Saturday, 18 April 2015

Prompt 1: blast from the past

January 21 2026
Imagine if you had the chance to go back to any moment in time. Any day. Any one at all. You could fix your mistakes, win the lottery, anything. I had that chance.
In 2021, time travel was discovered. Every day, someone gets their turn to use the technology while everyone else waits to die, unsure if they'll ever get their turn at all.
My name is Arianna Simeons and this is my story.

"Hello ma'am, we're from the ITTA. Is citizen 907652 here?" Curious, I watched from the kitchen as the big men in black suits asked my mother about me.
"I'm sorry sir, what is this about? I have an obligation to protect my daughter." Confused, I opened the heavy kitchen door a little further, careful not to make too much noise. Why was mum being so formal and defensive?
"You're 473250 I assume? Identity Jennifer Simeons?" Mum nodded as the man pushed past her.
"You know who we are, don't you? Well then you'll understand. Its Arianna's time. She's special ma'am. We had to change the lines to take her but she is going to save us all." Not waiting for mum's response, the man came into the kitchen and pulled me roughly to my feet, shoving me out the door. Once outside, his partner pushed me into a rusty blue pickup truck and we sped away, never to return.

That was 5 years ago. Now I'm 21 years old, living in a building with cold, white washed walls and it's time to go. My brother and I used to spend hours talking about what we would do, when we would go if we ever had the chance. Not long ago they brought my brother here too so I would stop having such bad nightmares. It didn't work.

"Hey Ari! Where are you going?" My brother Jason called after me as I walked down the sterile halls toward my never ending nightmare. Slowly, I turned to face him.
"The simulation ends today Jason. We're going." Eyes widening in fear, Jason sprinted to catch up as I turned back and started down the hall again.
"When are we going Ari? Why do they think we have all the answers?"
Stopping abruptly, I looked to my younger brother and admitted my biggest fear.
"I don't know Jase."
A few hours later, all the equipment was ready and our advisor was asking some last minute questions. Little things like what food he should have made for our trip home and how long we wanted to stay in the past. It was all just busywork though. He was waiting until it was time for the biggest question of them all.
"Okay Adrianna, this is it. When do you want to go?" Taking a deep breath, I readied myself to say what I had decided so many years ago.
"April 12th, 2014. The day Julianna Kelley took her own life."
Jason looked over at me and gasped, a question on the tip of his tongue. Before he could ask his important question, professor Leerson flipped the final switch that sent us back in time.

As Jason stumbled after landing 12 years in the past, I turned towards a familiar building behind us. "Ari? Where are we?" Glancing back at my brother before hopping on the lid of a garbage bin to pull down the fire escape, I told him what he probably didn't want to know. "We're here Jase. This is the alley behind the Kelley's apartment." Turning even more pale than he normally was, my brother shut his mouth and climbed onto the garbage bin as I ran up the old fire escape as fast as I dared.

Moments later, we reached Michael's bedroom window. Michael was Julianna's brother and his room was only a few feet from hers. Realizing my plan, Jason grabbed my shoulder. "Are you sure this is a good idea Ari? I know Julie's death is what tore you and Mike apart but is this really worth it? Do you think you could deal with having her back? What if..." Pulling away from my brother, I told him the same thing I had been telling myself for weeks. "It doesn't matter how it ends up or what I think, this is what needs to happen. Don't ask me why but I'm sure of it." Having made up my mind, I crawled into my ex-boyfriend's bedroom (did it really count as ex? I mean, we hadn't broken up at the time in his world... Oh well.) and walked quickly to the door, knowing that there was no one home. Taking a deep breath, I walked into the hall with it's plush new carpeting and threw open Julianna's door just in time to see her stepping up onto a chair and reaching for a rope hung from the ceiling.

Time slowed down as I ran towards her and grabbed the rope before she could reach it. Bursting into tears, she swung a fist at me and collapsed into my arms.

Should I continue?

Saturday, 17 January 2015

Creative Writing Prompts!

