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Chapter Three

It was eight A.M. in the morning; A whole hour until the first lessons started. Clarie and Leo were in the practice hall with the others. The hall was a thick-walled room to prevent the reverberation of music being played. Echoes played their part in reducing the quality of music.

Marie was propped on a stool, cleaning her flute’s mouthpiece. James was doing something similar by examining one of his many mouthpieces.

The hall was silent apart from the hushed hum of someone trying out a trumpet.

“So... Today, isn’t it?” Clarie asked, blowing at the dust between her violin strings. Leo nodded, clicking his tongue. He was going to appeal to master Rutherford today, probably even before lessons kicked off this morning.

The loud bellow of a saxophone soon filled the room making everyone look towards the direction of the music.

The tall dark haired man continued to play his sax like no one was watching. His tie was undone and was lazily hung around his neck as he played to his heart’s content.

“Show off,” James muttered, returning his concentration to his mouthpieces.

“He’s pretty good, but he sure is vain about it,” Marie said, shaking her head. The sax player was Kenneth, a well-known saxophonist in the college.

The bell soon went, signaling the start of a new class period. The students packed up their instruments before heading their separate ways.

Leonardo headed for Mr. Rutherford’s study hall, he was going to make his request today.

“Good morning,” he muttered, pushing the door of class 72 open. Leo’s heart fell when he noticed the master didn’t acknowledge him by looking up but continued reading from the paper he was holding.

Leo took the silence as a notion to come in so he slipped into the room through the door before heading over to stand in front of the master’s desk.

“So I was wondering...” Leo trailed, looking down at the floor. The master hadn’t yet acknowledged his presence and he found that worrisome.

“The last time I came around, I wanted to say something,” Leo continued, running his finger along the edge of the desk. He hadn’t taken a seat yet. He worried doing so without an offer might be considered rude.

Mr. Rutherford finally nodded, flipping a page of the newspaper. Leo frowned, not knowing if the nod was for him or the paper.

“I want to become a student of yours...” Leo trailed. Master Rutherford looked up, giving Leo a steady gaze.

“When did you decide on this?” he asked, looking back down at his paper. He had expected to convince the kid to be no problem at all.

“When I heard your student Al play,” Leo said, muttering his answer.

Master Rutherford nodded before motioning Leo towards the free seat. Leo took the seat, muttering a small thanks.

“I’ll tell you what,” Master Rutherford started, taking a stray pen from his unorganized table. Leo watched with curiosity as the master wrote a brief note on a stray piece of paper.

“I’ll let you take this to the admin,” Mr. Rutherford started, pushing the paper towards Leo. Leo looked down at the piece of paper, noticing a few words in the swirly handwriting that caught his attention. Mostly the words ‘Approved’, ‘Change’ and ‘department’.

“I’ll let you take this down to the admin if you do me a favor.” Master Rutherford finished, pulling the paper that Leo had already reached out to swipe out of his reach.

“What do I have to do?” Leo asked, wondering what in the world he’d have to do to become the Master’s student.

“I need help,” the master said, folding his hands. “You know my student Alejandro already don’t you?” Leo nodded at the master’s words, not sure where this conversation was leading to.

“You see he has a problem with speed and general flow when it comes to playing,” the master said, making Leo’s brows knit in confusion. The master pushed back a strand of stray hair from his forehead before continuing to address Leonardo. “Not that I’ll want to change all of that for the world, the messiness sort of makes his music.” The master admitted, giving Leo a subtle gaze.

“The things is, no one has ever been able to keep up with him. Heavens, I can barely follow him halfway through a piece,” the master admitted gesturing to himself. Leo nodded, his mind still wondering what this had to do with him. A bell chimed, indicating the change in periods. The sound of students and laughter echoed through the window as master Rutherford continued to speak.

“But you,” He started, pointing at Leo with his surprisingly well-manicured fingernail, “you can keep up, you compensate for his mistakes, you compliment his playing,” The master said as Leo followed his hand gestures.

Leo ran a hand through his blond hair, not quite sure what to make of the information. Sure he’d changed the way he would normally have played when he and Alejandro were paired, but he figured anyone could do that.

“I personally think Alejandro would do best as a Solo performer,” the master continued, letting out a low sigh, “but he insists in chasing a career in an orchestra,” the master finished, sighing to himself.

“Now that’s where the problem lies, he simply can’t play with people,” the master argued, a hint of irritation in his tone. Leo guessed the master and his student had certainty argued over this a time too many.

“But,” The master started, taking up a pen and twirling it between his thumb and index fingers, “if he learned to properly play with you, that’ll be a start.”

“I promise to teach you conducting if you promise to aid Alejandro. At least give him a decent amount of your time,” The master said, Laying the ground rules as she slouched into his seat.

“I don’t know...” Leo trailed, wondering what a ‘decent’ amount of his time implied. He liked his free time and he wasn’t sure he wanted to part with it so willingly.

“Please,” the teacher pleaded, “I’ve been teaching disabled students all my life but Al happens to be the most complex. I certainly can’t do this alone.” The master pleaded, making Leo cast his gaze down at the change of department permission slip. He wanted to solely concentrate on conducting, but what was wrong with brushing up his piano playing skills by the side?

“Okay,” Leo said as he watched the master release the slip to him.

“Good, I guess you’ll have to go pick up your new schedule then,” the master pointed out, bidding Leo farewell.

Leo got up soon after, voicing his thanks before exiting the room. He wondered about the hallway for a while before spotting Marie and James who were getting ready for their next lessons.

“Well?” Marie asked, earning a big grin from Leo. Leo flashed the change of department permission slip like it was a lottery ticket that miraculously won. Marie laughed, rolling her eyes at his silliness.

“Well, Claire’s going to be devastated,” Marie pointed out, making the trio laugh.

Leo left them soon after so they could tune their instruments and leave for their class. He headed to the main admin office, handing the slip to who seemed to be in charge.

“Well, let’s see how long you’ll last,” The lady said with a sigh as she read through the slip. Leo smiled at her. It was obvious she regarded him as a regular customer.

“It’s my last year, I promise they’ll be no more changing of departments,” Leo said, holding his right hand to his chest in a mock pledge.

The woman smiled at him, handing him his new schedule.

“Good luck,” she chirped as he took the schedule from her and exited the office with a grin.

Leo was relieved, he could finally learn to conduct as he wanted to.

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