Nicholas has written some insightful feedback for Oliver Betz‘s personal essay on his life as a high-pressure solo pianist. Oliver attends the Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts in NYC, and has trained at Juilliard. Betz has played over 30 concerts in Europe and the United States.
I think this personal story is effective because the structure evokes feelings in the reader. This story has a very sudden introduction, a lot of description in the body and a sudden ending.
Through this story, I could tell that that the author did not provide any background information – instead, he dived right in to the events that happened. The introduction started off with “I was second on the program for the Schubert trio and last for the Mozart Quartet on the program. Having to enter the stage quickly, I felt like I was just dumped into sizzling water.” I think that this part was very effective because it makes the piece more engaging. Additionally, getting straight to the point makes the reader want to just rush in to the details of the essay. Thus, the reader is engaged at the beginning of the story. Additionally, all the other paragraphs start this way. The lack of transitions and connections between the different paragraphs makes the reader want to know more about the next paragraph, which is usually not really related to the previous one. For example, “I wouldn’t let people down, but I seemed to have lost my enthusiasm” directly changed into “We arranged ourselves in the specific order…”. The effect of this is that the reader is constantly being told about new things and the reader would like to know more.
Secondly, I think that this piece of writing makes the reader feel feelings because it is written in a first person perspective and it is how we imagine things. For example, “I pressed down the middle A ivory key and the tones that came out of the string players made the hairs growing out of my brain stand up.” This is really effective because we can all relate to this hyperbole, as it sometimes feels this way when we are especially nervous or on edge. Additionally, instead of just addressing that he felt nervous, he went deeper and told us how he was affected physically. The effect of this sentence makes the reader feel more attached to the essay and makes them feel like they were playing the piano. Furthermore, instead of narrating his experience, he focused more on the small details instead, such as “He was smiling sheepishly as if he were telling a lie so I knew he wasn’t being serious.” These types of details add more to the atmosphere of nervousness and anxiety and it also makes the reader flow through the whole story like a dream or a simulation.
In conclusion, I think that this piece is very effective in terms of detail and structure. However, I think that the only thing that needs to be improved is the background information. I think he should give more background information because in my opinion, the reader is a bit naïve about what is going on and he/she needs to read on to get the story. Unless that was his point all along?