What work of art, music, science, mathematics, or literature has surprised, unsettled, or challenged you, and in what way? (~250 words)
When I first looked at Brahms’ Cello Sonata in e minor, I remember thinking disappointedly, “Oh, this is just another easy piece—why can’t I do something harder?” I relished the intensity of the concertos I’ve played, their scintillating rhythms, and the rapid string-crossing. This sonata, however, was the exact opposite of them: The rhythms were much easier to learn and the fingerboard shifts stayed mostly in the first and second positions, which are not as difficult as the ones in concertos. But I think I was too hasty in dismissing Brahms’ sonata. Because the andante tempo forced me to slow down, I needed to shape each note, carefully focusing on creating nuances and emotions. I guess fast concertos are, in some sense, easier to perform than slower pieces because their allegro speeds and more difficult technical skills naturally produce excitement; it’s more entertaining to watch a performer smoothly execute a fast passage than a slower one. From this piece, I’ve not only learned how to shape slower songs and be more thoughtful in my music, but also how to stop and “smell the roses” along the way. I like to have a goal in mind and assiduously work towards it, rather than simply taking my time. Referring to my point – the sonata taught me to take things in stride, absorb what I learn, and fully live in the present.