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In-Depth Post #6: Going for It

Here is my final In-depth post – ever! (At least I think it is, but I also said that last post too 😉)

Over the last few weeks, it’s been hard finding time to practice singing, but that’s definitely not because I don’t have enough skills to work on! I met with my mentor Margo twice, and we once again covered a wide breadth of topics and exercises that I could go home and work on. First of all, we continued to sharpen and improve my breath support. She reinforced the fact that the breath is connected to nearly everything else in a well-developed voice. This week, Margo encouraged me to energize my voice with more support BEFORE I ever jumped to a high note (like exercise 1). This would help engage my upper abdomen area, and help me strain and ‘reach’ for high notes less often. She also asked me to sing louder on my exercises, because singing quietly is actually not a natural skill – but singing loudly is! It helps magnify what problems a singer has, and encourages better breath support. We also focused on my vowel shape, and making sure I continued to form vowels farther forward in my mouth, and used my tongue to make the vowels.

As for actual repertoire I was learning, I sang Concone #2 for Margo, and we worked on improving my phrasing and incorporating quiet notes (see above) to create a more varied and interesting interpretation. However, I had to make sure that even though I was singing quietly, I had to keep the intensity of my breath support, and not collapse in my chest area. This also applied to larger leaps (4th or more), because I needed to keep my breath support for the low notes in addition to the high notes. We finished off both of our lessons with Silent Noon, which I am still working on! We started to work on the musical aspect of the song, i.e. finding different emotions in different verses and phrases, while still keeping my vowel shape, enunciating clearly, and having proper breath support.


At home, the major struggles I encountered were mostly concerning consistently following what Margo asked me to think about. Sometimes, when practicing is difficult, it’s much more tempting to stop self-policing myself and revert to the bad habits that I’ve had ever since I started to informally sing as a kid. I know that this is wrong – and the way I’ve tried to combat this problem is by focusing on quality over quantity (this has helped with my piano practice too). By slowing the exercises/pieces down and making sure that I am aware of all the moving parts of my voice (breath, intonation, vowel formation, etc.), I can progress way faster than if I was just rushing through my exercises several times without paying serious thought to what I was singing. As for positives, I’ve definitely heard progress in my voice in all facets, particularly making sure that my voice is in tune.

Recently, I have been investigating my In-depth Contract (written in January) and comparing my goals to my progress. First of all, I have clearly met four of five of my objects (proper breath support, tuning, phrasing, and diction), but obviously only to the extent that one can learn these skills in four months – they are so difficult to learn and master!! The only skill that I haven’t focused on is ‘stage presence (maintaining proper tuning/breathing on stage)’, which I will discuss in the final paragraph of this post.

I also thought that I’d answer (briefly) some questions that I asked myself in the same In-depth Contract:

  1. How important is proper breathing technique to developing a voice with better tone?

SO IMPORTANT!!!!! Breathing is the biggest reason why any voice sounds good, because by properly freeing our throat up so that we don’t have to stretch for high notes, our tone will inevitably improve.

  1. What are some ways that I can properly and easily sing in tune?

First, by focusing on my breath support. Next, by making sure my vowel formation is near the front of my mouth and I am properly resonating.

  1. What are some of the difficulties of playing different notes on the piano than what I am singing?

I have not encountered this yet, because of the difficulty of the songs Margo has been me. As a result, I have only been singing with an instrumental version. I imagine, though, that the more confident I am in the notes I am singing, the easier it will be to play the piano at the same time.

  1. Is my vocal range confined to a specific range for the duration of this project, or will I be able to extend it further?

So far, I haven’t been able to extend my vocal range, but by regularly practicing my exercises, I have become more comfortable in the extreme ends of my vocal range.

  1. What is the difference between projecting and shouting?

Very different! Projecting uses proper breath support and shouldn’t place any stress on the throat, while shouting and singing uses no support, and doesn’t sound good at all (trust me – I’ve done it).

  1. How important is vibrato to a strong singing performance?

Pretty important – as a secondary skill, though. Vibrato is natural for a singer, but breath support should always be a priority.


Finally, I reviewed the “expert” section of my evaluation plan in the Contract, and, well, I seem to be meeting everything so far!

