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'Breathe in. Breathe out.' - Western Reserve University Pre-Professionals Scholars

lklklk124 4 / 7 1  
Nov 4, 2012   #1
It's kinda long because the prompt requires about 1000 words and I apologize. After skimming it, could you tell me how it flows and if there are any glaring problems or something that kinda annoys you? Thanks! :))))

Describe an event, achievement, or experience of which you are particularly proud but that will not show up on a resume, may not garner any recognition, and does not appear anywhere else on your admission application. This essay should not exceed 1,000 words in length.

Breathe in. Breathe out. I open my eyes and see the grand piano that I would be sitting at only moments later. From beyond the curtains, a thousand, no two thousand or maybe even a million pairs of eyes were searching the stage, waiting for the next performer. As I blankly read and reread the sheet music of the Chopin Scherzo No.1 that the audience will enjoy later, I distinctly remembered how nonchalantly I agreed to participate in the student recital at the Grand Theatre in AhCheng a month prior and the slight excitement at the thought that I would also receive a small sliver of fame. But it was much too dangerous for any regrets or doubts to bar me from a rewarding debut and the knowledge that I had successfully entertained a couple thousand people. Breathe in. Breathe out.

It was a swelteringly hot summer in 2008 and besides the Beijing Olympics and the $100 million dollar opening ceremony, there was little to look forward to. Naturally, when my piano teacher, Professor Ding, contacted me a few weeks prior to the end of school about an opportunity to go on an "extremely rewarding piano tour of major Chinese cities," I jumped on the opportunity and the plane to China. It seemed like an almost impossibly opportune event to both do something that I enjoyed immensely as well as visit the extended family that I had not seen since I emigrated from China about 10 years prior. At the time, I was brimming with confidence after a string of successful recitals at the local church as well as a paid, two-hour recital at the senior community where my mother works. Piano was for me not only a paying profession, it seemed, but also a way for me to connect to a whole different community. Much as a comic artist belongs at Comic Con or a collector belongs at an auction, I felt like I belonged in the piano community, consistently partaking in group recitals and solo recitals and sharing my interpretation of music while receiving criticism and praise that will help me improve.

And yet, a nagging persistent doubt plagued my mind that rotted the foundations of my self-confidence. Just before every performance, this doubt would suddenly enter my mind and infect every positive thought that I could muster. The old "what if" statement would be attached to every confident phrase and just performing pieces I had perfected for months seemed like a Herculean task. Sometimes, it was so severe that it would make me doubt the sanity of my decision to step onto the stage. What gives me the right to force everyone else to listen to music that an amateur created? What was my interpretation worth?

Breathe in. Breathe out. My mind goes strangely blank as all of the details and nuances that I had prepared beforehand tumbled out of my conscience, leaving a stretch of blank canvas, waiting to be painted. As I hear the announcer speak my name and the piece was going to perform, my legs lifted obediently and stepped onto the platform that would be my joy and my prison for the next 10 minutes. As I sat down on the leather bench, adjusting the height and checking the pedals, waiting for the buzz and murmur of the crowd to die down, I began to reflect on all of the work that I had done in preparation for the ten minutes I had earned on stage. The light was bright and my eyes were not quite adjusted. There was cold sweat on my clammy hands and collar on my shirt seemed to be a noose, waiting to tighten around its victim. I look up at the ceiling, and then the piano and I proceeded to show the fellow music-lovers the effort and broken strings that went into building my own interpretation.

When I synchronize with the piece that I am playing, it seems as if I have no power over my fingers and body. They move as they have been taught to move and at times glide across the keyboard with a determined eloquence and at times viciously attack the keyboard with fierce staccatos and triple fortes. Many do not realize why pianists must spend hours upon hours at the keyboard, repeatedly playing the same pieces a couple hundred times. It is difficult for people not familiar with music to imagine how difficult yet rewarding it is to create a personal interpretation. Yet as my fingers left the last note while the damper pedal kept it resonating throughout the theatre, I felt that I had successfully communicated that message to the appreciative audience. Not only did I achieve what I came for, I also felt that doubt that was gnawing at my confidence slowly diminish and vanish with a drawn-out scream. I had worried that my music was not adequate to be presented to the public. But when I saw some members of the audience stand up and shout words of encouragement, I realized that as long as my music satisfies someone other than myself, it was worth the effort to try and connect with them by offering my own interpretation and receiving their approval in return.

Thank you Thank you THANK YOU!
AzizZ 2 / 24 1  
Nov 23, 2012   #2
Breathe in. Breathe out. I open my eyes and see the grand piano that I would be sitting at moments later. From beyond the curtains, a thousand,two thousand or maybe even a million pairs of eyes were searching the stage, waiting for the next performer
3psilon 1 / 2  
Nov 25, 2012   #3
Wow I found this essay Impeccable . You really nailed the prompt. I also loved the sensory details in the essay, it made me feel as if I were in your shoes experiencing the same tingling butterfly sensation in my stomach prior to performing in front of thousands of people. This is a real impressive achievement/experience . I kind of wish you could have described the music , just so I could get a little taste of it. No need to worry about flow here, I found transitions to be very eloquent and of course not ANY glaring problems. Reading this essay was very pleasant for me :) Great work. Seriously .

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