Sheer Joy | Harvard University Undergraduate Application Essay

My own eyes were closed, but I could sense hundreds watching us. My fingers, previously swathed in thick woolen gloves, were loose and warm. I exhaled slowly and willed all my muscles to relax. I brought the cold, smooth mouthpiece up to my lips and softly blew the opening notes of our piece, letting the notes ring in the vast theatre. Other voices gradually joined in: the low drone of a bassoon, the threatening rumble of the timpani, and the melodious hum of a clarinet. Performing with my wind ensemble has always filled me with a certain satisfaction and empowerment that only creating music with a large group could yield. Although the strict deadlines and exhausting rehearsals were overpowering at times, the sense of comfort and acceptance I experienced was unparalleled. Playing the flute gave me the opportunity to be a part of a community, in which creating music was our communication.

However, in the middle of my sophomore year of high school, one of my closest friends presented me with a guitar that he had picked up from a local yard sale. It was simply constructed with plain, pale pieces of wood, and although the instrument was old, stained, and cracked in many places, I could tell that it had character; a rich history of…

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