“I accomplish/learn all of the skills I outlined in the “Objectives” section of this proposal, and to an excellent and noticeable standard by my mentor and experts in the field. All facets of my singing technique have definitely improved. When I meet problems, I have taken note of them and tried to confront them with help from adults and my mentor. My blog posts are introspective, honest, and a very good indication of my progress throughout the project. Most of my blog posts are accompanied by a recording of myself singing. My final performance is excellent and very successful, as I have spent multiple hours preparing for it.” – In-depth Contract

Despite stating in January that I wanted to perform for my final presentation, my mentor and I decided that 1.5 minutes was simply too little time to show my skills. Instead, by utilizing the recordings I made throughout the stages of my project and the final recording (which I will finish in a few weeks with my sister at the piano) of Silent Noon, I will make a progress video that will still fall within the allotted timeframe. Therefore, because I am not performing live, I will not need to work as much on the “stage presence” objective.


“Singing is hard. But so is life. The difference? Singing’s worth it.”

  • Anonymous


INS Check-In: If the Medium is the Message, than the Content is its Audience!?!??!!?

  1. “Perhaps more fundamentally, McLuhan felt that his upbringing on the prairies provided him with a kind of natural “counter-environment” to the great centers of civilization. He felt he had the advantage that any bright outsider brings with him from the boondocks when he comes to the big city: a freshness of outlook that often enables him to see overall patterns missed by the inhabitants who have been molded by those patterns. It was the advantage that he felt accrued to Canadians in general vis-à-vis the United States and Europe.” (9)

I felt intrigued by the idea that McLuhan suggested – that those on the outside have a better understanding of the inside than those in the inner circle themselves. My first response is that I agree with McLuhan, especially in context of my recent trips to Toronto. Being someone from the West Coast, it was jarring to visit such a vibrant and intimidating city. Since Toronto residents were obviously wrapped up in their own business, it was easy for me to assume the mindset of an observer. Also, I think that for one to experience the same state of detachment from his/her new surroundings, their current environment must be vastly different than their upbringing, as the author suggested by “from the boondocks when he comes to the big city”. For example, if I left a group project in Leadership class because I felt like the environment was not right for me, and then entered another group with similar problems, I wouldn’t be able to fully comment on the new group’s dynamics and progress, because I would be wrapped up in the same vortex of issues that I had in the first group.

At the time of the publication of The Medium and the Messenger, which was 1990, Canadians were dealing with several important issues that would shape the nation for years to come – the Meech Lake Accord, a free trade deal that some saw as moving Canada towards ‘post-nationalism’, Quebec separatism, and tighter laws on social issues such as abortion, sexual assault, and gun control. A certain sense of fate was pervading through Ottawa and its politicians, that a giant hand was pushing these deals to a breaking point. Perhaps what might have resonated with readers at the time was McLuhan’s soft encouragement for citizens to take a deep breath, and evaluate national issues with a sense of detachment. Today, I believe that it has become much easier for Canadians to express their views on places different than their own; commercial travel is cheaper, safer, and more accessible than ever before, and social media provides a platform for residents from opposite sides of the country to interact.

  1. “McLuhan extended the insight to mean that the content of any medium or technology is its user. He would counter the demands of Canadian nationalists for more ‘Canadian content’ on Canadian television, for example, by pointing out that a show such as ‘Bonanza’ became Canadian content the moment it was viewed by Canadians.” (39)

This passage was probably the most eye-opening statement of the first few chapters that I read. McLuhan is essentially stating that when viewers/readers interpret a work, they are basically creating as much of the work as the so-called ‘author’. I disagree with McLuhan, because the creator-viewer-equality outlook places far too much responsibility on the viewer, and gives far too little credit on the actual creator. To suggest that the reader of a book, whose job often consists of reading a text and not doing too much more (unless they are further investigating it for some purpose), is doing as much work as the author of that book, who spent years of research and labour, is not fair at all. I personally believe that the moment a book is published, it is a finished work. Until the book is updated and revised, it is in a stagnant form. In the past, I have found this to be true – for example, when I got to know the author of a biography I loved (Wondrous Strange: The Life and Art of Glenn Gould), I came to understand that it was his ideas that permeated the book, not my own.

