Personal Project Inquiry Questions
How can I learn to produce a collection of songs that showcase a variety of techniques, instruments, and vocals?
How did you choose your topic?
I started singing when I was really young, so music has been a part of my life for – well – for all my life. I’ve been at Meadowridge since Junior Kindergarten so I was exposed to music when I was really young. From music classes to even performing at café nights… I was young and had no inhibitions so I said yes to café nights because it wouldn’t matter if I was good because no one would care. [laughs] My older brother is also big into music, so it’s something we always talk about when he calls. My dad is also big into music; he has a diverse playlist that we always listen to in the car. I started by singing, but later got into playing the guitar and the ukulele. This project let me explore even more musical avenues. When I had to pick my topic, I figured I could choose a more creative or a more research-based project. I thought I’d rather do something fun, so I picked music production.
Walk me through the process: how did you get started? Did things change along the way? What was the overall experience like?
What I wanted to do was actually way more ambitious. Looking back, like, how did I think I could ever do that? [laughs] I thought I’d produce an EP with three or four songs and distribute them on Spotify. That was much more of a challenge than I thought it would be. So, I wrote four songs, but decided to only produce and distribute one.
When I started, I didn’t want to write super generic songs about love or breakups. I mean those are fine – you do you! – but that’s not what I wanted to do. I had four songs. They’re all kind of dark. I wrote a song about a drug dealer seeing the effects of the drugs he sells. That was a cool song. I also wrote a song about an abusive relationship, about a toxic relationship with your parents, and a song about loss. I ended up producing the song about an abusive relationship, which was tough.
The experience overall was great. Having prior knowledge from Mr. Noble’s class was good. We actually had to write and perform our own songs last year, and though I was proud of the song I made, I knew I wanted to improve and that's exactly what I did by pursuing this project.
It was really rewarding to see everything come together in Ableton, but even before that, it was rewarding to feel myself gaining more confidence.
What are some of the more interesting discoveries you made while working on your project?
I think the biggest surprise, for me, was how much confidence I got from working on my project. I thought I was good at music – that’s why I picked this project to begin with – but I feel so much more confident now after practicing my songwriting and learning how to use Ableton, the production software I chose.
I also realized I tend to catastrophize a little. Whenever something went wrong and I couldn’t troubleshoot it within the first 20 minutes I’d lose it a little. I learned I need to overcome that and centre myself a little, maybe not go from zero to one hundred. I’m still learning, but I’ve been practicing some grounding techniques and self-management. Like, okay, it’s going to be okay…
What was the highlight of your personal project?
I think one of the highpoints was definitely – actually, well, I have two – but the interview was definitely one. The interview with the researcher gave me a new outlook on my project and I felt reenergized. The other highpoint was when I got my first model done and I had to review it over and over again. It was then that I had my foundation and could engage with the design process much more consistently.
What’s next? Where does your project go from here?
I’m definitely going to keep songwriting. It’s become a bit of a pattern for me, something therapeutic I can do. I sit down with my guitar or my ukulele and just mess around until I find something that sounds nice, and write some lryics to accompany it. Production-wise, there’s a lot more I want to learn. I have a loose goal of actually writing and producing and putting it up on Spotify.