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Undergraduate   Posts: 13

'I went up on the stage and bowed' - Common App - Random Topic


epkrnftblluva  
Sep 1, 2009   #1
Hey everyone, my name is Edward and I'm writing my application essays and I would like some feedback on them. Any help would be appreciated. I am applying to Stanford by the way, just in case that affects anything. I haven't picked the title yet. Here it is:

I went up on the stage and bowed. I gave a great big smile to my parents who I could clearly see in the middle of the audience, but inside I didn't feel so confident. My heart was beating a thousand miles per hour and I slowly walked towards the black behemoth. I sat, adjusted the bench, and left my hands on my lap. I tried to stop the shaking, but I couldn't, so placed my hands on the keyboard started playing.

The piece had a dramatic beginning that started with a bang and then went into a lyrical section where one could almost hear a choir singing in the background. I had to allow the music to flow free from my hands but I also had to be careful because how hard you pressed your fingers, in what shape your fingers were in, and how much the force your fingers exerted on the piano all mattered. That wasn't all. There were more than five different depths the pedal could go, more than ten different occasions in which the left pedal were needed, or a millisecond difference in how long a rest should be and not be. As I tried to balance the technicality of playing music and making music as a musician, I had to give an inhuman effort to give great music to the audience. As my fingers went up and down following the gentle contours of the black and white keys, I tried to let my brain unconsciously follow the technicalities and slowly eased into the relaxation of music. I closed my eyes, leaned back and right at that moment I was in pure bliss.

A jarring note split the air. I quickly opened my eyes and realized that I had accidently made a mistake and ended up in the wrong place. My mind raced and I threw my hands to the nearest section I remembered. I took care of the mistake, but I was now worried that the audience wouldn't appreciate my performance anymore. I finished the piece, trying to keep my countenance, just like I did in the beginning of the piece. I stood up, smiled at the audience, bowed, and came down from the stage.

After the concert, I went out into the bright lights of the reception ready to quickly leave the concert hall, but as I was passing a group of people, I overheard a group of people talking about my performance.

"Did you listen to the piece Edward played?"
"Yeah, it was amazing."
"You can tell he was really into it and put all his effort into it."
At that moment, I realized it didn't matter how many negligible mistakes I made. I made music and shared my love of music with the audience. No way would all my hours of practicing and my efforts be canceled by one mistake. Just like my piano teacher told me, I am not just a pianist, I am a musician.

I was wondering if it was too vague on my qualities so feel free to offer any advice. Thanks!

christiek  
Sep 1, 2009   #2
epkrnftblluva

because how hard you pressed your fingers, in what shape your fingers were in, and how much the force your fingers exerted on the piano all mattered.

there is a grammatical error here.

epkrnftblluva

I had to give an inhuman effort to give great music to the audience.

A little too dramatic. Inhuman effort??

epkrnftblluva

finished the piece, trying to keep my countenance, just like I did in the beginning of the piece.

run-on sentence.

-what's the prompt?
-hmmm, epkrnftblluva

I was wondering if it was too vague on my qualities

what qualities are you trying to portray really?

hopefully that helped a bit :)

good luck!!
OP epkrnftblluva  
Sep 1, 2009   #3
Oh yeah, in the common app you have the choice of writing about whatever you want, so I marked Other. Thanks Christie! I didn't really know what qualities this essay showed and only focused on getting across my passion for music and the piano. I am just wondering if that is enough...
EF_Sean [Moderator]  
Sep 1, 2009   #4
I was wondering if it was too vague on my qualities so feel free to offer any advice.

Yes. You are too vague on the qualities. But the problem isn't a big one. You have a really specific narrative, you just need to focus a little bit more on the confidence you gained at the end, when you are reflecting on the experience.

Just like my piano teacher told me, I am not just a pianist, I am a musician.

This would be a really effective ending, if it in fact referred back to something mentioned earlier in the essay, which it apparently doesn't at the moment.
EF_Simone [Moderator]  
Sep 1, 2009   #5
Yes, the narrative is very strong. Just be sure to close the essay with a conclusion that specifies what you learned and/or what qualities -- dedication, courage, musicality -- the story illustrates.
Llamapoop123  
Sep 1, 2009   #6
As I tried to balance the technicality of playing music and making music as a musician, I had to give an inhuman effort to give great music to the audience.

I don't quite understand this.

No way would all my hours of practicing and my efforts be canceled by one mistake.

Nice. I wrote an setback essay for U of M on this website that dealt with a similar issue.

At that moment, I realized it didn't matter how many negligible mistakes I made.

My heart was beating a thousand miles per hour

Your heart cannot beat "a thousand miles per hour".

a millisecond difference in how long a rest should be and not be.

I doubt that a millisecond matters. I'm not sure if you should use hyperbole here.
amy87014  
Sep 2, 2009   #7
I actually really like it.
Just one thing, I know there's a Topic of Your Choice for Common App
but your story seems to not really say many things other than that you love music.
Maybe add something about what you've learned through playing piano and the difficulties you encountered?(just some suggestions)
Nice narrative though!!!
OP epkrnftblluva  
Sep 2, 2009   #8
Thank you everyone for the feedback. I just had one more question. Is the topic too cliche? I had a few friends read it and all I got back was that it wasn't unique to me and anyone could've written this essay. They said that there were lots of essays that were about the "big day" and about "music". I was very put down by the comments and was wondering if I should change the topic. Thanks!
Llamapoop123  
Sep 2, 2009   #9
They said that there were lots of essays that were about the "big day" and about "music".

No no no. Your friends are just being cranky (or perhaps I just have a soft spot for piano essays). Revise it according to our suggestions and repost.
Mayada  
Sep 2, 2009   #10
My mind raced and I threw my hands to the nearest section I remembered. I took care of the mistake,

You can consider this an example of how you try to manage your mistakes.. because it's a really good example. Everyone makes mistakes, but a smart person knows how to deal with them and manage them. I think you can relate a lot of this to your life and personality.
EF_Simone [Moderator]  
Sep 5, 2009   #11
I don't want to ascribe sentiments to your friends, but this topic is fine.
EF_Sean [Moderator]  
Sep 7, 2009   #12
They said that there were lots of essays that were about the "big day" and about "music".

This is probably true. It would also have been true about just about any other topic you picked. Most undergrad applicants are teenagers from fairly similar backgrounds. They all have to write on the same prompts, and do so in a way that highlights one of the same set of qualities. Obviously this will lead to a lot of overlap. The best you can hope for is to write your essay well, with a high level of specificity, and a bit of originality in the slant you put on it. You did all three of these things, so don't worry about it.
Beautifulnights  
Sep 7, 2009   #13
Very nice essay! I like it, and I don't think its too vague- you were going the "show, dont tell" route, and it definetly worked. I especially love the little dialogue you added at the end, it really pulled it together.


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