My Other Half This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

“For our next talent act, the performer will be playing Mozart Sonata K310, everybody please welcome our freshman Kevin!” My heart was racing as I stepped onto the stage that was concentrated with hundreds of eager eyes, ready to devour (or spit out) the next act. The moment I sat down on the bench, my mind was overcome with trepidation regarding mistakes and failure. After the longest five seconds, I stroked the first key with tremor in my fingers. As I kept playing, the initial uncertainty was amplified into pure agitation as a result of a wrong note. At the end of my act, the audience was applauding and cheering, but I was chastising myself for the blunders. Unexpectedly, I won the first prize in the talent show, but it did not cure my performance anxiety.
When my father was driving me home from the event, he was taken aback as I confessed to him my performance anxiety. He acknowledged my issue and told me: “The more you are on stage, the more you confident you will become”. I did not believe in his reassurance until my junior year. After gaining prominence as a pianist in my high school, I became a guest star in events such as pageant shows, grandparents’ day, retirement homes entertainment, and major ceremonies. For the first few performances, I was conscious and fearful about making mistakes. Then it occurred to me that regardless of my blunders, the audience always appreciated my talent. One particular fond memory involves an elderly woman who professed her admiration for my interpretation of Chopin’s Nocturne during the visitation of her grandchild. Through these events, I became self-assured.

For me, the essential challenge of a pianist was not always about stage confidence, but also about personal perseverance. During my sophomore year, I began my longest piano campaign–Chopin’s Ballade No.1, a composition that can even be daunting for a concert pianist. When I first encountered this challenging masterpiece, I was petrified by its technical difficulty. During the first few months, I was pessimistic and considered surrendering, but my father’s encouragement motivated me to persist my endeavor. After a year and a half of strenuous practice, I finally mastered the piece. This achievement would later motivate me to master new hobbies such as game programming and music making, because I know improvement requires devotion of time and work.

“For our next act, the performer will be playing Chopin’s Nocturne No.20, please welcome Kevin” It was my junior year talent show and my heart was racing with adrenaline as I stepped on to the stage. I sat down on the bench and cleared my head of any uncertainties. After several seconds, I caressed the first note; the initial thoughts and everything else were neutralized into blankness. As I kept playing, each keystroke of the instrument transcended my being into a parallel universe.  In this universe I vicariously felt the passion of Chopin, who infused these notes with human-like emotion. At the end of the talent show, I was notified that I did not win. Extrinsically, I did not win the one hundred dollars prize money, but intrinsically, I became confident and learned to appreciate the music I play instead of vainly anticipating blunders.

Despite what I become in the future, half of me is always a pianist. I am adequately prepared for college because of my experience with piano. Attending universities, a pianist’s perseverance and confidence have readied me for rigorous course works and accustomed me to public activities. Most importantly, being a pianist has taught me what to value in the pursuance of a higher education. Grades and money are like the one hundred dollars talent show prize; they are extrinsic, while the experience and knowledge I receive from my job or courses are like my appreciation for music; they are intrinsic.

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