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The Evolution Of My Self Confidence - With A Free Essay Review



Music has always been important to me. I started playing the sax because of my cousin. For some reason I had always wanted to be like her. Not totally sure why, but I had looked up to her. I started playing alto in 4th grade and she was always telling me how I needed to switch to bari in high school because thatís what she did. Well Iím not too sad to sayÖscratch that Iím not at all sad to say that Iím still playing my alto, Zazu. Yes, I named my saxophone after the bird in the Lion King. Donít ask me why because my friend technically named it and it just stuck. Iíve thrown myself into it since day 1. I started lessons in 4th grade. There were only three of us and I was the only girl and the youngest. Letís just say it was kind of awkward for me.

Anyway, once I got into 5th grade, I started band. There were twelve kids in it and we were not that goodÖat all. I sadly was the only sax in the entire band. Needless to say, I was nervous every time we played because I felt like I was on my own. After a while I started to get the hang of it and really enjoyed being my own little section, every song was a little solo for me.

Next came middle school band. 6th graders had their own band while 7th and 8th graders were a combined band. Along with having the saxophone section triple in size, (me, my best friend, and a kid I never met before), I decided to try something new and auditioned for the middle school jazz band. Now I had never auditioned for anything in my life so I didnít know what to expect. All I knew was when the day for my audition came, I was terrified. It was definitely an experience I didnít think I would want to have again. It was just me and my teacher in a small practice room and I couldnít stop shaking. I had never been in a small room being the only one playing and basically having someone judge me and decide whether I was good enough or not. After stumbling through my audition I had to wait over a week to find out if I made it or not. When the results were listed, I quickly scanned over the list of people who got in and almost missed my name. I donít remember another time where I was as proud of myself as I was at that moment. The rest of that year was full of new experiences and learning new music and techniques. The next year came and although I absolutely hated the idea of another audition, I wrote my name on the list anyway. I had loved the experience I had gotten in jazz band the year before and just couldnít pass it up again. I was finally starting to become confident as a musician and was getting ok with putting myself out there to be judgedÖkind of. Again, I stumbled through the audition process and the waiting time and got accepted into the jazz band for a second time. Being able to make it into jazz band was really helping my self-confidence which was totally lacking in middle school, and well high school but itís getting better. Any who, 8th grade came around and of course I still hated everything about auditions but I was learning so much and was starting to fall in love with jazz music and I just had to try and make it my last year in middle school. It was the same old story of auditions and waiting for a third time and to my surprise I made it for my third and final time. Making jazz band and being a part of something really special was so important to me because it was something not everyone could do and it was just something I was so proud of myself for.

High school band has been some of the best times Iíve ever experienced in high school. Being a part of the band has really let me express myself in high school and be a part of a family that all shared the same interest, music. Most of high school wasnít the best time for me and whenever I had something that just really sucked and I was unhappy I always had band to look forward to which always put me back into a great mood because it was something I was really good at. Even now, my self-confidence is a little shaky sometimes and as Iíve learned from the past, I wasnít good in front of people knowing they were able to judge me and what I did. Knowing this, you would think I would be the quiet kid that stayed in the corner and didnít branch out much. Well, thatís not it at all. I had learned I really didnít like soloing in during band, so what did I do about it? I volunteered for a solo at the prism concert. The prism concert is a concert where kids volunteer to do solos and we spread out all through the auditorium. The whole room is pitch black except for a single stand light of the soloist at the moment. It is absolutely silent and you can just feel people watching you, well at least it felt that way for me. While people were volunteering for solos I decided right then and there that I couldnít just sit in a corner all through high school, I had to make an impression and what better time than freshman year was there? I was debating back and forth whether to go for it or not and while I was doing that, my friend said she would do a duet with me so I was more comfortable. I couldnít have thanked her enough. Prism came and we were assigned to be off in a corner for our solo. We sat there in the dark listening to the other solos, scared out of our minds. I couldnít believe I was actually performing at the concert just the two of us with no one conducting us or playing along like in normal concert band. It was an experience I had never been through before. Our solo came, and with shaking hands we turned the stand light on and took the song note by note, not worrying about anyone else besides us and the music. And you know what? I had one of the best times of my life. We got through the song perfectly song and breathed a sigh of relief as we turned the stand light off. We hugged each other in the dark in complete disbelief that we had actually gotten through it without any major problems and spent the rest of the night with big smiles on our faces. Because of that moment of accomplishment, we have continued to do a duet at every prism concert and will do so until we graduate. However, because I know that I really can perform under those conditions if I put my mind to it, I have decided to not only do the duet with Franny, but also a duet with my sister, Callie and if I can get myself to do it (hopefully), a solo in the next prism concert.