The ‘CanCon’ (or, Canadian content) debate introduced above has been an engaging topic for Canadians in the past 50 years or so. At the time of McLuhan’s career, it was nearly impossible for a Canadian artist to establish a career anywhere other than the United States, and because of that, radio stations were almost exclusively playing American music. Even in the 1990’s, when this book was published, artists from Canada were being overshadowed by American musicians and actors. Today, most critics are not supportive of Cancon, and the younger generation might not even care what country a TV show was made in. In a Huffington Post article, Michael Hennessy, president of the Canadian Media Producers Association, stated that “You like to see bits of Canada reflected but you’ve got to like the show,” he said. “Nobody wants to watch a show just because it’s Canadian.”

  1. “He felt toward the city of Toronto much the same way he felt toward the University of Toronto – it was an irritant that removed any temptation to complacency. In Toronto, McLuhan felt, culture was considered to be ‘basically an unpleasant moral duty.’ The locals made up for their sense of being outside any important intellectual by maintaining a kind of surly dogmatism.” (101)

Wow! I couldn’t have been more provoked by this quote, as having visited Toronto twice in the last year, nothing could be farther from the truth. Speaking from my own experience, Toronto is a very vibrant, progress-oriented city, more so than Vancouver. I constantly saw construction of new buildings, additions to subway lines, and advertised events that marketed Toronto as ‘the place to be’ in Canada. Culture is not only accepted in Toronto, but also advocated for – last month, I visited a Chinatown, Old Downtown, Little Italy, Little Portugal, and Koreatown in the space of two days. In terms of the University of Toronto, I also saw a strong push for continuous improvement on their own advertising banners – for example, there were questions asking, “What if we could detect cancer in 20 minutes?”, or “What if your heartbeat was your password?”, and then stating that the university was searching for answers to the question.

In the 1990’s, Toronto was quickly developing into the cultural metropolis that we call it today. Most Torontonians who read the quote listed above must have been appalled, since advertisers and tourist companies were using Toronto’s multiculturalism and diversity as a selling point. Check out this website below:

Today, Toronto is considered the most multicultural city in the world (according to the BBC), and the University of Toronto is among the best in Canada. This might be a reflection of the current value of many Canadians that it’s important to spread openness to immigrants from other nations.

  1. “A change in the type of medium implies a change in the types of appraisal and hence makes it difficult for one civilization to understand another.” (121)

This quote was very revelatory for me, because it was easy to comprehend, but also made a lot of sense. Since different civilizations had different ways of communicating with each other, what they communicated to each other was different than what another society communicated. This ties back to McLuhan’s most famous quote: “the medium is the message”. When the medium changes (ex. from spoken word to writing), so does the message (there might be a stronger focus on detail over feeling, and writing is more precise and can be passed down easier). Personally, I connected this quote to when I research for primary source evidence. For me, it is inherently harder to interpret primary source evidence, because the mediums of past eras like letters or radio speeches are a completely different form of communication than what I am used to. Letters might have more flowery language than today’s communication, and radio speeches are more dry and direct without visual aids.

The quote would have resonated with Canadians reading the book in the years after it was published, as the World-Wide-Web was entering prominence in the 1990’s. Since technology was making information easier to access, that meant that the information itself might have been changing too. For example, websites such as online encyclopedias would have offered more updated information, which would help Canadians become educated on current events. In today’s society, we are seeing another change in how we communicate with each other – through text messaging, we can send anyone anything, from short, terse prose communicating a deadline, to a long essay. This quote then reveals that as Canadians, our values regarding communication are constantly shifting, as the technology used to transmit thoughts continues to develop.

  1. “‘Canadians are all a very humble bunch […] they take it for granted that everything they do must be second rate. I just blithely assumed that, since nearly everything in the world is second rate at best, there was no reason why we couldn’t do something that was first rate right here.’” (128)

I found this quote particularly interesting because I agree with it so much! From my personal experience, Canadians seem to be less assertive than residents of other countries, such as America. In public, I personally default to saying “sorry”, even when strangers bump into me. This might also be why more aspirational Canadians tend to go to America to start their careers. Because of this, I admire McLuhan’s nationalism. For my 1st Document of Learning, I investigated the effect of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics on the Canadian psyche. Canadians made explicit efforts to be more confident, from openly expressing their pride on the streets in Vancouver, to blatantly stating that the country wanted to win the most medals in Vancouver. Even though Canada finished 3rd in the medal ranking, polls still showed the citizens felt a boost of patriotic pride (see my DOL for more information!).