A while ago I got this great eBook; 1000 creative writing prompts Volume 2: more ideas for blogs, scripts, stories and more by Brian Cohen and Jeremiah Jones.
I haven't really been using it so I decided to start trying. Every week, I'll pick a prompt or two to write and post right here on my blog!
Maybe I'll even get in the habit of posting regularly, we'll see!

Sunday, 4 January 2015

Why I can't go sledding

So, just like a lot of other kids and teens I know, I love sledding. Problem is, I have a track record of having some pretty bad luck. When I was younger I missed sledding into a creek... And got stuck in the bushes instead.
I've always had some pretty strange things happen but it wasn't a problem until last year. I was sledding with a whole bunch of my friends as usual and then I decided to try and hit the jump that was about halfway down the hill. I was right on track and bracing myself to go flying when the sled turned just a little bit and I hit the side of the jump and went up up up and then hit my head on the wood and landed with my back on an uncomfortably sharp piece of ice.
In the end, I had a minor concussion and stayed at home whining about how the light was attacking me for a week and going out a couple nights to play with the school bands.
Nothing can keep me away from music!

So my parents were hesitant to let me go sledding this year for obvious reason. But after I pleaded for about thirty seconds, gave up and promised not to go on any jumps, I was good to go. This year though, I went sledding twice and injured myself each time. The first day wasn't too bad. It was cold enough that we were the only one's out there and we were having a lot of fun. But then I had to hit the one part of the hill that would send me into the air. This time, I hit it dead on and flew through the air in a near perfect arc. I came down for what looked like it was going to be a perfect landing... And I landed on my kneecaps off the sled, crushing my knees with pain.

But that actually wasn't too bad. After a minute of rest and another hour of running around, I was okay. I was just kind of sore the next morning. Then, I was at my friend's new year's party. We went sledding and were loving it but I hit my head a few too many times and ended up with a minor concussion. If that wasn't enough, (and clearly it wasn't because stubborn as I am, I had to keep going) on what we declared was going to be our last run of the day, all seven of us went down the hill and two of us hit a tree. It was the tree we had all been hitting all afternoon because all paths on that hill seem to lead to that tree but that time was special. We struck the tree in such a way that her knee and my foot took all of the force. Now, I am on crutches once again and my knee seriously doesn't like me. The girl who was on the sled with me managed to scrape a few layers of skin on her knee and have it become a rainbow.
Lesson learned mother nature! You don't want me sledding. I get it.

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Choir letter

For our most recent choir assignment, we were given the task of writing a letter to the school board with the idea that they had decided to cancel all music classes in our division (this isn't happening, we have one of the best music programs ever and a supportive division). Here is my letter:

St. James School Division,
Our music program is a very important part of our school and it would be a very bad idea to cancel that. I say this because had I not been fortunate enough to have the musical experiences that I did, I would be a very different person today. As it is, I have developed an interest in many different types of music as well as multiple instruments and I attend at least one concert every month of the year just to listen and support my fellow musicians. It would not be an exaggeration to say that I have no idea what I would be doing if I was not involved in our music programs. Every year, I participate in our school's musical theater production as well as singing in the concert, jazz and divisional choirs and playing in the concert band and wind ensemble.

Music has always meant a lot to me. As a young child, I would use everything as a drum and copy rhythms that I heard. From Grade one until now, I have taken every opportunity I could from dance to choir to drum classes and the Sundays with the family series at the symphony. All of my teachers have been very supportive of me and have helped me realize my dreams. Music has gotten me through some of the hardest times of my life and it has kept me striving to do more- to be more. Ever since I was eight years old, I have wanted to play the french horn and when I started grade seven, that's what I did. With the help of my band teachers and the other students as well as a band camp and some private teachers, I am currently playing french horn with the wind ensemble and I couldn't imagine anything more fun. My music teachers have helped me become who I am today. I remember one day in grade six so well. I was going to practice my trumpet so that I would be a better player when I got to start the french horn and I opened the band room doors to see the jazz choir and I didn’t want to interrupt them and only two of them noticed me so I just tried to stay quietly by the doors. I planned to wait until they stopped singing and pass them to go to the storage room where I practiced but that’s not what happened. I recognized the song they were working on- Somewhere over the rainbow and I sat in a chair and sat there for the rest of the lunch hour, quiet and unnoticed but just listening. That is what made me want to sing jazz and never give up n music. 6 years later, I am still in jazz choir and I absolutely love it, it’s my favorite part of my week.

