In-Depth – The Final Stretch

Good progress has been made since the last in-depth post! Yuwen and I have each picked a song that is around 1 minute long so as to not surpass our allotted performance time. My song is from a fairly recent Chinese drama, and it can be roughly translated to “One who chases the light,” and Yuwen’s song is from a drama based on her eminent person’s life, and the translation for this song’s title is “Blank Stele.” We’ve started practicing these two pieces, but there are more technical elements that need to be added to spice up the songs.

I’ve made my way through a few more songs, including the Flower drum song, and I’m learning more about controlling my tempo and managing a faster and more consistent rhythm. I’m focusing more on improving current techniques rather than learning new ones, which will be helpful for our performance. I’m about halfway through the third level, which is not quite as fast as I hoped I would be, but I think that my progress has been consistent lately which is very good. There’s been success in my pieces as I’ve been practicing harmonies.

One challenge that always seems to crop up is that I have a rather skewed sense of tempo. I speed up at parts which are easier, and struggle through parts that have more difficulty. I’ve been trying to work through this by using a metronome or tapping my foot to help keep myself on beat. This has been actually working pretty well, so I guess I could call it a success.

Another challenge was definitely finding the right song. The first song I thought of was “Fairytale” by Guang Liang, which is one of my childhood favourites. However, I soon discovered that the song sounded too much like a vocal melody and switched gears. Eventually I remembered my current choice of song, which I had listened to upon a friend’s recommendation. After playing it through I found that it was definitely workable.

Master of the Contemporary Short Story – Alice Munro

“When Patrick visits Rose’s family I see my father sitting at the kitchen table at my mother’s house at the end of Lowertown Road in Wingham and seeing the plastic swan with the paper napkins in it and my mother being ashamed on more levels than she can count. When Rose visits Patrick’s family I see my grandparent’s massive dining-room table in Oakville and feel the weight of the heavy silverware, just as Rose does, and I pass judgment in them as if this is the way they really were.”


This quote is very interesting as it reveals how Alice Munro’s story “The Beggar Maid” is actually a reflection of her own life and marriage. To me, this really means something, as every artist’s work somewhat represents themselves. There is no separating the art from the artist. Munro’s “rags to riches” story is almost similar to that of Cinderella as well. It also reveals the divide between the poor and the rich Canadians, and the differences in the quality of their lives.


“He came to visit her once, in North Vancouver. He described being greeted at the door by a ‘smashingly beautiful’ woman with a baby in her arms. She invited him in and since she didn’t have any alcohol in the house, and believed that people in literary circles had to be offered a drink, she didn’t offer him anything at all. Finally, in a parched voice, he asked for a drink of water.”


Editor Robert Weaver comes to visit Alice Munro at her home. This quote reminds me of a particular scene in John Green’s highly acclaimed novel “The Fault in Our Stars” in which Hazel and Augustus go to visit the author Peter Van Houten and he offers them a drink despite their age. When I read this passage, I thought it was quirky and that this particular idiosyncrasy was interesting. This passage reveals how editors and authors in Canada interacted before the digital age, and the assumptions that the young Alice Munro made.


“Women writers at the time had to keep their writing an undercover, clandestine operation and pretend that home and family and housework were the only important things in their lives.”


Especially in a strong patriarchal society dominated by white men, women were expected to be meek and look after the home. This ties in to Jane Eyre’s author, Charlotte Bronte, who first published her works under the pen name Currer Bell. Her sisters also had corresponding pen names: Emily was Ellis Bell and Anne was Acton Bell. These names they picked were distinctly Christian male names, which ties into Munro’s experience of having to hide her profession from those around her. However, Canadians at the time were becoming more tolerant of women in the workplace, as Munro was actually making a lot of money from her short stories. Despite that, she still felt the need to hide the fact that she was an author from her neighbours, tucking away notebooks as if she had been doing nothing more important than writing up a shopping list.


“[It is] important to argue, at least with your husband, to resist going under. You had to prove you weren’t intellectually inferior, because all the popular Freudian psychology was saying that you were, that women were biologically incapable of logical or abstract thinking. I’m reminded of the episode in Lives of Girls and Women were Del has read an article about how men look at the sky and think of the universe, while women look at the sky and think, ‘I have to wash my hair.'”


