My parents wanted me to learn the piano. No matter how much I protested, they
eventually found and hired a tutor to coach my playing.
From then on, a
regular lesson schedule was implemented with the tutor, Mr Peterson, coming in
on Friday afternoons at around three o'clock. This was my daily nap time, and I
was always grumbling about having to forgo
it every Friday. The tutor was very strict in the first few months, forcing me
to repeat a problematic piece several times until he was satisfied. Mr Peterson
was a good tutor, despite his strictness, and his explanations were very clear
and simple. Soon, I could play several tunes adequately, and Mr Peterson decided
to sign me up for a music examination.
The examination was about eight months away, a long time to me, but Mr
Peterson made me work hard, giving me increasingly difficult pieces. I could not
understand why I was being made to practise so hard. Every time I protested, my
tutor told me very firmly that I was to strive to achieve success. Naturally, I
was forced to continue struggling with increasingly complex chord progressions
and often felt deep-seated resentment towards the glossy piano that sat in our
living room. Towards the fourth month, however, things began to change. Mr
Peterson began to skip lessons occasionally, and when he did turn up, he was
very often rather late. I was usually much too frustrated to take notice of the
dark circles growing around his eyes.
One day, he asked me to play two examination pieces, which I grudgingly did.
I started with the first one, nervously pushing at the keys with my fingers. I
ended up missing several chords and hitting the wrong keys, and stopped at the
end in anticipation of a scolding. Nothing. Without looking at Mr Peterson, I
began to repeat the first piece, certain that he wanted me to. This time, my
fingers flowed easily over the keyboard, and I made no mistakes. However, Mr
Peterson remained absolutely silent. I found it very strange, since he was
usually either scolding me or praising me. After a moment, I launched into the
second piece. As I was playing it, I noticed him nodding out of the corner of my
eye. I assumed that he was acknowledging my skilful playing and I played on,
heartened. Gradually, however, the nods became more and more pronounced, and my
hands began to waver. Finally, Mr Peterson gave a rough grunt, and I jumped
slightly. This was too much for me, and I turned to look at my tutor. He was
bent over the keys, fast asleep.
I stared at his half-open mouth, mesmerized,
but eventually snapped out of it. Turning back to the musical sheet, I slowly
lifted my hands and began playing the second piece from the beginning. I kept
glancing round at him and could see that Mr Peterson was continuing to enjoy his
nap. It was a warm afternoon, and the more I looked at him, the sleepier I
became. Soon, my hands began to slow, and I fell into a deep
slumber. Suddenly, someone was tugging at my
sleeve, and I sat upright, rubbing my eyes vigorously. "You must be tired," my
tutor said. "You fell asleep during the lesson. Nobody falls asleep during a
music lesson, understand ?"
I was tempted to tell him what I had seen, but I did not want him to tell
Mother that I had fallen asleep, so I obediently echoed, "Yes, Mr Peterson.
Nobody falls asleep during a music lesson."