Music classes are a way to bring people together. It’s something you choose, you’re not forced into it so everyone genuinely wants to be there and for the most part, they’re working hard to get better. Since there are so many different people in any given music class, being in almost all of them has taught me a lot. I’ve learned to get along and actually be friends with so many different people and I’ve learned practical music skills and I’ve learned some more interesting skills. I’ve learned to be more independant and I’ve actually learned more about math with music. I’ve never been good at math, It’s easily my worst subject but music can get me through it because now, I can relate most things I don’t like to something I love. Finally, music has taught me to never give up on myself. It’s given me some much more confidence than I ever had before and it really doesn’t matter that not a lot of people believe in my dreams, I do and that’s what matters to me.

As a kid, I was in and out of therapy a fair amount and I saw countless guidance counsellors. It helped but not very much and it just didn’t end up too great for anyone. In middle school, I started to really enjoy music and I joined musical groups and classes at every opportunity. That’s what really helped me. Music is my outlet and it’s the only way I know how to truly express myself. Whether it’s singing or dancing or playing in the band or writing or arranging or even just sitting in my room, listening to whatever we’re learning in choir, music makes everything just a little bit clearer to me.

Just weeks ago, I was very fortunate to have attended the symphonic overdrive concert at the centennial concert hall and I was lucky enough to have a front row seat. Just being there was one of the most amazing experiences in my life, even as a regular symphony goer. The experience didn’t end there though. once the concert had ended and everyone was leaving, I was one of the last people to go as I had been near the center of the room. The man who had played drums throughout the concert stopped me from leaving and started to talk to me about how great it was to see someone younger there. We began to talk and due to the many experiences in our music programs, I had a lot to say. We discussed the opportunities I had had as a student in St. James and as someone who went to various summer music camps. After about twenty minutes of talking about music, he suddenly asked me to sing. I was a bit hesitant but agreed and I sang Somewhere over the Rainbow for him since it was my inspiration to be a jazz performer and then I sang the arrangement of Brain Stew by Green Day that I had performed over the summer. As I was singing, he motioned offstage and Randy Bachman himself came to greet me and told me not to give up on music. That day, I was reminded of how lucky I am to have access to the programs that we do as well as the encouraging and supportive staff.

To restate, I truly believe in the deepest recesses of my heart that losing any part of our beloved music programs here in St. James would be a real shame and it would hurt a lot of people. I know that there are many kids like me out there and I have seen firsthand how music helps them. My younger brother for example, has ADHD/ADD and most likely OCD. I don’t say that he suffers from it because he really doesn’t. He takes every musical opportunity offered to him just as I have and it centers him and it gives him something to look forward to each and every day.

In addition to my personal experiences, there is a lot of research to back me up. Stanford and Harvard are two among many places that have done a lot of research into the topic and they’ve all come to the conclusion that even just listening to music can engage more areas of our brain than most activities society often views to be “more important” such as studying math or writing essays. I’m not trying to say that these other activities have less merit or are unimportant and neither is Stanford but I want to point out that children who are involved in music often have more successful lives in the long run and are happier overall. They’re also often easier to get along with.

In conclusion, I think that getting rid of our music programs is one of the worst things you could do for this division. From an ADHD ten year old, a sixteen year old with a panic disorder and some of the most highly regarded universities, I believe that the evidence music helps us all is irrefutable. It would be very foolish to deprive children of the amazing opportunities I have had.

