the computer will play as the theory suggests and one will know how to respond in such a way that removes the problem-solving aspect from the game. By contrast, playing against fallible opponents means they are likely to make moves that don’t align with traditional theory and so forces you to think and reflect on the game you are playing. Were I to leave early, I would miss two games or 50% of the training time and the session would prove minimally productive at best. Recognizing the aim of this aspect of my CAS, to develop well enough to attain a chess ranking, it seems pointless to practice minimally and infrequently; as this approach would require. 

As such, I have been required to adopt a new primary creative experience to satisfy my C.A.S. requirements. I have chosen to join the school choir. This is for numerous reasons. The primary two reasons are as follows: 

Whilst choir has weekly mandatory assemblies they occur in the morning and do not conflict with any of my schooling or extracurricular activities. This means that I will be able to attend all sessions. Furthermore, I can be sure it won’t clash with any school commitments as it run by the school and, because of this, I can be certain that the school won’t double book itself as there are precautions to ensure this won’t happen. 

There is a genuine need for my involvement. In term four each year the year twelves no longer attend school as they’ve graduated and begun their final set of extensive preparation for their final exams. However, this means the positions they filled in the choir, mainly those in the base section, are now left unfilled and the overall sound of the choir diminishes significantly. As such, my involvement as a base means that I can help fill the void left by the year twelve’s absence. 

Having done choir in years seven and eight I recognize it can be a fun and enjoyable means of relaxing. Additionally, having the opportunity the engage the left hemisphere of the brain has been shown to help with mental health. Specifically, it has been shown to elevate mood and even improve academic performance. These two instrumental benefits are also reasons I am excited to return to the choir. 


I believe recent events, and my response to them, have demonstrated a number of IB learning profile initiatives. These are as follows: 


Learning Outcome three and four seem to have been particularly satisfied. Recognizing not only current but future commitments I have planned the following C.A.S. experiences better in such a way that will allow me to sustain my involvement regularly. Furthermore, building off my previous experiences in years seven and eight seems to be an excellent way of developing the creative aspects of my person and developing a more holistic character. I believe this to be especially true of myself as I while I often engage in creative endeavors such as debating or public speaking, I rarely, in recent years, have engaged in those that pertain to music. 

Learning outcome two has also been met. As mentioned, I have had experience in the choir. However, as a junior, I was a member of the alto section as oppose to the base section, and so it presents a new unique experience in and of itself. Furthermore, perhaps the more important point is that my capacity as an involved member never extended to leading. Now, as a member of the base section, I am expected to lead the junior boys in modeling good behavior and positive attitudes. This pertains to elements such as: showing up on time; following instructions; supporting the directions given by head choristers; and offering assistance to newer or younger members who may be struggling with their music. 

Finally, below is an attached email exchange between me and the head of choir Mr. Scott outlining my return. 

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13/8/19 - 

Today I attended my first choir session. It was a pleasant surprise to see many friends and familiar faces arrive and begin vocal warmups alongside myself. I retrieved spare sheet music off my friends and a pen with which to make notes from my friend Alistair so I could become familiar with the repertoire the choir had practiced in case it was performed. Nothing of extraordinary note presented itself during the session. However, despite being situated in the base section whose register in most pieces is very low, there is still considerable vocal range amidst the repertoire. Since it has been three years since I have properly participated in a choir, a good place to look for easy improvement was to take note of the types of vocal exercises undertaken at choir rehearsal so I could do them in my own time. This is to improve the upper end of my vocal range.

27/11/19 - 

Today was my first official performance as a member of the 2019 Newington college choir. It was a small Christmas chapel carrol night. The evening was divided into bible readings and traditional christen hymns that the choir but also the general public were able to participate in. It was an enjoyable evening and served as a good practice for Prize Giving, the largest annual performance, which we’re to do next week.

There was one interesting part of the evening that occurred before the performance. As a senior boy, I was expected to help organize and direct the younger students. I was very thankful that I had other leaders there to help instruct me as to what to do. This isn’t to say my leadership skills are underdeveloped. However, I was able to recognise that having not been in the choir for the full year I am less familiar with students, and this being my first performance in a considerable time I was unsure as to whether the routine had changed and what the expectations of the boys are. 

This was an interesting experience as, generally, the leadership positions I am in are ones where I have a high degree of competence or familiarity with the protocol. For example, when I conducted the year seven Newington Fencing Program I felt comfortable as I was a national fencer with a wealth of experience. It was interesting to see how, while the same underlying leadership skills hadn’t disappeared, the difference in the contextual foundation under which this knowledge could be implemented had such a great difference in my skill as a choir leader. Furthermore, it was useful to see how other leaders could help me feel more comfortable by offering assistance.

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2/12/19 - 

Today was the final choir performance for the year. We performed the Irish blessing May The Road RiseI. Performing the music demonstrating the collaborative aspect of the choir in a way that I previously didn’t appreciate. Superficially, one can note that an aggregate of individuals singing allows for a more holistic and grand sound. Additionally, it allows peoples with different abilities to undertake pieces with greater dynamic and vocal range. However, when singing atop the stage and not only singing but listening to the sound we produced allowed me to realize how important group work is. Each section had moments where they sang lines particularly uniquely that contributed to the majesty of the piece while others were less stunning. Listening to my own but also others perform their special, for example, vocal rungs or dynamic variation provided me with a greater appreciation for group work both in an academic and societal context. Most members of a group have moments where they flourish or contribute in unique and interesting ways. However, like when singing, these are exemplified and perhaps only possible with the continual support of the other members who had laid and were supporting the foundation of the piece. Extrapolated to general collaboration, it was firstly a gentle reminder as to how when we view merit we ought to always remember that the strides of others are built of the continued perseverance of others. Secondly, it demonstrated how when everybody participates the process itself becomes valuable. If any section were to perform individually it would be nice. Yet, when all sections come together the process of collaboration seemed to possess some intrinsic beauty or value and it ensured every section was afforded the opportunity to flourish. Again, if extrapolated to a wider context it is evident of how global relations need to be maintained so each society can support one another in a pluralistic and cohesive manner as to allow each group’s conception of the good can be actualized.