Only four months till graduation and if Allen, trumpet player par excellence, doesn’t pass his piano proficiency exam there will be no walk across the stage in his immediate future. Enter Megan, talented pianist and the premier piano tutor on campus. After a rocky start, Megan discovers that trumpet players are not all horn dogs. Some of them are even virgins! It turns out that tutors can teach more than music.
I was in the zone. But now there was a disturbance in my zone. What the hell? Somebody was knocking on my practice room door. When I was in the zone I lost track of time, so the knock was probably Kira, the singer who had this room after me. I grabbed up my music and flung open the door.
“I’m sorry, Kira, I lost track… You’re not Kira.”
“No, I’m Allen.”
“Well, Allen, what part of do not disturb do you not understand?” I asked, stabbing my finger on the sign I always taped to the door when I was using the practice room.
“Sorry. Are you Megan?”
“I am. Why did you interrupt my practice?”
By this time I had insinuated every inch of my five feet and four inches into this guy’s personal space and was close enough to look up his nose.
”That’s what I thought. Now go away and let me practice.”
I turned to go back to my room but Allen found his voice and said, “Mr. Reed told me to come find you. He said you could help me.”
Hearing the name got my attention. Returning to Allen’s personal space I asked, “How am I supposed to do that?”
Without speaking a word, Allen handed me a piece of paper. It was a piano tutoring assignment from James Reed, one of our piano instructors. According to the form, Allen had not yet passed his piano proficiency exam. It also said he was a senior and needed to pass the exam or he would not be able to graduate which was supposed to happen in four months.
“Let me get this straight. You’re a second semester senior and you still haven’t passed your piano proficiency exam?”
“Why not? You were supposed to do that your freshman year.”
“I wasn’t here for my freshman year. I transferred here for my junior and senior years and I’ve taken the test three times but haven’t been able to pass it.”
“What’s the problem? It’s so easy even the freshmen pass it on the first go round.”
“I’m busy and it’s hard to find time to practice. To keep my scholarship I have to carry a full load every semester, then I had marching band in the fall and I play in the university orchestra and jazz band year round.”
My condemnation of the guy softened a little. I did, indeed, know what he was going through. I didn’t have to do marching band or all those ensembles but I did have to play accompaniment for a lot of lessons and had accompanied three full voice recitals back in the fall.
Trying to backtrack a little on my harsh beginning, I asked, “What’s your instrument, Allen?”
“Trumpet,” he said without any hesitation and with a whole lot of enthusiasm.
There it is. I had yet to meet a trumpet player who could discipline himself to sit on a piano bench long enough to do more that the bare minimum required to pass the proficiency.
“Professor Reed says you’re the best piano tutor on campus.”
“That’s kind of him.”
Looking back to the tutor assignment form I saw that Mr. Reed wanted me to supervise Allen’s practice time three days per week.
“Okay, trumpet player, when is your assigned practice time?”
Looking a little sheepish, he replied, “I squeeze it in when I have time around everything else.”
“That’s the first problem we’re going to fix.”
I rummaged inside my music bag and brought out a sheet of paper containing my schedule grid.
“Here’s my schedule. Let’s see when we can get together.”
After a bit of negotiating, we added three half-hour practice sessions to open slots in my schedule then exchanged email addresses and phone numbers. I told Allen that I would find a room we could use and email the number to him. As he took off, I saw Kira walking down the hall. Practice time was over.