As promised, here’s the ending of Sophia’s essay on “Conquering Juliet”:
I didn’t quite understand what was happening until I found myself backstage, petrified, quaking. My hands were cold. I couldn’t remember how my piece started. An old mirror betrayed the contrast between my chalk-white face and my dark gown, and I wondered how many other musicians had stared into that same glass. Carnegie Hall. It didn’t seem right. This was supposed to be the unattainable goal, the carrot of false hope that would keep me practicing for an entire lifetime. And yet here I was, an eighth-grader, about to play “Juliet as a Young Girl” for the expectant crowd. I had worked so hard for this. Romeo and Juliet weren’t the only characters I had learned. The sweet, repetitive murmuring that accompanied Juliet was her nurse; the boisterous chords were Romeo’s teasing friends. So much of me was manifested in this piece, in one way or another. At that moment, I realized how much I loved this music. Performing isn’t easy—in fact, it’s heartbreaking. You spend months, maybe years, mastering a piece; you become a part of it, and it becomes a part of you. Playing for an audience is like giving blood; it leaves you feeling empty and a bit light-headed. And when it’s all over, your piece just isn’t yours anymore. It was time. I walked out to the piano and bowed. Only the stage was lit, and I couldn’t see the faces of the audience. I said good-bye to Romeo and Juliet, then released them into the darkness.
This was an essay that the teenage daughter wrote about learning and performing a piece of music at Carnegie Hall. I think it’s brilliant.