Saturday, April 29, 2006

Past Paper

Today I did both a reading past paper (I got 77%) and a writing past paper, here it is. It is 778 words long and has been left exactly the way it was written during the time limit.

Question – Write about an occasion when you either took part in a live performance or helped behind the scenes. Remember to include your thoughts and feelings.

Leaving the school concert that night I remember walking out with my head held high. I had done it. Not only had I made my teacher proud, and my family, but most importantly I was proud of myself and achieving this above everything else, had been the biggest struggle of all …

In the last few hours leading up to the concert I had not been able to stop quivering: even the most measly minuscule tasks had seemed impossible. When my relatives had arrived to support me their usual bubbly reception had deteriorated and instead all I could do was mutter a simple hello.

After having to bin the majority of my dinner – my stomach was in knots – I grasped my clarinets and my music folder. I remember rummaging through my folder or numerous occasions, never fully convinced that I had all of my music.

As I stepped out the door towards my doom a strong gust of wind pushed me from behind, almost nudging me onwards.

As time passed by my self-belief left with it. I watched as the bright red door swung back and forth time and time again as the audience poured into the school. With every swing, my stomach lurched even more.

The clock ticked tantalisingly as my moment of truth grew nearer and nearer. Before I knew it the band were standing in the wings waiting to go on.

“You ready?” my teacher had asked before presenting me with a sympathetic smile – fat lot of good that would do!

There was a lump in my throat, I couldn’t let Mr Derrett down, what would he think of me?

“Yes” I whimpered whilst my eyes began to feel heaving and my chest started closing in.

The band had walked on to rapturous applause that night. Louder than usual surely? The heat was immense. At one point I had felt like I was gong to faint but luck did not seem to be on my side. The band’s performance flew by – I was completely unaware of how I had played – and soon it was time for that piece. The piece I had been practising for months on end. The piece that had transformed me into a nervous wreck. The piece that had that Mount Everest of a clarinet Cadenza slap bang in the middle of it. …

As Mr Derrett had turned to announce the piece to the unsuspecting audience I told myself that it would be all over soon and that I could play this piece. They were just people after all, and this was my chance to shine. I had been chosen to play this because Mr Derrett thought I could, and if he believed I could, then I definitely could.

I sucked my specially selected reed and placed it carefully in a regimented fashion. I glanced up at Mr Derrett as he raised the baton, took a deep breath and the piece began.

My fingers moved rapidly as that third page of music got nearer. I was trembling and my fingers seemed out of control as sweat collected on my palms. Before I knew it the brass section were playing and I started collecting my thoughts.

I looked at the audience and picked out my parents, I was so eager to make them proud. I wiped my hand on my legs and lifted my clarinet from its stand. I glanced at the music covered in black dots and markings, I knew that music, I could play it. The brass played the penultimate bar of that section as I placed the mouthpiece in my mouth and took a deep breath.

The audience were silent as I played my robust first note with a bit more vibrato than I had intended! I continued through the first line until I reached those mountainous runs, which I managed with ease. I took another deep breath and before I knew it I had reached the all-important high G which surprisingly came out in perfect pitch. I started to enjoy the experience, everyone was watching me and I was playing better than I had ever imagined. The pause note was in sight as I soared through the music with flair and eventually my solo was over and all that was left to do was to sit back enjoy the rest of the piece.

As I stood up to face the audience for my bow I caught my sister’s eye, she looked proud, I had performed my solo, and I was still alive to tell the tale. As a smile spread across my face I pondered over this experience, perhaps one day I would write about it? Perhaps not.



Chris said...

Well done! This is a vivid and honest piece, which succeeds in conveying all that the question asks for. The following are the points which I would tighten:
Still slight difficuties with verb tense - and it's NOT always easy. If you use verbs like "I had not been able ...", then in theory you need to keep that up as long as you're in that area of the past - "I HAD grasped my clarinets' [why plural??]

Do you mean your eyes were "heaving"? Strange verb, that.

Placing the reed in "regimented fashion" suggests more than one reed - just as a regiment has more than one soldier.

Too many comma-splice moments after "I knew that music" - I'd use a semi-colon, or a full stop, then go on.

Don't use that exclamation mark after the sentence about the vibrato. It adds nothing to the drama of the moment.

At the end: use the punctuation more forcibly here.-
As a smile spread across my face I pondered over this experience, perhaps one day I would write about it? Perhaps not.
I'd do this: As a smile spread across my face I pondered over this experience. Perhaps one day I would write about it.
Perhaps not.

If you read my blog ever, you'll see that I tend to favour an isolated final sentence for effect - probably overdo it, in fact.

There are a few more bits you might like to think about in terms of comma-splice, but I am very fussy and many people wouldn't bother. OK? Well done.

the teens said...

There are two clarinets as I play both e flat and b flat but perhaps I should have just ignored that. "Heaving" was a mistake when typing, it should have been heavy. I'm still struggling with understanding what a comma splice is. Also, has my previous grade 3 improved at all?

Chris said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Chris said...

Yes, in answer to your last question - I'd say this meets the criteria for Credit.

Comma splice is the technical term nowadays for what happens when you run two sentences together with only a comma instead of a full stop or a semi-colon. For example:"There was a lump in my throat, I couldn't let Mr D down, what would he think of me?"
Now, there are two examples of C-S in here. I'd rewrite this sentence thus: "There was a lump in my throat. I couldn't let Mr D down - what would he think of me?" The first sentence stands alone, but I've linked the other two to make it look as if you are leaping from the thought of letting Mr D down to the awful question of what he'd think. However, the dash (-) is better than a comma because it suggests that you are interrrupting one thought with the other which is a result of the first - he's thinking something BECAUSE you let him down.

This is a good example of making the punctuation work for you, rather than you just shoving it in because you know you must. Punctuation is a powerful tool - too many people just wave it weakly around and hope for the best. Ask youself all the time what you want to convey - in an exam essay you shouldn't let your concentration and drive slide even once. If you do, you'll write bland prose at best and sloppy stuff like this at worse.

Is that any help?