Despite the fact that Munro and her husband agreed on many practical things, the couple fought over philosophical and political matters. Feminism was prominent in the mid-twentieth century, men were still dominant. I think that this issue is especially important considering that Munro is a female author who has to assert herself in her own household. Though women had the right to vote in Canada already, they were still seen as inferior both in thought and abilities. It reveals the difference between Canadian ideas of woman then versus now. It emphasizes Trudeau’s progressive views towards those who identify as female, in comparison to the views of the past.


“When her in-laws came out to visit from Oakville in the summer of 1958, one of several trips they made to the coast, she put aside her writing in order to entertain them, and it got to the point where she was almost frantic with frustration, afraid she would never write again. After that summer her identity as a writer came close to a collapse. Often she would sit down at her typewriter and not be able to write more than a sentence or two; she’d spend the rest of the day in a morose state of inactivity.”


Alice Munro had a sense of duty as a Laidlaw to entertain guests and hide her writing from those outside her immediate family. However, in doing so, she lost her identity as an author and fell into a writer’s block. Eventually she developed a strange anxiety where she thought she wasn’t able to breathe. I think that when an artist loses their inspiration, their muse, it can be really damaging to their sense of self, and this is what happened to Munro. As Canadians, we often have a strong of filial duty and take good care of our parents, whether they be blood-related or not. I think this applies to current Canadian values as well, and filial piety is still prominent.


Theme: To establish one’s identity, one must assert themselves intellectually and distinguish themselves from the status quo.



The End Justifies the Means


Mr. Morris


17 April 2018

The recent removal of Confederate statues in America have sparked controversy and a far-right wing riot in Charlottesville lead to extreme consequences of riots and millions of dollars of damage. Similarly, in Canada, the controversial debate of whether statues of the first Prime Minister Sir John A. Macdonald’s removal should be undertaken from the public has arisen. Known as a Father of Confederation by many Canadians, yet others view him as an architect of genocide. Yet due to his contributions to nation-building and progressive qualities considering his time period, Macdonald’s name and likeness should remain in public institutions and he should be remembered for his actions.
John A. Macdonald was both a great nation-builder and statesman. In order to achieve his dream of uniting Canada from coast to coast, he “worked steadily at completing the assembling of almost the whole of what is now Canada, adding the vast lands of the Hudson’s Bay Company, Rupert’s Land and the Northwestern Territory, in 1870, British Columbia in 1871, Prince Edward Island in 1873 and, finally, arranging the transfer to Canada by Britain of its huge foothold and claim” (Symons). In his lifetime, Macdonald managed to create the world’s second-largest nation by land mass. Not only that, but he brought together a collection of nations under his government. However, his task became even more difficult as he hoped to reconcile the English and the French-speaking communities of Canada. Macdonald once said, “I have no accord with the desire expressed in some quarters that by any mode whatever there should be an attempt made to oppress the one language or to render it inferior to the other” (Symons). He spoke out against those who intended to restrict the use of French or altogether eliminate it. Despite the cultural differences in this new nation, John A. Macdonald fiercely defended and maintained the view that Canada could have two official languages. Macdonald’s work as the first Prime Minister created a bilingual Canada and ensured his legacy as a statesman.
In spite of John A. Macdonald’s contributions to Canadian confederacy, criticism has arose for his discriminatory policies against Indigenous peoples, and how this reflects negatively on current Canadian values. However, Macdonald did extend a hand to the Indigenous communities and provide help to them. At the time, Macdonald commented that his government had “done all [they] could to put [the Indigenous] on themselves; [they had] done all [they] could to make them work as agriculturists; [they had] done all [they] could, by the supply of cattle, agricultural implements and instruction, to change them from a nomadic to an agricultural life. [They] had very considerable success; [they] had infinitely more success during [their] short period, than the United States […] had during twenty-five years” (Macdonald 1885). Agriculturalism is traditionally a mark of a more advanced society, and also provides a more reliable food source for the Indigenous peoples as well as technological advances. At the time this would have been more than fair, considering how other colonists at the time felt about non-white Canadians, and the natives’ way of living. With these factors in mind, Macdonald was particularly tolerant for his time period and did all that he could under his circumstances.
Macdonald united Canada from coast to coast, but recent claims of racism and Indigenous genocide have prompted people to call for his removal from the public sphere. However, his creation of a new nation and progressiveness for his era make him a figure worth remembering and honouring for decades to come. His dream of a nation bordered by three oceans blue, lives on as an extension of his legacy.

