A Passion For Music - Varsity Tutors Scholarship Essay
For many students there is a particular subject that excites them. Some are enthusiastic over World War II or solving for “X”. Even if a student does not care for some of their classes, there is always one subject that can push them through a long day. Sometimes a teacher or certain learning environment sways a student towards a certain subject. Throughout my education, I have taken a variety of different courses. My favorite subject has changed as well. From English to French to History, the one constant joy in my school day has always been music.
On my home videos of me as a child, I am always singing and dancing. ‘Pop Goes the Weasel’ and ‘Silent Night’ being a couple of my favorites, I have always had a passion for music. In elementary school, we had a music class that rotated along with Physical Education. The most instrumental person in shaping my love for music was my elementary music teacher. Although many kids have different passions, I believe that devotion to any subject needs an enthusiastic teacher or adult to help shape the way.
My elementary music teacher always had a smile on her face in class. She asked students about their day, and always knew something special about each individual student. She had us learn songs each year. Some would be retaught every year, such as Louis Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World”. She used books to enhance the songs. She also tried to expose us children to as many different instruments as she could. We played musical bingo and had to guess the type of instrument that was playing. Although I never won, it was always fun to try and tell the difference between an oboe and a clarinet. We worked on rhythm and used all different kinds of drums and chimes and made songs with them. Her creativity really sparked my passion for music because my elementary school music teacher brought me the most joy throughout my entire school day.
I sung in choir in junior high in 7th and 8th grade. Those classes were okay. There was nothing very spectacular about them until 9th grade choir. I attended a junior high, which taught grades 7-9 rather than 6-8 in a typical middle school. 9th grade choir was by far the most competitive music environment that I had participated in. It was not the most enjoyable year because I had entered the classroom thinking it was going to be as fun and fair as it had been the past two years. During that year I had some hard times with some of the girls in the class. I believe that that was the first time when I really tuned in to the beauty of music, and tuned out to the craziness that was surrounding me. I then became far more competitive, and learned to defend myself. In a way, focusing more on the musical aspect allowed me to appreciate the beauty of music more than I ever had.
Now that I am in high school, I am now more involved in music than ever before. I participate in four auditioned choral ensembles at my high school. Two of them are held during school hours and the other two are held after school and require practicing outside of school. I also take voice lessons from a very accomplished and intelligent teacher who shows me things about music and myself every week. However, these ensembles and other extracurriculars brought me to the decision to quit piano lessons, which I have taken since I was very young. This was very sad for me, but I will be forever grateful for the basis of my musical knowledge and the encouragement to pursue music in school.
My music teachers are absolutely brilliant, and serve as an inspiration for me every day. I credit all of my teachers to my musical growth, and that is why music is my favorite subject. Every teacher that I have had has shown an obvious devotion to what they were teaching, and I believe that this passion for what those teachers have to teach me, along with my fellow peers is what connects me to the music.
For a high school senior, the Common Application personal statement essay may seem like the most important 650 words he or she will ever write. Throughout high school, students are coached to write the perfect "personal essay" to show why they are qualified to extend their academic careers to colleges and universities. There is intense pressure to make sure that this essay accurately represents one's intelligence, insight, experiences, and qualifications -- all in a concise, well-articulated format. So, how then, is a student supposed to represent him or herself in fewer words than an average newspaper editorial?
With some of the most competitive schools in the country, such as UCLA, UC Berkeley, and NYU, all receiving over 40,000 applications each year, there is clear pressure for applicants to stand out, and the personal essay is often the time to do so. It is understandable for students to draw from unique, and often unfortunate, experiences to appeal to admissions staff. However, in the midst of trying to set themselves apart, many students can be found competing for the most tragic story for their essay, rather than for a holistic representation of themselves as students and human beings. A seemingly beautiful opportunity to express oneself often takes a negative turn when students try to justify their mistakes or a poor grade through the telling of personal tragedies.
This is not to say that students shouldn't write about challenging experiences. We are all entitled to feel proud of our accomplishments, as well as overcoming adversity. The open-ended nature and variety of prompts allow students to truly write about what ever they please. In fact, one of the Common App's essay prompts asks students to recall an experience of failure.
What truly matters is how applicants address writing about hardship. When I was writing my college essay, I thought about discussing the many moves my family made across the country through my childhood. It was certainly difficult moving to new a new place where I knew no one, but these experiences were also incredibly enlightening. I learned to appreciate diversity in many forms and I gained a unique perspective on life. I ended up writing about how these experiences and others combined with my passion for writing inspired me to begin writing a memoir-like book of essays. My essay was far from perfect, although through the college application process, I learned how to use my passion for writing to express my feelings about experiences of my life, both difficult and joyous.
Undoubtedly a better example of a college essay comes from Kwasi Enin, the Long Island teenager who was accepted to all eight Ivy League schools this year and has since committed to Yale University. In his essay, excerpts of which can be found here, Enin shares his passion for the violin and how his love of music has influenced his life.
"The most important task of a leader is to create harmony between each member of the group, which reveals the group's maximum potential. With improvement and balance comes success and music taught me all of these virtues." Drawing from his own experience as a musician, Enin relates his musical passion to leadership and working as part of a team, showing how playing the violin has shaped his identity and values.
Writing about hardships, while it is easy to focus on the negatives, can actually be a positive healing experience. This type of writing allows students to realize their own resiliency and passions. Regardless of one's interests, whether it be writing, a sport, or music like Enin, passion will shine through in an essay. Through writing about both challenging and positive experiences, students should not sell themselves short and rather emphasize their passions as a result of these experiences, not despite them.
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