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author's note: hi yes hello, this is a disclaimer to say any and all inaccuracies pertaining to the music conservatory life and music composition in general is due to my ignorance alone. please feel free to critique/bestow me proper knowledge in my dms

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When you think of demons, how do you imagine it?

For some, it's an inhumane monster terrorizing those who hold a sin against divine law. For others, it's an intangible source of all-consumming misery and distraught. Surely it's the emotion of grief...hatred...and anger, balled up into a metaphysical form that shapes the worst imaginable evils in a person's heart.

For Brett, it's a self-imposed inner demon at work, gnawing at his mind and ridding him of any last respectable muse from his soul.

*

Brett rubs his temples as the headache he had held onto since this morning started acting up again. A video recording was playing in the background from his laptop: Tchaikovsky - Symphony No. 6 "Pathétique" in B minor, Op. 74. The conductor, Herbert von Karajan, leading at the forefront of the orchestra. Brett taps his fingers along his desk in time with the beat, but there's no point to it, the pounding in his head is completely messing up his rhythm. Brett looks down to see the blank sheet music he's working on is still, well, blank. Save for the treble clefs on the staves, Brett hasn't even set the time signature yet and that's just...

Brett clicks his tongue.

He hasn't been getting any inspiration lately and he's wondering if he's starting to lose his touch. The garbage can next to him is filled to the brim with scrapped and unfinished composition. It's not good enough. It's not right. The love he has for classical music still holds strong, but his head has been more with the clouds instead of with Mahler or Brahms. His focus is off. He's not where he should be. What has he accomplished up 'till now, if anything at all?

Speaking of which...

Brett taps the spacebar and pauses the video before going onto a new tab. He pulls up the school website and clicks around until he gets to his class roster, scrolling down the list until he gets to a specific name that's been nipping on his mind for the past few weeks: Yu Fong Lee. A second year violinist who has shown the most potential with his musicianship and honed technical skills on his instrument. His current level of ability surpasses his peers by a fair amount and Brett would have easily made him first chair, if not for the fact that his performance dramatically dropped to the bare minimum, sometimes even less, since the third week of the semester. Even when Brett pulls the kid aside and tries to approach the subject, Brett is only met with a shrug and a vague excuse that Brett can't be bothered to care about. If a student decides to lose themselves like this, then it's honestly none of Brett's business and if Brett has his way, he would've kicked them out of his orchestra immediately. He has more things to worry about than kids who don't take their education seriously. He's not a fucking babysitter.

Brett says as much, under his breath, when he sees an email from the dean asking him to do exactly that:

Hello Professor Yang,

I hope all has been well. I've been meaning to talk to you about a certain matter regarding a particular student [...]

The kid belonged to some rich family who's concerned about their son and, quite apparently, the dean's scared the kid might drop out at any point along with their charitable scholarship donations. Not his problem, Brett thinks again, but he doesn't have much choice in the matter if he's being forced to deal with it in this way. It wouldn't have bothered Brett nearly as much if he didn't see the latter half of the email:

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