As one can see in the various actions taken by the Canadian government and public in the 1990’s, Canadians were trying to take ownership over defining who they were. This includes the Meech Lake Accord, a free trade deal that some saw as moving Canada towards ‘post-nationalism’, Quebec separatism, and tighter laws on social issues such as abortion, sexual assault, and gun control. Later, in terms of gay marriage rights, Canada was seen by other countries as a pioneer. Today, Canadians are still becoming more passionate about their own issues, such as Murdered/Missing Indigenous Women. Our values have shifted towards having stronger convictions and opinions of what our country should look like.

Thematic statement: It is impossible for one to rely on others to ‘spoon-feed’ their education and learning process; learning is an independent journey that the learner themself must directly initiate.

Marshall McLuhan was always a very passionate learner that initiated his own learning; he read around 35 books a week even when he was a professor at the University of Toronto. Also, when he was obtaining his education, he always took efforts to introduce himself to future mentors and friends, such as F.R. Leavis and Ezra Pound. This hunger for knowledge is what led him to his discovery of the field of communications, which obviously resulted in a long and prosperous career. What I take from this is that if I want to learn and improve in a given area, I cannot wait for teachers to tell me what to do, but take initiative of my own learning and ask them for more specific knowledge that I want to learn. This will not only serve me well in my general education, but also in my future career.


Canada’s Faithful Servant: A Case for John A. Macdonald

Mr. Morris


April 17, 2018

Canada’s Faithful Servant: A Case for Sir John A. Macdonald

Most Canadians possess a spotty knowledge of their founders; a 2015 Ipsos-Reid survey reported that just 28% of respondents knew that Confederation occurred in 1867 (Postmedia). However, citizens have recently started to reconsider historical figures, as the controversial decisions of past governments continue to resurface. Most notably, in 2017, various groups called for the removal of Sir John A. Macdonald’s name and figure from public institutions. Proponents of the movement stated that Macdonald’s bigoted actions towards Indigenous and Chinese peoples did not merit positive recognition, while those who disagreed believed that Macdonald’s accomplishments as Canada’s ‘Founding Father’ and first Prime Minister outweighed his negative decisions (Jago). Due to his bold economic tariff policy that established Canada as an independent country, and his championship of the highly successful Canadian Pacific Railway project, Macdonald’s name and likeness should stay in the public sphere.

Without Macdonald’s protectionist economic ideas that steered the young nation clear of the United States, Canada would not exist today. The ‘National Policy’ program enacted by Macdonald in 1879 imposed astronomically high tariffs on cross-border trade in hopes of moving Canada towards “true nationhood by giving its citizens reasons to buy and sell from each other” (Gwyn). Tariffs are essentially taxes that importers or exporters must pay for trading their commodities internationally (Brown). Since American manufacturing companies started to compete with Canadian companies for business in the 1870’s, many Canadians expressed concern that lower tariffs would lead to unregulated trade between Canada and the United States, and eventually, political union (Gwyn). Macdonald’s strongly protectionist actions ensured that Canadian citizens received more goods from Canadian manufacturers. This not only improved the economy in terms of employment and profit, but also boosted national morale. Therefore, since Macdonald’s implementation of higher tariffs strengthened Canada’s economic and social conditions at a time of turmoil, public institutions should honour him as someone who placed Canadian interests at the forefront of his policies.

On the contrary, experts in support of Macdonald’s removal from the public sphere claim that his choice to bring in mass numbers of Chinese immigrants to help build the Canadian Pacific Railway was derogatory, because he treated them as commodities that were low-maintenance and cheap (“Chinese Canadian Stories”). However, his choice to bring in Chinese workers was part of a larger vision that believed in the CPR’s potential to positively change Canada by influencing the development of its cities, and also by churning out huge financial benefits. His ambition, was to create a railway that would “build up Montreal, Quebec, Toronto, Halifax and Saint John by means of one great Canadian line, carrying as much traffic as possible by the course of trade through our own country” (NLC). He understood that such a gigantic railway – 4700 kilometers long – would link together a geographically, economically, and socially divided country. Because of the CPR, residents no longer needed to stay in one area for their entire life; trains made vacations and province-to-province immigration a possibility for all, which increased diversity in cities. The railway also fulfilled Macdonald’s dream of boosting Toronto, Montreal, and other cities into fully-fledged metropolises through the creation of railway-affiliated hotels, transportation of more tourists, and an increased flow of resources. Economically, the CPR dominated the Canadian transportation sector for nearly half of the 20th century, moving travellers as well as important goods across Canada. Today, thousands of passenger and freight trains still operate on the CPR every year, generating billions of dollars of revenue (“Rail Transportation”). Even 125 years since the CPR’s inception, Canada’s citizens, cities, and economy can still feel the positive effects of Macdonald’s ambitious vision to build a transformative railway.

