BY CHAYA SANDLER
Kayla has her job interview and is about to take her practical exam in music. All her marks rest on it and it’s a very personal piece. She feels she must prove her talent and constantly succeed.
This was a solo piece and it was the most precious part of my music. The flute expresses my soul. All my music does, but the flute even more so. I hate playing for anyone. It’s baring my soul, sharing my mind, giving over a little piece of myself, and this was the biggest part of myself I had ever put into my music. Everything was riding on this one. The mark I would get for it would swing my final mark. If I did well, it was a big advantage, but if I failed…I may as well not study for the exam. This was my last composition piece. After this I get my final marks for the practical.
The bell rang.
This was it, the moment of truth with so much at stake. And it had arrived.
Do you know how your heart-beat increases steadily and yet slows at the same time? How your palms get all sweaty and you need to keep wiping them, and it’s all totally ridiculous because you know your stuff, you do, and you know you’re going to do well? But tell that to your heart and mind as they compete to see who can be the most annoying part of your anatomy. It’s as if they’re testing you: “So…you think we’re gonna let you down? Hmm…will we?” You have to do your best to rein them both in and slow your heart down whilst speeding up your brain.
It’s the pressure, but I won’t let it get to me, I can’t let it get to me.
The examiner is a rather unimpressive- looking man for all the weight he carries. He’s a small balding man with a rather jovial air about him, although his expression makes it seem as though he is laughing at the world. He was standing there all nonchalantly as if he wasn’t like G-d on the day of Judgement, holding my destiny in his wrinkly hands. It’s not up to him, it’s up to G-d. Don’t let it distract you, just pray hard and play well.
With a deep breath I began and all the world melted away. I became one with the music and that’s all there was in the world, the notes and I – carefully drawing them out and controlling them at will. I was the puppet master, making the notes dance as I bid, and at one and the same time I was a slave to them, following their patterns and twisting to their tune. It’s very intense.
As I played, I allowed my eyes to wander and in a detached sort of way I noticed the examiner’s reaction. He seemed pleased. I couldn’t look at him, couldn’t watch his face, couldn’t bear to see those to whom I bared my soul. Yet I had to, had to know what they thought, had to know the judgement.
And the music, as all music must, soared to a crescendo and left me.
I felt physically drained. My shoulders were heavy and my mind wasn’t clear – it was all fuzzy and hazy. I nodded limply and bid adieu to the examiner and to my teacher and promptly walked straight into Abby and Rachel, who were waiting outside for me.
“Kayla!! How did it go? It sounded heavenly!! You were unbelievable – well done!!”
“You talk in way too many exclamation marks ,Rachel.”
“You can never over-punctuate! My drama teacher always tells us we can never be overdramatic and it’s better to over-act than under-act!”
“Whatever. I’m exhausted, and I don’t even know why. Maybe it’s all the adrenaline leaving me. I have the rest of the day off. I’m going home and I’ll crash on my bed for a bit.”
On the tube I pulled out my chocolate bar. I eat one before an exam and one after an exam. I swear by the power of chocolate, but she is a tricky mistress, for if you engage in her wyles too much, she will never leave you – literally. Calories are such a pain to get rid of.
My mother, knowing about my chocolate habit, had left me some lunch for a post-exam treat. It included a broccoli smoothie. Seriously?? I almost hate her health fad as much as I hate mornings. But not quite. I’m not a morning person.
I don’t have the luxury of relaxing all afternoon because I have coursework that won’t write itself and a music theory exam tomorrow that won’t study for itself. Yawn. At least the rest of lunch was tasty – and surprisingly enough, the tentatively tasted smoothie actually tasted ok. But I still will never make my kids smoothies. Unless it’s banana chocolate.
I sat down to tackle the wonders of bio-chemistry and the problems of Ireland in the 19th century. Good thing I’m a night person.
Long hot showers solve half of mankind’s problems and a decent night’s sleep takes care of the other half. Unfortunately I had time for neither. I tried to placate myself and promised myself that tomorrow night I would have a really long, boiling hot shower and get to sleep really early. I doubted myself. I’m not sure what the therapists would make of me arguing with myself and compromising. But Abby is the one taking psychology and I don’t plan to tell her this….
I also have been too busy to spend time with my friends this past week. I know it’s only Tuesday, but the days slip away and the nights drag by and suddenly you turn around and time has slipped through your fingers. So you have to make the most of every day.
I resolve to deal with all my problems in the morning and then remind myself that I am not a morning person by any stretch of the imagination. Do you ever want to slap yourself?
Tomorrow is the exam and I’ll get my mark back, I don’t know what to do if I fail. I’ve never failed before. I don’t think I can handle it. But there’s a foreboding that I just can’t push away. There’s a storm coming, I can feel it. But I don’t like to get wet.