A French Song in New York(4)

By: Anna Adams

“A student film director maybe?” Jazmine suggested, thinking aloud. “Any of you know one of those?”

“My friends are all future doctors,” Rachel sighed.

“Unlike you,” Haze snarled.

“I can get you free flu shots,” Rachel added, ignoring Haze’s jab. “That’s about it.”

“I don’t have that many friends,” Tatiana shrugged.

“Go figure.” Haze slumped into her seat. Tatiana threw an empty tea bag at her. It landed on Haze’s lap and she brushed it off with a lazy hand.

“Didn’t you used to date that actor? That really handsome guy who played a vampire?” Tatiana tapped her forehead, searching the depths of her memory for a name that inexplicably escaped her. “Got it! Jason Taylor. He was your boyfriend. You’re one lucky girl.”

“No. No way!” Jazmine cried out. “I can’t contact him. He hates me now. I’m not-I can’t ask him for this huge favor. Just picture this. ‘Hi there, Jason. I broke your heart years ago, but hey why don’t you give me Christopher Nolan’s number?’ Jazmine squeezed her sides anxiously. “Ugh, he’ll hang up before I even have time to say hi.”

“You don’t have to ask him to introduce you to a big shot director,” Rachel said. “All you have to ask him is if he has any good film students among his friends. And explain that it could be an experience for that person. Great publicity.”

Jazmine took a sip from her cappuccino. She tapped her cup with frenzy.

“I guess I could. If I make it sound like I’m doing him a favor as well. I’ll do it. Yup. Mm-hmm. No matter that it’ll cost me an enormous amount of pride. I’ll do it. For the band. But I’ll need backup if he agrees to meet with me,” she decided. “I need Maude.”

Chapter 3

MAUDE HAD RECEIVED lots of praise during her career. Not only did she love it, she’d grown used to it.

Extraordinary singer. Gifted pianist. Astute marketer.

Maude was also the object of much judgment.

Too commercial. Too technical. Too complex.

She no longer feared criticism, but she did loathe it.

‘Bad teacher’ was never included in the long list of negative comments she habitually received.

Yet, as she faced Grace Heaton that morning in the beautiful Morningside theater in which she had spent so many hours with Cordelia Tragent, Maude knew those would be the next words that came out of Grace’s mouth.

“You’re the worst teacher ever! Ever!” Grace shrieked.

The words echoed around the empty theater until Maude was certain they would awaken the building’s oldest dormant ghosts.

“You’re not listening to anything I say. Not a thing! How do you expect to make any progress if we don’t work on your breathing? How do you expect to hold a note? And if we don’t work on elocution, nobody will ever understand what you’re singing.”

“I sound worse, not better!” Grace gritted her teeth. Her face was blanched with rage. Her blue eyes threw lightning as she added, “You’re not teaching me to sing. You’re teaching me how not to sing.”

“That’s how you’ll feel at first. But believe me, there’s a difference between just sounding pretty and actually sounding beautiful, thanks to the correct singing methods.”

“I prefer how I used to sing,” Grace replied staunchly. “I want a professional.” She marched across the stage.

“This is our first lesson!”

“How am I supposed to trust you? You disappeared for weeks!”

Maude, taken aback by the accusation, observed her student. Grace was panicked. She had no parents to take care of her. It was natural that she had felt abandoned while Maude was away.

“I was touring,” Maude argued patiently. “And I sent you plenty of emails and articles to help you prepare for our first lesson, but you never answered.”

“What could I have possibly answered to The Voice and its Organs. Really, such interesting literature you sent me to read during summer break. It’s obvious you’ve never even had another student before I came along.”

Doubt seeped into Maude’s spirit. The fear that inhabited her resurfaced. Could she be a good teacher?

Ms. Tragent had not only taught her, she had helped her become a better person.

It seemed that all she was succeeding in doing with Grace was making her angry and withdrawn.

“I may not be an experienced teacher, but I’ve been a student for a long time. Ms. Tragent taught me all of this.” Maude went to the Bösendorfer piano and sat on the stool her teacher had a fondness for.