The Reflections unit was about exploring my own identity and what that entails. In each of my classes, I created projects about who I am and what I am passionate about. For film class, I created a short film about my own experiences. It was a bit difficult, as I’m not the most comfortable with talking about my disabilities. I’m a selectively outgoing person, so opening up about something personal was a challenge for me. I’m very proud of the result though. For English, I wrote an essay about my experiences as a harpist and what the harp has helped me with. Harp is something that I love and I’ve tried to incorporate it into as many Freestyle projects as I can. For Digital Media, I created a short video on After Effects about something I am passionate about: cats. It was a lot of fun to write and record.

Personal Essay

For English class, we each wrote a personal essay about our own experiences. I chose harp as my subject. As you can probably tell from the numerous pictures of harps on this website, I love the harp. I’ve been playing it for almost a decade now, and I wanted this essay to touch on why I chose the harp. This essay would also serve as my Common Application statement. To prepare, I read a book about writing college essays, and I brainstormed things that make me different than others. The main challenge was making sure that my voice shone through. I feel like the final product shows off my personality and voice. I am very proud of it.

Text: Ever since I was a kid, I have had mysteriously weak hands.  Even though they are much better now, my handwriting looks like a very neat kindergartener’s. Considering that doctors once predicted that I would never be able to hold a pencil, I can still doodle through an entire class lecture. This triumph is the result of years of tedious physical and occupational therapy. I wrote the alphabet over and over again, as if I were a kindergartener learning how to write for the first time (even though I was eight), made origami swans, and crocheted hideous scarves. Some of these activities are fun in moderation. However, I have a tendency to get bored of things very quickly. I need variety. I go through phases where I get extremely invested in something random, like reading memoirs, attempting to learn a new language, learning a new instrument, and so on. The key is avoiding monotony. That’s why, on a whim, I jumped from the tedium of copying letters to playing the harp. 

Honestly, my exposure to harp before I began playing consisted of pictures of angels, cartoons, and the first Harry Potter book. I didn’t know I lived in an area with a thriving harp community. Someone threw the idea out at my mom, I agreed, and occupational therapy was done. My harp adventure was just beginning. My parents explained my learning disabilities to my harp teachers, who made sure to teach me in a considerate way. They understood that when I get excited about something, I put all of my effort into it, often obsessively. When I finally got sheet music for Tangled, I promptly memorized various parts and played them repeatedly For years. Instead of getting sick of hearing the same song over and over again, they understood and helped me out. 

Through middle school and high school, I had my harp as a companion, which made everything around me significantly less scary. I found a niche for myself; some harpists could only play classical music or accompany orchestras, but I enjoyed arranging pop or Disney music. I carved out my own role out of what I was able to do. Other harpists had better technique. They could sight-read easily or find a harmonic on a string on the first try. I, on the other hand, had courage, creativity, a passable singing voice, and I could make things up on the spot.

I realized that there’s a lot about the harp I could improve on, but I play it in my own way, and I love how I sound. As I gained more confidence, others noticed: I was invited to play at more events and intern for other harpists.

By high school, I realized that it is important to do what I love, even if it is intimidating. I sang in front of other people for the first time when I was sixteen. I remember shaking as I introduced myself to a crowd of strangers. As they seemed to peer into the depths of my soul, I shakily played the intro once through and I completely shut out the audience. It was just me and my harp. And my mom backing me up on the piano. The harp had given me enough self confidence to play it and sing in front of others. It was the best performance of my life.

Wherever I end up, I’ll bring my harp with me. I don’t understand the logistics of this at all. Hopefully, there will be a harp somewhere on my college campus next year. In all, I’ve learned how to help others with harp; I’ve played at rest homes and studied a little bit about musical therapy. I just want to use my skills to make the world a better place. I’ve learned so much from the harp, and it’s only fair that I use that knowledge to make things a little bit better.

Perspective Piece

For Digital Media, we each made videos about a topic we are passionate about. I chose the differences between cat people and dog people. I had some experience with AfterEffects from my narrative film from last year, but I quickly figured out that I had barely scratched the surface of AfterEffects. It is difficult to use, but I think I am getting the hang of it. I hope. I learned how to find images and edit them into a video.

Text: Every cat person I’ve met is relatively ambivalent about the subject. They prefer cats, but feel no hatred towards dogs. I come from a family of cat people who love dogs. We all just prefer cats. I plan on getting a dog someday, and there are many things I love about them. They are adorable, loyal, idiots. Cats are cleaner, less clingy and a little bit smarter. No offense. Dog people are very, very passionate about dogs. They hate cats. Cat people recognize that dogs are valid, meanwhile, dog people act as if a cat murdered their whole family, ruined their marriage, and burned down their house afterwards. Dog people are very particular about dog breeds too. They know that their dog is 25% german shepherd, 25% poodle, and 50% golden retriever. They think I automatically know the implications of this on the dog’s personality. I sort of do, I guess. The poodle makes it fluffy, the german shepherd makes it protective, the golden retriever makes it hyper. But that’s because everyone is expected to like dogs! Notice how if you hate dogs, you are automatically Cruella DeVille! But if you hate cats, that’s ok! Now notice that cats are coded in media as feminine animals, while dogs are coded as masculine. You often hear of cat ladies, and people think it’s kind of weird if a guy has a cat on his own. Little girls love kittens. Kittens are quiet. Cats keep themselves clean. Also, it’s almost October, and unless you live underneath a rock, you will see at least one sexy cat costume. Cat eye is a type of eyeliner to make your eyes prettier and bigger. Kitten heels are dainty, small high heels. But dogs? Dogs have none of that. Dogs are shown to be big, strong protectors of your property. Never mind the fact that a chihuahuas would lose any fight and the only real protection they can provide is getting protection from peace and quiet, as their barks are incredibly annoying. Dogs are the tough guys. Dogs are coded as masculine in media. And I love dogs, but I have to love dogs! I’m a monster if I don’t! And I think these two concepts are connected.

The image shows AfterEffects and the video being edited. A picture of a woman with two cats is in the middle.
This image shows the editing process of this video. As you can see, there is a layer for every image. Every image will last for a couple of frames.

Reflections Film

For this assignment, I created a video about my perspective and my experiences. It is just over two minutes, but I put a lot of work into it. It was a difficult project. I had to film myself and others snapping, playing the harp, and writing.

I edited this together using Premiere Pro. It was difficult and it took a lot of time, but I am very proud of the result. I took all of the clips of people snapping and I tried to set it to the music I found. I also added text and a few illustrations. For the part where parts of my hand are circled, I had to go frame by frame drawing on more circles. It was very time consuming, but it was a lot of fun.