In-Depth Week 11: Coming to an Understanding

Since the last post, I met with my mentor once, as it was quite difficult to meet over the spring break since I was volunteering both weeks and there was the Easter weekend too. But I was assigned a more challenging song which I practiced a lot over the past couple weeks. It’s a famous song in China, and it’s supposed to mimic the beating of a drum. Yuwen and I are still trying to decide what song we should play at In-Depth night, but I’ve made good progress in the third book, learning many new techniques, such as covering the bridge of the guzheng to produce the drum beating sounds.

  1. What kinds of learning opportunities does the mentor provide to expose you to new learning?

My mentor provides me with many hands-on opportunities to play the guzheng and lets me try a lot of things by myself. She has also given me many challenges in the form of new pieces with an influx of technical aspects and tricky rhythms to work with.

  1. What kinds of learning opportunities exist to reinforce new learning?

I think that I can continue to practice, but I should also consider watching performances of other guzheng players. If there are any concerts anytime soon, I’ll go attend and learn more about how to perform. I can also try going on YouTube to find recorded performances and see how it’s done by the professionals. Even better, I could ask my mentor for tips.

  1. What kinds of opportunities exist that might accelerate learning?

There are many opportunities that I could take, such as discussing more in-depth with my teacher. I could also start recording lessons or taking audio clips to figure out where my mistakes are.

  1. When you get together what do you talk about?

Of course, when we get together, my mentor and I talk about the guzheng and what piece that Yuwen and I should play for our performance. We also talk about new techniques to be learned. Sometimes, we also discuss Chinese culture when we talk about pieces and where they originated from.

  1. What is going particularly well in your mentoring relationship right now?

Right now, I think I’m understanding my mentor a lot better, and I’m beginning to see that she wants us the two of us to be really self-directed, which is good in some respects. But I also think that there’s actually a lot of communication that could be improved on, and more guidance to be given. I feel rather unsatisfied with our current relationship, but as somebody who is inferior to my mentor and there be language barriers, I can’t express myself which is slightly frustrating.

  1. What are you learning about one another?

I think my mentor is learning more about my temperament and how I respond to challenges. As for me, I’m discovering that my mentor has a very relaxed approach to teaching, and that she prefers for Yuwen and I to have a hands-on experience where we try a lot of things by ourselves.

DOL #2 – The Battle of the Plains of Abraham

What effect did the Seven Years’ War and Battle of the Plains of Abraham have on Canadians?


Why is this an important and significant question to ask about the past?


It’s important to know more about the Seven Years’ War and the Battle of the Plains of Abraham because it was a pivotal moment which decided Canada’s future. It also established the British hegemony in North America, which lead to many other events such as the American Revolution.

This event is also very important because it influenced Canada’s creation and identity, especially within Quebec where the Francophones reside. Though New France was given to the British, the Francophones were permitted to stay. This lead to a majority of those living in Quebec speaking French, and Canada becoming a bilingual country.

Why did your researched events happen the way they did and what were the consequences?

Great Britain ended up winning in the Battle of the Plains of Abraham because of the actions of General Wolfe, and how he told the men to hold their fire at first. However, though the British occupied Quebec, their position was not secure. This lead to the Battle of Sainte-Foy, where positions were reversed, and the British were forced to retreat. The British and the French reached a stalemate, then British reinforcements arrived and the French were forced to surrender Montreal.

Is what happened right and fair by the values and standards of the time? How about from our current values and standards? Explain.


What happened at the Battle of the Plains of Abraham was fair by the standards of the time. Both Britain and France were seeking to conquer new land and monetary gain for themselves, which was normal. This culminated in a battle between these two powers, in which the British emerged triumphant.

However, by our current values and standards, the expansion of these European powers cannot be considered just. The British evicted Acadians living in the present day Maritime provinces and while New France was built on top of land which indigenous people had already been living on for thousands of years. In our modern day world, this would not be acceptable.


What conclusions can you reach about your question, based on the research you conducted?


The Seven Years’ War, particularly the Battle of the Plains of Abraham, had a huge effect on Canadian history. It serves as the basis to the modern day bilingual Canada, as both French and English are spoken in the country, particularly in the province of Quebec. It affected Francophones living in Quebec in the 1760s the most, as their land was taken over by the British. The French ceded their possessions to the British with the Treaty of Paris in 1763, though the French Canadians were given freedom of worship and were allowed to emigrate if they so wished.

Treaty of Paris