Writing Samples – Opinion

Sample 1-The Rotunda

The Importance of Music

By Michelle Moodhe

Many people have heard the theory that those who are exposed to and/or play music at a young age benefit when it comes to academics. It is said that certain parts of the brain are developed differently. I guess that is why by fourth grade, at my school, many kids were allowed to play in the orchestra, by fifth grade you could join band and everyone sang in chorus. At age nine I picked up violin and played it for about four years, and at ten I began playing the saxophone. And by senior year of high school I taught myself acoustic guitar. Personally, I am not the biggest fan of mathematics, I do better with writing words and historical facts, and I was also not the most outspoken person in the class. But playing an instrument provided me with an escape where I could speak through music.

Playing an instrument is something I think everyone should try at least once in life. It teaches oneself discipline, a sense of pride and provides a creative outlet. I know this may sound strange, especially in an era Lady Gaga, and Justin Bieber, but I truly enjoy classical music. Classical music can improve linguistic and spatial abilities, as well as increase focus when studying. My roommate and I often listen to classical music when writing papers at 3 a.m. or studying for a test. It has also been proven that this type of music reduces stress levels as well, and as a college student that sense of relief is much needed. Junior, Kristina Bryant , an education major discussed how they are taught to incorporate music into their education classes.  “We are encouraged to use instruments and singing lessons to help students activate their minds.  Things like rhythm and melodies help kids remember especially at a young age,” said Bryant.

Reading music is a talent in itself, a skill that takes patience and dedication. Learning to play music gives you a sense of rhythm and timing. I feel as though it is important to understand such concepts, as it can be applied to everyday life. Rhythm provides balance, something constant and evenly spaced. This, I think, helps when managing time and schedules, projects, and homework. If you have no sense of time, chaos is always close behind.

By senior year of high school, the SAT’s were over, the stressfulness of college applications was over and I felt as though something was missing in my life. According to College-Bound Seniors National Report students who took music type or art classes scored higher on the SAT’s.  This source also proclaimed that students who were in the performing concentration scored 53 points higher on verbal questions and 39 points better on math questions; these statics proving how music can stimulate the mind.  Between School and sports they had both taken over much of my life at that point, and now that all of it was over I needed something to focus my time on. My older brother had been playing electric guitar for a few years at the time and I had always dreamed of playing acoustic guitar myself. On my 18th birthday, my brother bought me my very own Yamaha acoustic guitar. I felt as though I had something to work for, and another way to express myself. For months I taught myself guitar, practicing every day, until my fingertips were raw. By the end of that summer, before freshman year of college, I had no feeling in my fingers, but I had gained a feeling of accomplishment. Tara Gillam a junior at Longwood University shared a similar background.  At a young age Gilliam picked up guitar and began playing and used it as an outlet.   “As an education major and musician myself I feel as though it has helped me learn to balance different aspects of my life.  At our school we used music practically every day in the classroom, which I think is the way it should be,” said Gillam.

About three years later, I’m still teaching myself guitar, there have been definite improvements, but I’ll be the first to tell you I am no Jimi Hendrix. Ever since being at college though, I don’t know what I would do if I didn’t have my guitar. It’s what I go to when I think I can’t take any more tests or projects. When I feel as though the lack of sleep is slowly taking years off my life, I make sure I find time for music. The presence of music is something that is constant from century to century. The existence of it is vital, and I strongly encourage everyone to pick up an instrument. The discipline and sense of achievement you gain through playing an instrument is irreplaceable.

Sample 2-The Rotunda

August 2nd

By Michelle Moodhe

August 2nd was a date that had been burned into my mind since January.  No, it wasn’t my birthday or anyone else’s birthday that I had to remember.  It wasn’t a wedding date or my parent’s anniversary.  It was the day I thought I would meet Taylor Swift.  There was no good reason why I thought I was going to meet her. I hadn’t won meet-n-greet passes or somehow acquired pit passes. Nope, it was a crazy dream that I thought I could make come true on my own accord.

Taylor Swift, August 2nd at the Verizon Center in the nation’s capital, Washington D.C. Now this wasn’t my first time seeing T-Swift.  I had the privilege of attending last year’s sold out concert that was also in D.C.  Last year’s seats were “ok,” if we are being generous with the word.  The great thing about those seats was I didn’t have to hold my glow-in-the-dark sign the whole concert.  I didn’t have to hold my sign because I was in section 400, row Z, meaning the wall was directly behind me.  Yep, gotta love the nose bleeds.  But this year was going to be different. My ticket stub did not say “Section 400” it didn’t even say “Section 200.” In huge bold letters, it read “Section 100 Row D.” Goodbye nose bleeds, and hello Taylor.

I had been working at my internship all summer at an ABC news station affiliate in D.C.. On the day of the concert, I could not even handle how excited I was.  Riding the metro into work, I kept thinking what if Taylor walks onto the metro right now? What the heck would I say if I could manage to say anything at all?  I had to stop, I had to focus, I was going to my grown-up job to do things that were actually important to my future.  After the longest five hours of my life, I bolted to the metro as I left my internship for the afternoon; everyone knew I was going to the concert that night so they let me out early.