In 2017, possibly in response to raised awareness about the Canadian government’s role in assimilating Indigenous and Chinese peoples, the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario voted to support the motion to remove Sir John A. Macdonald’s name from public schools, while opponents stated that he “helped build a fantastic and prosperous country” (Nasser). When one considers Macdonald’s determined support of the Canadian economy, along with his idealistic ambitions to complete a railway that unified Canada, it becomes clear that he is a historical figure who should remain in the public eye. Ultimately, by raising conversations about who we consider as ‘heroes’, we can discover that although some values change over time, certain universal actions still resonate with us today regardless of morals or circumstance. In that case, without the leadership of Sir John A. Macdonald, we would have no common Canadian identity to unify behind, no economic interests to support, and most importantly, no Canada to call home.


Works Cited:

Brown, Robert. “National Policy”. The Canadian Encyclopedia, 2006, Accessed 17 Apr 2018.

“Chinese Canadian Stories”. Ccs.Library.Ubc.Ca, 2006, Accessed 17 Apr 2018.

Postmedia. “One In Four Canadians Can’t Name Country’s First Prime Minister: Poll”. National Post, 2015, Accessed 17 Apr 2018.

Jago, Robert. “Sir John A. Doesn’t Need A School To Be Remembered. He Lives On In Indigenous Pain”. The Globe And Mail, 2017, Accessed 17 Apr 2018.

Nasser, Shanifa. “Ontario Teachers’ Union Wants Sir John A. Macdonald’s Name Stripped From Public Schools | CBC News”. CBC, 2017, Accessed 17 Apr 2018.

“Rail Transportation.” Transport Canada, 2011,

National Library of Canada. “ARCHIVED – Macdonald-Speeches-House Of Commons, Jan. 17, 1881-First Among Equals”. Nlc-Bnc.Ca, 2001, Accessed 17 Apr 2018.


DOL 2: John A. Macdonald

Inquiry Question: To what extent were John A. Macdonald’s social policies and views on minorities considered progressive or conservative for his time?


Historical Significance:

In the past few years, various activists in the United States have called to remove statues of those who supported slavery and racism to be removed from public areas. Canada, while not being a nation steeped in bondage, has not entirely escaped the conversation either. The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Toronto recently passed a resolution that encouraged school boards in Ontario to remove the name of Canada’s first Prime Minister, Sir John A. Macdonald, from its schools (there are currently around a dozen with Macdonald as its namesake). A teacher stated that Macdonald played a “central role as the architect of, really, what was genocide of Indigenous peoples on Turtle Island.”[1] Historians widely credit Macdonald, who was Superintendent General of Indian Affairs for ten years and thought of Indigenous people as “savages”[2], with creating the horrific Residential School system. However, was he the sole reason for why Indigenous people and other minorities such as Chinese immigrants and women were heavily marginalized for decades, or were his ideas and policies simply a reflection of the zeitgeist of his time?

Image result for john a macdonald secondary,_SJM,_Horwath_011___Super_Portrait.jpg

This question is an extremely important one to ask right now, not only because of the aforementioned situation currently ongoing in the United States and the fact that we need to reconsider our own ‘founding fathers’ and their ideas and beliefs. More importantly, it is important to distinguish whether Macdonald was actually the “real architect of residential schools”[4], as a Toronto Star article declared, and heavily pushed forward his agenda of Indigenous assimilation against parliamentary opposition. More often than not, the policies from decades ago that we find racist today were simply a reflection of what all (or at least the vast majority) of the people from a specific demographic wanted. Simply scapegoating Macdonald blindly overlooks the fact that he was a man who loved to conform to others to keep himself in power, even saying that a leader must “must yield to the times.”[5] We can also expose other public figures that are supposedly ‘clean’, but also turn out to be heavily prejudiced.


In Queen’s Park, Toronto.


