Creativity Post

A little bit of everything 

Over the past few months, I have done a culmination of far too many things creatively to rant on about on my CAS blog without boring my readers, however I will give you a few small snapshots into the greater things I accomplished this semester. Admittedly, initially, I always thought of CAS as something which highlights a monumental non-academic achievements which you have participated in, but over the past few terms I have gradually learned that that is indeed not the case. CAS is about how you incorporate these 3 elements into daily life and how you benefit from it and how others benefit from you taking part in them, so this time around, instead of focusing on one major event aside from those already described in my CAS blog, I chose to take a step back and admire the bigger picture, by looking at the ways in which I employ creativity in my day to day life. Creativity has become of the essence to me as of late because I have just gone through another tumultuous turn of events where we went from online school, to in person school, to online school and lockdown… yet again. It’s almost like we come full circle each year!

Needless to say I have been taking part in activities that both consciously and subconsciously employ my creative side ranging from creating posters and posts for various social media sites for my service groups, to mindfully taking part in meditation sessions to coloring and photography and last but not least… music. This term I have come to have a more focused approach on myself in terms of self care and learning to derail a bit from the often draining academic train that is the IB outside of the classroom.

I have done everything from helping my mom rearrange the living room, to creating and organizing aesthetic Pinterest boards of things I hope to accomplish, to serenading my dogs with Jason Mraz accompanied by my guitar (this is a secret), to dedicating time into making playlists with over 200 songs each to match each mood I’m feeling to name a few. I have also actively spent more time on perfecting photography and editing as well as just spent a laidback day doing therapeutic coloring with my friend and just sat down to do guided meditation for 15 minutes each day. None of these activities may seem extremely glorious, but as someone who is constantly on the move and a bit of a workaholic at times, I am proud of the fact that I have gotten myself into the consistent rhythm of taking at least an hour away each day to unwind, which earlier, I found shockingly difficult to bring myself to    do.

This time around the activities I have done in terms of creativity are intended not to please others but to to satisfy myself, a much needed serotonin boost of sorts as I feel like I strive too often to make others happy to the extent where I don’t tend to my own needs and just end up stressed and frustrated instead. Usually my outlet for releasing stress is being on a pitch kicking a soccer ball around, but with lockdown weighing heavily on Sri Lanka again, I have had to find more creative ways of stress relieving, keeping my mental wellbeing at the forefront of my mind.

Accomplishment wise, mine may not be a great deal astonishing, but I do have to acknowledge the fact that this is somewhat of a major personal milestone and that by putting myself first at times, I have become more attentive to my interactions with others! For example, my Spotify is now a carefully curated list of playlists ranging from classical, to rap, French music to improve my listening and speaking skills to numerous others that capture my emotions. It has also given me the ability to get to know a few of my classmates better due to similarities in music taste and it have given me a great amount of joy to be able to share something that I consider personal to myself with others. I have also dedicated a fair share of time to spend with my friends, for example the other week my friend Shreya and I decided to do online coloring for about 30 minutes which was a great way for us to catch up given that we hadn’t seen each other in person for a while and in the way that we were able to work as a team to carefully complete each piece!

< A piece I created with Shreya during Lockdown

Moreover, something else that I have taken up as a new endeavor is meditation. Initially I must admit I was a bit skeptical but one night I was so overwhelmed by my work that I thought the only way to calm myself down might be to try meditation so I spent about 30 minutes of my night the first time listening to Deepak Chopra’s ‘Fear’ to calm myself down, and what did I know, it worked! From then on I spend 15 minutes each night listening to a podcast of sorts and attempt to focus on nothing else but my breathing and the words of the narrator in that time and it has been proven massively relieving each time.

That aside something else that I have been spending significant time on is photography, personally, I tend to take a camera or in the least my phone with me wherever I go, so in that way I can capture an image at a moment’s notice. I was truly able to exercise my aptitude for photography when I was in Hanthana,  the views were spectacular and I had just discovered some presets on Polarr which I immediately had to use. In a way, I was aiming for a more abstract image of things simple due to the composition of the landscapes and I wanted to make something different. Needless to say, I am really happy with the way in which they came out and can’t wait for another opportunity take more photos like that again! Similarly, I have also been paying attention to my video edits.  I must admit though that with the end of my DP1 experience nearing, I have been finding less and less time and motivation to edit, which does make sense because at this stage I do need to be prioritizing my school work.

In my off time however, I have spent a small amount of time working with new apps like Cap Cut to try out new filters and transitions. For example, my most recent exploration is creating videos with photographs that turn 3D when a certain effect is applied, I am constantly blown away by the developments in technology and I was fascinated with the outcomes. Although my editing account has reached somewhat of a hiatus for the time being, I have every intention of starting it back up full force when summer vacation starts so I’m really looking forward to that!

Last but certainly not least is my newest update on my adventures in the kitchen. When comparing  my cooking  from when I started this  blog to the work that I am capable of doing now, even the blind can see the extent to I have improved by in only a matter of months. My cooking has grown from me only being able to make instant ramen and a fried egg to being capable of  making a full meal! Sure, I do occasionally have my missteps (often because I have an irrational tendency to improvise), but also because trial is the only way towards perfecting newer recipes. My parents have so much faith in my cooking now that I was even given permission to bake a batch of cupcakes completely unsupervised if would you believe it!  (They came out tasting amazing for the record, although I grossly misjudged the ingredients and ended up with a 22 instead of the mere 6 I needed 💀) Regardless, my cooking skills have witnessed a major growth curve of the past year and I think I might just be on the right track to being able to feed myself during university!

