It's time once again for another Write...Edit...Publish challenge. This month's musical prompt is Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata. If you'd like to join in, feel free to visit the WEP site!
At first, I wasn't certain how to tackle the prompt this month. I've been busy getting my kids rady to go back to school next week, so that's had my mind preoccupied. Then I got an email from the school district, and the contents of that email provided me with the inspiration I needed.
This wasn't an instance of being joyfully inspired. In fact, the email left me feeling sad and worried. The United States has been struggling with a shortage of teachers over the past few years, but my children hadn't really felt the effects of that shortage like the will be this year. My two boys are in middle school, and this year they have yet to find a science teacher and a band director. They plan on having a long-term substitute teach science until they can find someone permanent, but who knows how long that will be? The position has already been open and advertised for months. As for the band director, there is no real solution. The school is trying to find people willing to teach some private lessons for interested students, and they're still searching for someone to fill the job. As of now, though, there will be no band. My oldest plays the saxophone, and my other son plays the drums. They were so excited to start learning how to play, and they enjoyed playing music with their bandmates. Now they're disappointed that's not happening this year. I'm hoping the school finds someone so they can start band back up partway through the school year, but with the number of teaching positions left unfilled across my state right now, it's feeling bleak.
Teachers are so important, and they have such a tough job. We need to find a way to draw more people to this vital profession and to keep them in it. So much of the future depends on it.
Anyway, thank you for tolerating my brief rant. I hope you enjoy this piece.
The tinkling of a piano cut through the air. The high, trilling notes floated down the hallway on the warm August breeze.
Lorraine knew she should simply return to study hall, but surely the teacher wouldn’t care too much if she took another minute or two longer to return from her restroom break? She clutched the hall pass in her hand as she let her feet carry her the wrong way down the hall.
As she approached, the musical sounds paused briefly. She also halted in her tracks for a moment, waiting to see if the unknown piano player would continue.
The notes began again, haltingly, and an octave lower than they had previously been. The melody formed with each note played, and while the execution was hesitant and awkward, she soon recognized the song. Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata. She’d know it anywhere. Beethoven used to play in the background while her mother sat on their front porch, painting landscapes to her heart’s content. Painting was her favorite hobby for many years, and she used music to guide the strokes of her brush and the colors she selected.
Her mother hadn’t painted in more than a year. Financial strain drove her to work longer hours, and she no longer had the time. And when she did have a spare hour or two, she hadn’t the inspiration.
Unfortunately, Lorraine knew what it felt like to lose an artistic outlet. The music room should have been utterly silent during this hour, hence why she was drawn to the unexpected melodies. She crept forward and, reaching the door, peered inside.
She didn’t know who she expected to find, but she was still surprised to see Henry Phipps. He hunched over the piano, guiding his fingers across the keys, the depth and beauty of the notes discordant with his torn, faded t-shirt. His shaggy blond hair fell into his face as he played, and Lorraine wondered how in the world that didn’t interfere with his ability to read the music.
An inharmonious sound marred the moment as Henry’s fingers faltered. He paused to compose himself, and Lorraine took that as her chance to make her presence known. Lingering for much longer would only feel creepy.
“What are you up to?” she asked.
Henry turned from the piano to look at her. “Oh, I got permission to practice here. I mean, the room is free now, so…”
“Yeah. That makes sense.” A pang of sadness twisted her stomach. The room shouldn’t have been free. Wouldn’t have been free, except the school didn’t have a band director anymore. Not because the position had been eliminated, but because no one had applied for the job. She’d heard parents talk about the shortage of teachers before, but this was the first year she had been directly impacted by the problem. She thought of her clarinet and how it had been sitting in the corner of her room for far too long. The school band had been, in a word, disbanded. The silent joke failed to lighten her mood.
“I just asked Principal Robbins. She thought it was a great idea. Better than letting the room go unused.
Lorraine nodded. “It didn’t occur to me to ask.”
Henry’s smile brightened. “Maybe you could. There’s plenty of time in the day, and after school. If we got enough people interested, we might even be able to practice together.”
“Start our own band, you mean?” Lorraine laughed to herself, but not because the idea seemed ludicrous. In fact, it could be fun.
He shrugged, perhaps taking her laughter for mockery. “Just a thought.”
She offered a reassuring smile “A good thought. I’ll think about it.”
He smiled in return and turned back to his music. As the notes filled the room once more, Lorraine knew she should be thinking about going back to her classroom, but the melody kept her feet planted to the ground while her mind took flight, giddy with new possibilities.
Word Count: 662
Tagline: Even in dark times, music can provide you the light you need.