A Fifth Grader's Retrospective on Performing

Originally published November 26, 2014 on www.GigHarp.com
Pacific Northwest Harp Ensemble

My mom just sent a box filled with all of my report cards, certificates of achievement (including D.A.R.E!) awards and birth certificate. Included was the essay below.

I wrote this in the 5th grade for an admissions application to middle school at Charles Wright Academy about my first experience playing with a harp ensemble. I tried to replicate the essay exactly while re-typing: the same comic sans font, spelling mistakes and lack of commas. Good news, I was admitted to Charles Wright without having mastered Microsoft word’s spell-check. 

It’s funny reading this now, I recall being so thrilled with the harp ensemble each year and always felt like such a star. At the end of each concert, every player received a single rose and then attended a reception. (I saved my first rose until I left for college). And the “men,” were affectionately called “harp daddy’s.”

My First Harp Ensemble

(An Exciting day)

I strolled into the tiny room where I had my harp lessons. The little room had an ugly green wall to wall carpeting and plastic paneling. On the far side of the room harps lined the wall.

I sat down on the stool that was in front of the harp that I was about to play, and waited patently for my teacher, Mrs. Wooster, to tune the harp.

When we started the lesson she didn’t even look at my assignment book—she just looked through her stack of papers and set some sheet music on the music stand.

“Okay Leigh, we have a harp ensemble in thee months time. Therefore it’s time to start practicing your music,” she said calmly.

I lamely said, “okay.” But inside I was screaming, “why me!”

The days and weeks passed slowly. The closer the day of the ensemble came the more nervous I became.

On the day of the harp ensemble I wore a plain blue flowered dress. Off stage I waited for Mrs. Wooster to tune my harp for me. While I waited I grew tense and anxious. I tried to calm myself down but kept on thinking of what would happen if I made a mistake. All the thinking I did made my nervousness grow worse. At last Mrs. Wooster finished tuning my harp. My father carried my harp to the stage. He gently set it down with the other gleaming harps.

I said goodbye to my father. He walked swiftly out the door of the Rialto Theater.

I set about getting ready to rehearse before the concert. I walked on my rubber-like legs (because I was so nervous) to get a hard black chair and a metal music stand. Once I had these things, I thought about all the things that might go wrong. My heart pounded rapidly in my chest.

When my friend Ci Ci came, we practiced a piece called Cache Cache. Then we switched harps and practiced. In doing this, we forgot our fear of the performance.

When Mrs. Wooster came Ci Ci and I imedantly retreated back to our own harps. We rehearsed what needed to be rehearsed. As every second went by I became more nervous (probably along with the rest of the harpists in the ensemble). 

When we finished rehearsing we all rushed off stage to wait to be called back on stage to perform. There all the harpists (except our teacher, of course) stood nervously giggling in a straight line.

I n front of the opening in the curtain, two men waited to part the curtain for us when we walked out on stage. Finally the conductor, Mrs. Wooster, cued for us to come onto the stage.

As I walked on stage I tried hard to act as calm and serene as possible. How well it worked I don’t know and probably never will. I played my three short pieces without making too many mistakes. I was overjoyed that it was over. I thought it was silly to have been such a worry wort.