Coral-Louise Militere

Saturday, 1 November 2014

NaNoWriMo widget 1

<img src=",pc,days.png">

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Listening Log #1 2014/2015

It's been a pretty long time since my last post I guess. I get busier all the time and these things slip my mind.
First of all, I can't believe that I'm going to be sixteen tomorrow! I have got to say, I feel really very blessed to have such a great birthday this year. Tomorrow, I will wake up a little early to start my first of 3 choirs and a band rehearsal for the day. Such a musical day is all I could ever ask for and I'm so lucky to get to spend a substantial part of that day with my close friends.

Anyways, more about all that in my next post. For now, here's another listening log for jazz choir. This one is a little bit different. 10 songs all at once and I'll only have a couple sentences about each.

1. centerpiece by Lambert, Hendricks and Ross
I love that throughout the piece, even though it's very repetitive, the entire song remained very interesting. They played with the tempo a lot towards the end, slowing parts down until the very end when they just had a big rit. I think my favorite part about it was the style. The notes were separated while still being quite long and they were never ever static, everything was going somewhere, even if it was subtle.

2. Lush life by Lady Gaga
All the spaces between phrases in this song were very alive. Particularly in the beginning, Gaga stretched her phrases a lot and in many ways, her singing continued through the rests. She wasn't actually vocalizing but she never truly ended her thought until the very end.

3. My sugar is so refined by the Hi-Lo's
There are two things that have always struck me about this song. The first is the way it incorporates very straight classical style as well as swung jazz and they go hand in hand quite well in a very enjoyable song. The second is the dynamic contrast. The impact of the song just isn't the same without all the extreme dynamics. It goes from a forte down to a piano between one note and the next and it's extremely effective and makes for a very entertaining song that's also fun to sing!

4. Moondance- arranged by Jeremy Fox
The group performing in this video also has stunning dynamics with great breath accents exactly where is fitting. The dynamics compliment the breath accents in order to create an audio experience that takes you past notes on a page and gives you a story. The performance takes you on the adventure created by the song.

5. Corcovado- Lisa Ono-
The first thing I noticed about this performance was that Lisa Ono conveys story very very well. I do not understand a single word she's saying but her tone and the small details she's putting into her singing convey so much emotion, I don't have to. The way she sings it presets it's own story, seperate from whatever the song is actually about. The two are related but they aren't quite the same.

6. The Tender Trap- Frank Sinatra- htt://
The energy is definitely the biggest part of this song. The overall message is pretty comedic but true. None of this comes across without energy and 'ol blue eyes is great for that. The entire song he's really just saying "hey boy, when you fall in love, you will be absolutely hopeless and there is no escape." His energy shows so much and keeps the song itself engaging.

7. This masquerade- Leon Russell
First of all, I love this song so so much. My favorite part of this performance of it is the absolute freedom in the phrasing. It's the same idea as it's written but he pushes and pulls the phrases and the melodies just run together so beautifully, I could listen to this for hours and not get tired of it. Leon leaves spaces between the phrases and that in itself is a different idea. All the freedom and time to think adds so much to an already gorgeous piece.

8. Master Blaster- Stevie Wonder
I love this song because it's just so much fun! Stevie Wonder is obviously a great performer and does so well with improvising just little bits of lyric as he goes. The whole song just builds and builds from beginning to end and he makes that very clear, adding parts and getting louder and becoming simply more intense in what he does.

9. Wings to fly- All-State Jazz Choir- http://youtube./4Gf7Rc3hMIE
The beauty of this song is in it's simplicity. There are no words and it's fairly simple, three parts for a fair amount of the song, sometimes splitting into as many as six. It also doesn't sound like an incredibly challenging chart by listening at first but if you listen carefully, you can tell how much work is required to really get to the level that this choir did. There's such an emotional story to it and even if you have no idea what that story is, you know it's there just from the shape they're conveying so well. I really appreciate the heart put into this performance.

10. Autumn leaves- Eric Clapton-
I've heard pieces of this song many, many times and it's a very beautiful song. Eric Clapton's performance has such a careful softness to it, it makes the entire piece sounds very delicate and adds a whole new layer to the song. It's such simple phrasing that he uses, little quick pieces of melody but they fit together so nicely, it's paints a stunning picture of the song as a whole and the whole performance has so much emotion, I had to listen to it three or four times before I could even write anything about it, I had to keep reminding myself to come back out of the music and really think about it.