Cause and Consequence:

I researched five major events that helped reveal some wisdom about my inquiry question. They are (in no particular order): Macdonald’s proposed legislation to allow widowed and unmarried women to vote, his role in denying Chinese-Canadians from voting, Macdonald’s proposed legislation to allow some ‘Indians’ to vote, the creation of Residential Schools, and the systematic starvation of Indigenous people in central Canada to make way for the building of the CPR.

First of all, women were still treated as inferior in Canada in the 1870’s, and would continue to be for decades under the law until the famous ‘Persons’ case in the 1920’s. According to author Richard Gwyn, the thought of women voting at the time was unheard of and thought to be a pipe dream even among the most passionate suffragettes. This made Macdonald’s sudden proposed legislation of extending the voting franchise to women in 1885 very shocking in the House of Commons. There is little to suggest that Macdonald had supported women voting before his proposal, even though he said in debate that “… with respect to female suffrage, I can only say that, personally, I am strongly convinced, and every year for many years I have been more strongly convinced, of the justice of giving women otherwise qualified [owning sufficient property, as was then the standard requirement] the suffrage.”[6] As was expected, his idea was shot down. Nearly all Quebec MPs voted against it, as did 3 in 4 of Macdonald’s own party. The issue was not raised again for more than 25 years, and Macdonald’s surprising call for equality is forgotten in comparison to Nellie McClung and the Famous Five’s successful campaigns for women’s voting rights.

Although seemingly unconnected from other events discussed, Macdonald’s proposition that allowed some women to vote occurred at the same time that he was making bigoted claims about Chinese-Canadian immigrants. It was Macdonald that supported bringing Chinese workers to help build the CPR a few years ago, and many Chinese labourers who survived the tortuous conditions settled in various areas of British Columbia. They were heavily discriminated against, and groups such as the Anti-Chinese Association were formed. Therefore, Macdonald’s motion of anyone of Chinese heritage not being allowed to vote was a reflection of the ideas of many racist white Canadians at the time. The legislation passed with majority support from the House of Commons. As a result, racists denigrated Chinese-Canadians even more, and the prejudice helped introduce the Chinese Head Tax in 1885, which commanded Chinese immigrants to pay a sum in order to enter Canada.

In the same encompassing Electoral Franchise Act, Macdonald secured a small piece of progress for Indigenous Canadians at the time. He successfully advocated another seemingly revolutionary piece of legislation: that Indigenous men, who lived on reserve and owned land that had seen more than $150 of personal improvement, should be allowed to vote. This select group of men would not have to give up their ‘Indian’ status to vote, as was previously the case. In context of his other actions conducted at this time, this proposal seemed strange, and some historians believe that Macdonald thought he would have had more votes from the Indigenous people that could now vote. In the prevalent British culture at the time, Indigenous people were seen as ‘half-breeds’ and ‘savages’ who had murdered Canadians such as Thomas Scott in the Red River and Northwest Rebellions. Being the Superintendent General of Indian Affairs, Macdonald introduced the Residential Schools system with support from other ministers including Hector-Louis Langevin. He also strongly supported denying Indigenous Canadians living in central Canada of food in order to clear them out of the planned CPR line. This resulted in the deaths of thousands, an increase in disease, and migration of groups away from their homes. The Residential Schools also culturally assimilated more than 150,000 Indigenous children for around 100 years, in what is now termed ‘cultural genocide’. Even today, widespread inequality between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canadians can be directly credited to Macdonald’s acts.

Image result for john a macdonald house of commons


Ethical Judgment:

Macdonald’s assertion that “I had hoped that Canada would have the honour of first placing women in the position she is certain, eventually, after centuries of oppression, to obtain…of completely establishing her equality as a human being and as a member of society with man”[7] can be definitely be seen as progressive for his time. Even granting a select demographic of women that could vote was extremely forward-thinking, especially since Canada could have been one of the first countries to allow women to vote had the legislation passed. Today, all women in Canada are allowed to vote, but Macdonald also spoke of “equality as a human being […] with man”, a thought that resonates with us. The wage gap in Canada between women and men is still at least 15 percent, according to StatsCan.