I went home and got my gear.  Yes, there was gear. My friend, Katie, and her two sisters and my roommate Mandy had gone all out for this concert.  We had foam fingers with Christmas lights on them, signs with glow-in-the-dark paint on them plus more lights.  Even our t-shirts glowed.  Our mission was to have Taylor see us and invite us to the T-Party (after party) that only the craziest fans get to attend. Once we got to the Verizon Center, the place was filled with 13,000 “fearless” fans.  This was going to be epic.

The opening acts had finished and the crowd went wild.  For a solid 3 minutes non-stop the crowd started chanting, “Taylor, Taylor, Taylor!” Lights, cameras flashed and action, Taylor appeared on stage in her sparkly gold dress as she ran from side to side.  Sparks literally flew halfway through her latest hit song, “Sparks Fly.”  The theatrics of this show honestly transformed a simple concert into a full musical with characters, wardrobe changes, set changes, pyrotechnics, dancers and acrobats.  One thing you can be sure of when attending a Taylor Swift concert is that you get the most out of your money.

The concert never slowed down from song to song. One of my favorite performances was “Speak Now,” and for those who don’t know it’s a song about speaking up at a wedding.  Naturally, the scene was set and wedding bells rang as a bridezilla walked down the aisle.  Taylor and her three backup singers lined up and danced to their choreographed 1950s doo-wop routine.  After the song Taylor ran into the crowd. At this moment, I knew it was my one chance to meet her.  I literally pummeled my way through 30 people and reached the railing of the seats. But alas I did not get to personally meet her. Unfortunately I was not at the concert where she laid down some Eminem lyrics, but it was still epic.

Song after song, scene after scene, the show literally blew my mind.  Taylor’s vocal abilities have improved since the last time I saw her, which is something I don’t like to admit.  Taylor is a great song writer, but does not have the strongest voice. At this concert, I didn’t hear one sour note.  The greatest thing about attending a Taylor Swift concert is that you can look to your right and look to your left and you feel like you have a connection with every single person in that arena. You know that every person out there is singing to someone. Someone who has done them wrong or put them down.  Someone who has loved and lost or someone who is a devoted fan.  That’s what this concert meant to me and I think many others.  So I didn’t meet Taylor. I know, no happy ending with that. But you know what they say, “there’s always next year.”

Sample 3-The Rotunda

How to throw a Holiday Party: Dorm Room Style

By Michelle Moodhe

The Holiday Tree has been lit, the bows and tinsel have been hung, which can only mean that the Christmas season has arrived.   At Longwood we are reminded by these traditions every December.  But at college it’s easy to forget what time of year it is, because of classes and finals take up so much time.  Many students can’t wait to go home for winter break, and for others, they want to start the festivities early.  For those who do, there are few simple ways to turn a dorm room into a hotspot for hosting a holiday party.

The first thing that every good holiday party needs is decorations.  As a college student, a lot of the decorations are recommended to be purchased at the local Dollar Tree.  Tinsel, lights, stockings for non-existent fire places, are all a must if bought at the Dollar Tree or Dollar General.  But for the more advanced party throwers, an artificial Christmas tree equipped with colored lights and ornaments is to be expected at such a party.  Keep in mind many of these decorations are probably a fire hazard, so take them down before the fire marshal comes around for inspection

Now that the party visually looks inviting, invite some guests.  Guests not only serve for a socializing purpose but as personal caterers.  This is college, so, to make this party affordable, make each guest bring in some sort of dish as their ticket in. The more guests that come, the more food there will be.  Make the friend who still has 120 Longwood dollars left bring the more expensive hors d’oeuvres like the cheese, crackers and pepperoni. Make the friends who live in the dorms with a working stove bring the cookies.   Hot chocolate (marshmallows optional) can always be found at the dining hall, so save that money for laundry.  And for that one creative friend homemade specialties are always a big hit. Now that there are people to look at the decorations and food to draw them in, entertainment is vital in keeping them there.

Having activities or some form of entertainment planned will keep the night running along smoothly, and ultimately give guests a reason to stay once all the food is gone.  Setting the right atmosphere is very important, so find the 24 hour Christmas radio station for that holiday music.  Karaoke is always fun at any party.  What kind of holiday party would it be if there was no Santa?  So, start scouting now, to find someone willing to dress up as Santa. And to make a few extra bucks, charge people to get their picture taken with him.  This is college; laundry money has to come from somewhere, so while throwing this party get a few free washes out of it. A cookie station is can provide hours, or maybe, minutes of fun for guests.  Get some red and green icing, some sprinkles and now you have your very own “create your own cookie bar”.

With these few tips, the perfect Christmas party, college style, is possible. Finals are coming; everyone could use a holiday party to relax beforehand.  The main idea to keep in mind when throwing this party is making it affordable.   A lot of friends, food and a crowded dorm room, is all that is needed for an unforgettable party.

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