Monday, 24 March 2014

I'm still here!

Hi there!
So, I haven't blogged in a while. Five months actually. But don't worry, I'm still here. I've just been busy and sort of forgot about blogging. Since I last blogged on my birthday in October, we've been having a great year for all my music groups. The little group I set up had tons of fun at our remembrance day ceremony back in November. During that month, we also had our first divisional choirs concert of the year, went to choral fest with divisional choir, school choir and jazz choir and every performance was lots of fun! We performed with the WSO for their annual Prairie families Christmas concert and the jazz choir performed at the first annual jazz concert for the school and at our student recognition ceremony. There was also the annual winter concert featuring all of our concert bands, our wind ensemble, percussion ensemble and the choir! That was one busy month and so much fun.

Then, in December, we had our annual candlelight concert with the divisional choirs and it was splendid as usual. There was, of course, performances of Shrek: the musical and Legally Blonde at Sturgeon and Westwood respectively. The school choir warmed hearts when we sang at the school's senior Christmas dinner and I loved seeing many of my friends perform in their school's Christmas concerts. One amazing and very busy month!

January may not have been filled to the brim with concerts but it was certainly busy, preparing for exams and festivals with as much practice as we could possibly fit as well as performing standard solos for each other in jazz choir.

Moving on to February, I was kept very busy with events such as my Brother's wedding, the school open house and a performance at music celebration. February was also a particularly busy month for our school's bands with each one having a performance at the provincial optimist festival. It was my first festival in about three years and I had so much fun with both bands despite having a concussion from a few days earlier and I would not trade that experience for anything.

March has been just as busy and I'm not expecting it to slow down anytime soon. This month, I took third place in a French speaking competition, just behind one of my best friends and performed at Winnipeg Music festival twice, each time with amazing groups of singers I could not imagine having spent the year without. We took three gold medals between the two performances and were even invited to the annual choral excellency concert for some of the top choirs at the festival. I could not be more proud. Just last week, the jazz choir sang at a clinic with Jeremy Fox and we had so much fun singing and laughing together. We're growing every day and I'm really grateful for the chance to have this year with these guys. It's one of the most amazing groups of friends I have been fortunate enough to find and I have to stop once in a while and recognize that. Everyone helps each other, we laugh together, we make mistakes together and three or four times a week, we grow together.

Choir and band really are some of the most amazing experiences of my life and they're not going to stop. In the next three months of school, our performances will include a special coffeehouse night just for jazz choir that features each singer in a solo of their own with a professional rhythm section. The same week, all of the jazz bands will be performing at our big band dance, a time to laugh and dance and let loose with our friends while listening to amazing, live music performed by people we see every day. The day after the big band dance, we have Cabaret! a night featuring each of our three divisional choirs and a few soloists and small groups mostly singing show tunes and a few pop songs done by the choir. It's an amazing night every year and one of the best concerts I can remember performing at. In may, we've got four concerts, all worth getting excited about! The divisional choirs will have their final concert for the year which promises to be an amazing and emotional event as we say goodbye to our seniors with the traditions that never fail to make just about half of our senior choir and many parents cry as we wish everyone a good rest of their year and listen to the seniors sing some beautiful solos. In the same month, we say goodbye to some more seniors at our school's band final concert and in the final choirs' concert, both wonderful events one day after another with some of the most beautiful music and some selections that are always so much fun to learn. The one other concert that we already know about, is a new one. The jazz choir has been invited to sing at a Young Humanitarians event for the Manitoba Teacher Society. We're not totally sure what's going on yet but we're definitely excited for it!

So that's basically my entire year in music. Seems busy, doesn't it? As busy as it is, it keeps me going and It's how I've made some of the best friends I've got who are always there for me, no matter what's happening.
So, that's all for now.

Have  good week!