Image result for canada electoral franchise act

On the subject of Chinese immigrants, Macdonald claimed that “if [the Chinese] came in great numbers and settled on the Pacific coast they might control the vote of that whole Province, and they would send Chinese representative to sit here, who would represent Chinese eccentricities, Chinese immorality […] which are abhorrent to the Aryan race and Aryan principles, on this House.”[8] Even among the rampant racists of the time, Macdonald was the only parliamentarian to use the word ‘Aryan’ to describe British-Canadians, according to history professor Timothy Stanley. These comments would make him more of a radical then, say, his Liberal opposition, but the act still passed with majority support from the House of Commons. Also, it was the Liberal Prime Minister Wilfrid Laurier who raised the Chinese Head Tax in 1895 to an obscene $500. The tax was abolished decades later, and all citizens of Canada regardless of heritage could vote. From today’s perspective, the comments are not only bigoteds, but also invoke scary connections to Adolf Hitler’s rhetoric against Jews.

Madonald’s actions against Indigenous people weren’t out of place with the views of other cabinet ministers and political figures of the time. His proposal to allow some Indigenous males to vote was an exception, and was revoked by Laurier’s government in 1898. As for Residential Schools, according to Sean Carleton, a historian, “Macdonald dreamed of creating an organized system of federal schools for Indigenous children that could be used to disrupt Indigenous lifeways and control over the land to accelerate successful settler colonialism.”[9] While this was absolutely true, similar schools were also being built in America at the same time. Nicholas Davin, who wrote a report investigating the American schools, wanted to help solve Canada’s “Indian problem”[10]. Hector-Louis Langevin declared that “the fact is if you wish to educate these children you must separate them from their parents during the time that they are being educated. If you leave them in the family they may know how to read and write, but they still remain savages.”[11] Of course, we must admit that Macdonald’s actions directly led to the traumatization and deaths of thousands of Indigenous children. His choice to starve thousands of Indigenous people in Saskatchewan was not only against treaty law, but forced people to leave their homes of hundreds of years. Today, Indigenous Canadians have an unemployment rate more than two times the national average, an incarceration rate ten times the national rate, and a life expectancy almost ten years less than non-Indigenous Canadians.

We also need to consider Macdonald’s statements were not always completely accurate. He was notorious for being a wishy-washy leader, and frequently flipped sides on issues as soon as he saw that he could win more public support from switching. Examples include on ‘responsible government’ and representation by population. Therefore, it is possible that some of his racist statements against Chinese Canadians and Indigenous people might not have fully reflected his own opinions.

Image result for cpr land indigenous


Social Studies Inquiry Process:

The first conclusion I drew from my research is, above all, that many of Macdonald’s actions towards minority groups were racist and even genocidal. Even in a time where his ideas were widely supported, I believe that people in positions of power hold the responsibility to all of their people, especially Macdonald because he was the first leader of a newly created country. To openly support the cleansing of an entire demographic cannot be defended. As the title of a Globe and Mail opinion piece said, “Sir John A. doesn’t need a school to be remembered. He lives on in Indigenous pain.” [12]

Even after such a clear verdict that Macdonald played an instrumental role in creating terrifying living conditions for Indigenous and Chinese people in Canada, we must take a step back and realize that Macdonald – no matter how racist – was a man of his time. This is the second conclusion I drew from my research: actions are inexcusable, but so are the conditions under which they are made. I make a connection from this topic to that of my eminent person, Dmitri Shostakovich. Many call him an anti-Stalinist dissident, but that is simply not true – he openly condemned anti-Soviet composers and writers. He did so to survive, and perhaps that is a little egotistical. However, the fact still remains that speaking out against heavily regimented norms is incredibly difficult and not without intense repercussions. In our time today where a public platform to state all of our opinions is nothing than a click away, we sometimes lose perspective on how hard it was to go against the status quo. John A. Macdonald was a racist, but so were the near-anonymity of white people who lived in Canada. Therefore, in considering his more positive actions as well, in which he was clearly ahead of his time, such as achieving Confederation, and building the CPR, I believe that his name should remain on several schools in Ontario.

Mr. Macdonald could have been a leader that supported equality for all. Hoping for a 19th century leader like that is nothing more than wishful thinking.





[3] I chose to include women as a minority in this investigation because, while women comprise of half the human population, a power imbalance between genders was prevalent in Macdonald’s time, and still is today.







[10] Same as above.

[11] Same as above.





In-Depth Post #5: This is It!

