Lessons from the Bench

Describe how a passion or individual talent has shaped you into the person you are today.

The dazzling stage lights blocked out the members of the audience, momentarily blinding me. With sweaty palms, I bowed deeply towards the crowd, symbolically expressing my gratitude. I walked slowly off the wooden stage, my long, white gown swishing delicately behind me. Back in the wings, I took a deep breath and massaged my shoulders, reflecting on the events of the last few moments. I had just played Schubert’s striking “Erlkönig” in my county’s annual scholarship competition. I had devoted the last few months to this very moment, dedicating two to three hours of daily practice. Pausing backstage, I reminisced about the lessons I had learned from the bench over the past twelve years.

I began taking piano lessons when I was five years old. My parents later told me that the instrument’s ivory keys, which sounded so sweet one moment and so intense the next, mesmerized me. I longed to lovingly stroke those eighty-eight keys and convey my emotions to my audience, expressively connecting with the music on a personal level I could only dream of. What began as an innocent desire to create beautiful music transformed into a profound passion, fueled by sincere focus and dedication.

I feel that playing the piano has developed me as a...

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