I knew that I always had problems soloing but I also knew that I had to get over that fear, and sometimes I just didnít have a choice but to face it head on. Going along with the theme of ďtrying something newĒ, instead of auditioning for jazz band I auditioned for jazz combo. Jazz band and combo are the same in that they both are all about jazz music. However, they have some major differences. In a normal jazz band, everyone has a different part depending on what instrument you play and a few people solo for a few measures within the song. Now jazz combo isnít like that. We all look at one head chart which has all the same parts on it; the only difference is what key itís in depending on the instrument. You would play through the head chart once just like any other song, but instead of stopping at the end you play through it again and again. Hereís the difference, after the first time you play through it, a soloist will then make up a solo on the spot through the entire song and you go through the line of soloists and just keep playing the song. When I first started jazz combo I did not like the idea of having to solo for an entire song at all. I always tried to get out of it. Now, I still try and get out of it even though I know it never works. But while I do solo, Iíve noticed that the shaking and butterflies in my stomach are gone. I still may not like soloing but Iíve learned that I can do it and personally, I think Iím getting kind of good at it. Itís only taken 6 years, no big deal.

Along with not liking putting myself out there to be judged, I also HATE being in front of a lot of people in general. Just like prism, I did the total opposite of what I was comfortable with. You would think I would again hide in the back and avoid being in front of people. Nope, I wrote an application letter and became drum major of the band. Being drum major means I conduct the band during pep band (at football games and pep rallies) and marching band (Memorial Day parades). Not only am I in front of the entire band which can be freaky at times, I mean weíre a big band, but Iím also in front of anyone who goes to a high school football game and anyone who goes to the Hamilton or Wenham Memorial Day parades (which is A TON of people). Anyway, needless to say I didnít know what possessed me to try and become drum major but I did it and was totally freaked out at first. I had no idea what I was doing or what I was getting myself into. But I went through with it anyway because I still wanted to make an impression while I was in high school. Long story short, this was by far the BEST experience Iíve ever had in high school band. Pep band was always so much fun because we really enjoyed what we did. Even though some of the music was a little out there, i.e. The Final Countdown, I wouldnít want to play anything differently. We also made some awesome traditions. We always supported the kids on the football team who were in band by yelling out their names when the cheerleaders were doing ďroll-callĒ, even if it might have annoyed the cheerleaders. Another tradition which may seem confusing to kids who arenít in band, is a song that we always play. We had found it on YouTube and it was basically a prank video that used a saxophone version of George Michaelís song, ďCareless WhispererĒ, or as we call it, ďThat George Michaelís songĒ (which is what itís called in the video. Again, it may seem weird to non-band kids and now that I try explaining it, itís kind of confusing to even write about, but thatís ok.

Over the past 3 years of high school, Iíve seen a drastic change in how I hold myself and most importantly how my confidence has grown instead of just hiding in the corner. I would never have been able to achieve any of this without my teacher, who I consider to be one of the most important people in my life. He has really pushed me to go just a little bit farther than my comfort zone and has done nothing but help me become a better musician with everything that I try. Because of him, I want to go into music education in college so I can try and help and inspire other kids, just like he has helped and inspired me since I started band.

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ESSAY REVIEW

There is not much very helpful that I can say about this essay, especially not in the absence of a good sense of its purpose and intended audience. Obviously the style is much too conversational and informal for an academic essay and probably also for any kind of application essay; it might be appropriate for a creative writing course and, depending on your teacher, for a course in basic composition, but for such courses too you should eliminate the more hackneyed expressions which tend to be a way of evading the task of actually communicating your thoughts with clarity and precision. "Let's just say it was kind of awkward for me" tells your reader very little of what it was like to be "the only girl and youngest" during your first lessons, for example. The statement "being a part of the band has really let me express myself in high school" is another example of a vague and ultimately hackneyed expression that communicates nothing concrete, which is a pity because this is one of the sentences in which you are not merely recording facts or events or feelings about facts or events, but also trying to saying something specifically about how such facts and events played a role in your education and your personal development. The latter seems to be the one unifying theme of the essay, so it is all the more important that sentences that deal directly with that theme be as specific and concrete as possible. Such sentences, I would suggest, should also be more numerous in your essay. If you take out every sentence that only records a fact or an event or how you felt about the event, I think you will find that there is very little of the essay left, which means there is very little interpretation of the significance of those facts and events. Whether the prompt, if there is one, demands such interpretation, I cannot know, but the essay would certainly be more meaningful with it.

The essay is framed by reference to two influential persons in your musical life: your cousin and your teacher, but the body of the essay says nothing about these persons or their impact on the evolution of your self-confidence (I really like the title, by the way). Including further reflection on the nature of that impact in the body of the essay might be one way to improve the interpretive and analytical aspects of your essay, and might also help improve its coherence.

Best, EJ.
Submitted by: katierose95
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