Since my last in-depth post (nearly a month ago), I’ve been busy at work singing. I met with Margo on the last weekend before spring break, and we shifted our focus away from breathing and proper support, because I was feeling more comfortable with it. My main goal of the session was to learn intonation and how to sound vowels the right way. First of all, we added a new spin to the second exercise I’ve been practicing for more than two months. Instead of singing “lo-la-lo-la-lo”, I am now singing “la-li-la-li-la”. This is because I was having trouble forming my “o” vowel, and sounding it too far back in my mouth. This would create less resonance, and also affect my tuning in a negative way. In contrast, my “a” vowel sounds much better, because I naturally form it further forward in my mouth. Margo repeatedly stressed to me that the tongue makes vowels, not my mouth, and I needed to keep my “o” vowel further forward in my mouth, around the roof area (hard palette). She asked me to experiment with forming my “o” sounds, suggesting that I find the position where I can resonate “a” well, and then keeping that same position for my “o” vowel. So far, it has been working very well for me in practice. Also, for the first exercise, we went back to sliding 5ths, and Margo suggested to me that I should focus more on my slide mid-range, and also that I need to keep my “a” vowel at the end of the phrase, rather than shifting my mouth position and relaxing. Finally, she asked me to also sing “ma-o” for the first exercise, so that I could practice keeping the same vowel shape from “a” to “o”. The last work we did was on “Silent Noon”. Similarly to the exercises, she really wanted me to articulate my vowels and every syllable. Then, by articulating and keeping a proper vowel position, I could resonate more. She also made a small (but important) change in the music: the “e” vowel. Since the composer of “Silent Noon”, Ralph Vaughan Williams, was an British composer, he would have intended all the “er” vowels to be pronounced as “e”. Therefore, “scatter” would become “scatteh”, “fingerpoints” would “fingehpoints”, and so on.


I asked Margo to send me a few practice studies that I could work on in my spare time over spring break, so she sent me a few exercises that I could use the “e” or “a” vowel instead of words. Below is a recording of the 2nd exercise, performed by me (with the accompaniment from a Youtube video).

At home, I’ve definitely seen and heard big improvement on m vowel shape, although “o” is still tricky to nail all the time. I am finding that the exercise where I create a resonant “a”vowel”, then keep that mouth position while switching to “o”, is very helpful.

I am also starting to prepare for my presentation at in-depth night! I recorded the first version of “Silent Noon” a few months ago, and recorded another version today that is below. I plan to make one more “in-progress” recording before I formally record the piece. I actually recorded an instrumental accompaniment version with myself at the piano so I wouldn’t have to play as I sing. For the real recording, I plan on asking my sister to accompany me. Listening to this recording, I’ve definitely improved my intonation in some places, but I still need to work on consistently resonating every vowel. Also, my breath support is faltering in some very long phrases.

Below are my responses to Ms. Mulder’s questions:

  1. Margo allows me to choose my own music, which I usually don’t do for piano, This helps me pay close attention to the details of the music (range, ‘busy-ness’ of notes, etc.), and helps me choose a piece I’m more passionate about. Also she asks me to record myself singing as much as possible, so I can give myself feedback. Finally, she suggests that I practice in front of a mirror, I can look closely at my singing form.
  2. First of all, I have been practicing my exercises for more than two months, which helps me hammer in any new concepts Margo has taught me. Also, she encourages me to record our full lessons, so I can listen after and take notes, and then apply it to my singing.
  3. At the end of of our last lesson, Margo gave me (upon my request) a set of etudes that I can learn at my own pace, so I can accelerate my learning providing that I have enough time. Also, the more I practice and repeat my exercises, the more that my progress can increase.
  4. We have now developed a very clear routine as to what occurs in our meetings. First, Margo asks me if I have any questions, and then answers them. Next, we work on a few or all of my exercises. Then, I sing a section of “Silent Noon” and she gives me feedback and we work on the piece.
  5. Margo is giving me very honest feedback, and gives me clear instructions that let me know exactly how I should practice at home. Next, I’m asking very advanced questions about difficult singing concepts, which helps her give me detailed answers and improves my own singing. Finally our communication outside of meetings is very quick and clear.
  6. We are definitely learning a lot about each other’s learning and teaching habits. For example, we both know that we are very efficient at completing tasks, and don’t like to chat too much during lessons. We are also learning about one another’s personalities. I know that Margo is very extroverted and confident, and she has learned that I am dedicated and passionate about learning.

Aprilmayjune, HERE WE GO!!

Am I afraid of high notes? Of course I am afraid. What sane man is not?
-Luciano Pavoratti