Here is of my favorite dishes I made this month, spaghetti and shrimp with white sauce  :))

^ a link to my 3D video edit

Winter Wonderland

Final Guitar Ensemble Performance – Spreading the Christmas Cheer *virtually*

Although this year’s guitar ensemble sessions were far beyond unconventional, we certainly found a way to make things work. Towards the beginning of the semester we practiced for the Pink Panther theme song which we all learned but ultimately never pieced together for unknown reasons. However, in realizing we were indeed called the guitar ‘ensemble’, we agreed it felt necessary to at least execute one well rehearsed piece together.

Now, on a normal school year, we would have all been recruited my Miss. Duncan (the music teacher) to participate in the annual Winter Gala – one of the ensemble’s well anticipated performances, but naturally, corona deterred and we were forced to settle for a more unique performance. Instead; we decided to spread the Christmas spirit virtually! We felt this was fitting, especially since it was much needed this year, with a lot of us being isolated from loved ones and without being able to celebrate extravagantly like a lot of families usually do. (LO2 , 4 & 7)

So with a little coordination from Mr. Marlon, we spent roughly 2 (or in my case 1 and 1/2) Wednesday sessions rehearsing to play the classic “Winter Wonderland” by Bing Crosby. The first lesson was spent familiarizing ourselves with the chords and notation with the group members being assigned their parts, while, I, on the other hand had to miss the crucial second session where they played the chords together for another meeting!!

Regardless; I was eager to not let the rest of my peers down and immediately contacted Mr. Marlon who kindly initiated a make up zoom call lesson for me sometime around 10:30 pm (I may have panicked because I thought the video would be displayed at the end of year assembly the very next day) and we were on our way.  I struggled minorly with the time keeping especially because in a usual ensemble setting you could hear the tempo of the other guitars playing and timing it accordingly but I had to do it by counting. (LO5) The last thing I wanted was to be too fast or too slow because I was playing the most recognizable chords to the song. After working our way through multiple unfamiliar chords and after learning how to track the tempo mentally, I finally called it a day at 11:30 pm, after completing multiple retakes of Winter Wonderland (so many that I was unwilling to listen to Bing Crosby for the rest of the Christmas season :)) and finally gave my guitar strings a much needed break. (LO 4)

Despite the rush to finish, I guess Mr. Marlon didn’t intend for us to show our pre-recorded video the next day because I received the video only two days ago (which might I add is a partial relief because we weren’t necessarily looking the most spirited in our pajamas and flimsy excuses for Christmassy outfits).  It turns out our video was sent to the entire OSC staff instead on the 25th to celebrate Christmas and the work they have done for us in the last term! It was a rather thoughtful gesture and I hope we brightened up their day even by a little bit! :))

I felt proud of the group overall and especially of Mr. Marlon’s editing skills since it came out extremely well timed taking into consideration each of us had a different set of notation to play and recorded it separately without being in the same room as the other! It was quite a feat and thankfully resembled a piece that we would have performed in person. I feel like as a group this year, we overcame a lot, naturally in the same time frame face to face, we would have completed around 2 more pieces, but rehearsal time became limited this year. In addition to that we had less group members at the meetings so the compositions had to be altered and we practiced in rather strange formations from going solo to two person break out rooms to finally playing together. Overall, despite our many shortcomings resources wise this year, we jumped a lot of hurdles (musical and technical); a  Christmas miracle if you will…

^ The link to our video!

First Online Guitar Ensemble Session

Guitar Ensemble on Zoom – The Pink Panther Theme Song

Guitar Ensemble is one of my continued extracurriculars from last year; an activity which I take part in because of my love for music and the guitar which  I have sometime since the second grade. (LO4)

Only last year, I took up learning 3 pieces, the Minuet in G by John Sebastian Bach, Fly Me to the Moon by Frank Sinatra and the Hawaii 5-0 theme song by Morton Stevens in fingerstyle to play with the ensemble. This was a challenge to me, personally, since I was used to only playing riffs, basslines and chords but the after school activity required me to step outside of my comfort zone to learn fingerstyle progressions and convert my knowledge of music notation (which I learned from piano lessons when I was younger) onto the frets of a nylon string guitar. (LO1 & 2)

After months of practice we finally made progress as a group; each of of learning our parts individually and then playing them in combination to create a complete medley. Unfortunately for us, just as the performance was coming together for us to perform at the Spring Gala, the school came to a close and the ensemble came to halt.

Thankfully, this year we were more prepared and decided to continue the guitar ensemble sessions on zoom. I had my first meeting this week on Wednesday where a few of our members met to discuss the next piece we will be learning with our teacher, Mr. Marlon. We found out that we would be learning to play the Pink Panther theme song! This was something I was excited for because to me, the song is probably one of the most easily recognizable themes in the world from a show that I loved watching growing up.

It was my turn first to find out what I would be playing; for my first piece I would be assigned to play the chord progression for the song which is both a relief (it is undoubtedly difficult to learn fingerstyle pieces without in person guidance so chords had some sense of familiarity to it) and a challenge since 3 out of the 4 chords I have to learn are new to me. These chords are the b flat 7th, f7th and Am(major 9th).

I took a few minutes during the call to mirror Mr. Marlon’s finger positioning on his guitar and took pictures for me to remember the chord formations for the future. We made it up to the 20th bar and I soon got the hang of things like the strumming pattern, the counting and which strings should be strummed for each respective chord etc.

Naturally, the piece hasn’t come together yet and combined all the individual elements yet, so it doesn’t sound the same but there is familiarity to it. I am beyond excited for what we will be hearing in a couple of lessons when the bass, the chords, the 2 melody guitars and fingerpicking comes together! In the meantime though, I will continue to practice for at least 10 minutes a day.

Taking a look at the notation  >

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