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common app feedback - a topic of your choice - i prefer choirs


hwei91 1 / -  
Dec 17, 2009   #1
hey, i would appreciate some comments and constructive criticism on my common app essay. It's only a first draft.
A topic of your choice

I prefer choirs

"Stop, stop. Second violins, it's a C sharp not a C. Bar 15 again please." I sighed. Barely 20 minutes into the weekly orchestra practice and we must have had repeated that cursed bar almost 50 times. From where I was in the woodwind section, I rolled my eyes. The second violins were the least experienced musicians in the group. Having just gotten a basic grasp of their instruments, they were unsure of themselves, the notes squeaking out of their violins with a probability ratio of 5:1 in favor of producing the wrong note.

I never knew how much work and effort needed to be put in to become a member of an orchestra. Didn't you just practice your part to perfection and go on out and play it? Apparently not. You needed to make sure everyone was playing to the rhythm, that the music blended together, the woodwinds harmonizing with the strings, the brass with the woodwinds and everyone flowing together following the movements of the conductor's baton - the little jerks, pauses, sustained notes. "It isn't about you," the conductor always says. "You may be good, but when you go on that stage and play, no one hears you, they hear the whole orchestra. If the orchestra sucks, you suck."

It was just like marching. I love marching. No, not because I got to roast myself under the hot tropical sun and go back with three different shades of skin color or because I had nothing better to do than march up and down the field in my spare time. I love it because of the sense of unity which binds us all together. There is no 'best marcher' award in a marching competition, nor is there a 'best musician' award in an orchestra. There is the best marching team and the best orchestra. My marching commandant used to tell us, 'If one person does a mistake, it's a mistake. But if everyone follows and does that same mistake at the same time, it's perfection." In time, our marching which at first was a horror to behold became more synchronized with each person looking out for the person around them - a bigger step to keep up with the tall person beside you or a slight whisper to your team mate to straighten his arm

Being in the marching team and part of the orchestra taught me an important lesson that saw me through my final year of high school when I was taking the South Australian Matriculation (SAM). SAM had a way of scaling your marks in accordance to the performance of your class mates. In order to do well, the whole class had to do well together. Upon that realization, we began helping each other in order to pull our marks up. I was better at math and accounting and tutored my friends in those subjects. Economics was not my strong point and I looked to others for help.

So, perhaps just doing my part and practicing my clarinet section for the orchestra isn't enough. Perhaps being a good marcher in itself won't cut it nor will a good student in the SAM program. I've learned that at times choirs are better than solo performances. Whole choirs seem full and rich with all their different parts, while solos sometimes seem empty and barren. Our fellow "choir members" will be there to 'offer us a drink' when our throats are too parched and dry to sing another note, to celebrate with us after a victory won together. Soloists meanwhile are sometimes 'left on an empty stage' after everything is over.

My friend in the local swim team has been struggling to make the cut for the swim meet. Clocking two seconds outside the qualifying time the coach gave her a 'backdoor' method by entering her in the relay races. On the day of the competition, she swam as she never swam before beating the qualifying time and setting a personal best. When asked about it, she later said "I wasn't swimming for myself anymore, I was swimming for my team."

Such is the power of our fellow comrades. They spur us on and pick us up when we can no longer pick ourselves up.
Jeannie 10 / 214  
Dec 18, 2009   #2
"Stop, stop. Second violins, it's a C sharp not a C. Bar 15 again please." I sighed. Barely 20 minutes into the weekly orchestra practice and we must have had repeated that cursed bar almost 50 times. From where I was in the woodwind section, I rolled my eyes. The second violins were the least experienced musicians in the group. Having just gotten a basic grasp of their instruments, they were unsure of themselves.T he notes squeaking out of their violins withhad a probability ratio of 5:1 in favor of producing the wrong note.

This thought ends too abruptly. In order to go from here to the next paragraph, I would say something like, "But the second violin section is an important part of the Orchestra, the team, and every musician starts at the beginning. It takes a lot of practice to master a skill." <I made that up, but you get my drift...Now you can talk about how much work goes into honing your skill.
EF_Kevin 8 / 13,321 129  
Dec 20, 2009   #3
Having just gotten a basic grasp of their instruments, they were unsure of themselves, the notes squeaking out of their violins with a probability ratio of 5:1 in favor of producing the wrong note.

After this sentence, you should add one more before ending the first paragraph. Part of the experience you are providing for the reader is to let their mind reflect on your meaning in between paragraphs. Add one more sentence, and let it connect this observation of their wrong notes to your main idea of the whole essay... IF that is possible.


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