“Well, Estelle, it seems that you have a very natural talent. Very few music students choose to study both piano and vocals their senior year. Seeing as you also compose your own pieces, I would think that studying two music fields on top of that would result in very little time for a social life. Are you sure you want to take this on?”
“I am absolutely certain, Mr. Kalypso.”
Mr. Kalypso was the head of the school system's music department, and he was one of my three favorite teachers; the other two being Mrs. Perturb and my creative writing teacher Ms. Scott. He made something as seemingly boring as music theory really fun, he let his students learn whatever genre of music they wanted to learn, he encouraged everyone to compose their own music and he didn't care if we ate in class so long as we cleaned up. He was the coolest music teacher anyone could ever have.
"I don’t want you to overload yourself. A girl your age should be out having fun with her friends, going on dates, enjoying life before dedicating most of her time to a job and/or a family."
I looked down at my portfolio full of every finished musical piece I had composed since the beginning of middle school. I already knew then that I wanted to dedicate my life to music. It made me happy and gave me a way of self expression that a friend group could never give me. I wish I could have explained to him right then and there that I wasn't like the other girls at school, but he wouldn't have understood. He would have immediately asked me why I thought that about myself and my reasoning would have gone far beyond anything I wanted another person knowing. Instead, I just looked back up at him and said,
"Piano makes me happy. My friends and family know that, and they've always been supportive of me and my love of music. I think missing out on social events is a small price to pay for the opportunity that my studies will give me in the future. We all have to make sacrifices to reach our goals...and this is mine."
He smiled solemnly.
"I always thought you were wise beyond your years. You're more likely to get a job in entertainment if you prove how dedicated you are. Your willingness to compromise your free time for the sake of writing and practice time will not be ignored by the Career Council. Make sure you let them know that in your interview this afternoon."
"I will, sir."
I stacked my papers back up and placed them gently in my portfolio, walking towards the door.
"Oh, and Estelle?"
I whipped my head back around to look at him.
"I know this is your year of nearly complete independent study, and we will only see each other a couple of times throughout, so I just wanted to say now...good luck, and I know you can knock their socks off if you show them half the talent you've shown me. And I almost forgot..."
He reached into the right pocket of his jacket and pulled out a brand new key on a key chain in the shape of a quarter music note.
"I want you to have the key to my classroom. I know it's your favorite place to think and compose, so consider this space yours as much as mine. It's safe to say that you are going to become a beloved musician in the community soon, so let me be the first to welcome you, somewhat prematurely, to the entertainment team."
I beamed back at him as I took the key from his hand, feeling a sudden surge of gratefulness and pride at his words.
"Thank you. That really means a lot. I'll be thinking about that during my interview today and for the rest of the year until I've secured that entertainment job. I won't let you down, I promise."
I slipped the key into the inside pocket of my school blazer.
"I know you won't Estelle. Have a good rest of your week and until I see you again."
"Same to you, sir."
I took one last look around the classroom that would soon partially become my practice space before shutting the door behind me with an air of finality.
And with that, I was on my way to one of the most important interviews of my life.