Chapter 16

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 “Your fingers are numbered from one to five, your thumb being number one,” Maude explained. “Hand position is essential. Don’t slouch your fingers like that. Imagine you’re holding a ball. Lower your wrist,” Maude indicated gently.

Maude was giving an impatient Ben his first piano lesson.

They were both seated on the stool in front of her white Yamaha piano, and Ben was trying his hardest not to press all the keys at once.

“Say, Maude, when will I be able to play Beethoven and Chopin like you?”

“You’ll need a lot of practice, Ben. It won’t happen overnight.”

Ben sighed.

“What’s wrong?” Maude asked concerned.

“No instrument seems to suit me,” Ben explained.

“You haven’t tried enough instruments to give up.”

“My sisters were instantly drawn to the instruments they chose, almost like they were magically drawn to them. They mastered their instruments in no time.”

“That may be. However, for us mere mortals, it takes time and a lot of practice. You still have months to make your choice.”

“What if I don’t find the right instrument?”

“I’m sure your parents won’t mind if you choose an instrument after twelve. Your choice mustn’t keep you from loving other instruments. Take Victoria for example. She plays the djembe and a number of other percussions.”

“I want to feel the way you feel about piano. Your eyes light up every time you spot a piano, and you spend hours on this stool. When did you start playing?”

“During my eleventh year,” Maude mused. “It’s funny. I guess I followed your tradition without even knowing it. I didn’t have access to many other instruments except for the recorder, which is the only instrument we learned to play at school in France. You’re lucky, Ben.”

Ben, shoulders drooped. He didn’t seem to think he was so lucky.

“Maybe you should broaden your search,” Maude suggested. “You’ve only tried instruments you already know. The world is a big place. You should try something completely new, without inhibitions or preconceived ideas.”

Ben’s eyes lit up suddenly, and he jumped off the stool.

“Thanks, Maude!” he cried, hugging her tight.

 “What about that piano lesson?” she called out as he made a beeline for the door.

“No need!” he answered.

Maude sighed. She wasn’t much of a teacher anyway. For a minute there, she thought she sounded uncommonly like a younger version of Ms. Tragent.

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