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Shounak Dattagupta Michelle Parsons ENG 106 February 17, 2014 Prospekts March I cant do it. Excuse me?

My fingers traced the outlines of the ivory keys. Lingered between C and E flat, gingerly applied pressure to the white key between; a rather dull, solitary D note floated out from the depths of the old grand piano at whose helm I sat. This thing was at least 80 years old, carefully transported to the composition chambers of Northwood High School for the enjoyment of its plethora of musically gifted students. It wouldve been a pretty elegant feeling, you know, playing such a majestic instrument, if it werent for the slender young woman scrutinizing me over the top of a chipped wooden clipboard. And if I had actually known how to play the Chopin Nocturne sitting on the bench beside me. Im sorry, Ms. Sawyer, when I said I play the piano, I didnt mean that Im that good, my eyes avoided hers, my voice sounded weak. I felt like a dog with his tail between his legs. Be that as it may, this is your final, Shounak. You led me to believe that you were capable of it, I gave it to you. Youre backing out now? Her usually clear, grey eyes clouded a little. I really felt like crap. I left the music room that day feeling like I had been jettisoned from a world that I used to call home. Floating around, in a metaphysical realm of self-pity. See, I really liked music. My parents were both hardcore proponents of academics, but they had never frowned upon the fine arts; my dad loved listening to the Dave Brubeck Quartet as he wove his way through pages of computer code and technical

briefs, whistling as he worked. My mom loved Michael Buble while vegetables bubbled in the hot water on the stove, while cornbread rose in the oven. And while they did enroll me in every institution of learning in existence (all in the pursuit of that grand calling we call college), my parents didnt hesitate to drop cash on music lessons; six years of piano, a drum-set for my 12th birthday (the neighbors would have none of it, however, so that didnt stick around for too long). Violin lessons for a few weeks, music theory. Anything I wanted. And even though I gained proficiency in so many different instrumental media this way, I was never really talented in any of them. It saddened me, because the words harmony, acappella, and chord progressions interested me more than derivatives and molar mass did; I wanted to be able to do it, too. I wanted to play an instrument as part of something great, to hear everyones sound come together into something divine and full of passion. So thats why I enrolled in Symphonic Orchestra, told them I could play piano and string bass, stumbled through a semester of dispassionate concerts and awkward practice sessions, and ended up failing my music final. Its at this point in my life where all I heard were the clichs If at first you dont succeed, try, try again! from so many different sources, in so many different ways. But I just wasnt cut out for it. I was dwarfed by these other kids who all performed so well; they all seemed like me in every way, the way they laughed, gossiped, hung out. The sole difference being what they became with an instrument in their hands. How they evolved, how they transformed their thoughts and emotions into something that cant be described with words. They all seemed to have a talent that was always just not within me, maddeningly out of reach. Have you ever felt like that? I had no voice of my own. And then, one day, just out of the blue, I wandered into the chorus room.

And who might you be? The round-bellied man, bald patch illuminated in the glare of a studio light, baggy yellow golf polo and red corduroy pants, glared at me through eyes that scrutinized my soul, assessed my insecurities and my doubts, understood my desperation; but at the same time, those eyes also emanated an aged kindness. He intimidated and welcomed me at the same time with those eyes. Apparently I had mistaken this room to be my orchestra class; this was Chamber, the highest level of choral music in the state. I had just stumbled into a class full of some of the most accomplished musicians in the school. YouTube stars, competition winners, music theory classes since 1st grade. Me. Talentless little me. And they all gazed at me standing in the doorway, sizing me up; was this a new kid? Maybe from upstate? He must be pretty damn good, if Halops actually paying attention to him. Why is he getting so much attention? Whatever, I bet I have better breath support than him; he looks like he has a weak core. Bad posture. After an awkward pause, I mumbled something about walking into the wrong class, smiled, and turned to leave. Now hold on a second, son. Come over here, front of the class, please. What? What did he want? No, I cant be here, not in this class of all classes. Seriously? I kind of sputtered. Oh no, sorry, I wasnt supposed to be in here, Im actually in Ms. Sawy- Thats alright, she isnt going anywhere; theres still he glanced at the clock behind him, craning around in his tiny, wobbly little chair mounted on a conductors podium, still about 23 minutes left in this period. Come sit with us. Ill write you a note, Angela will understand. He said with a smile.

I had no choice; slowly, and with as much dignity as I could muster under the scrutiny of Californias best young vocalists, I strode to the front of the class and planted myself in front of Mr. Halop, Northwood High Schools esteemed Choral Director and Varsity Womens Golf Team Coach. So, show me what you can do. I heard him, I understood exactly what he meant, but I did not want to comply. Was he sadistic? Didnt he know? Didnt he hear those awful, dissonant piano solos from the adjoining room, disappointment and judgment so strong that it felt tangible? Im sorry? I dont really get what you mean, Mr. Halop, I said, looking straight at him. Giggles rustled through the classroom like a pernicious breeze. Come on, you know exactly what I mean. He rose then, strode over to the grand piano resting beside him. For such a big man, he had a surprisingly spritely gait. He played a few chords; I recognized them immediately. Yellow, by Coldplay. I loved that song. Look at the stars, look how they shine for you He began in a deep bass, vibrato resonating at the end of his phrase, his hands keeping the chord progression. And suddenly the room erupted into a harmony; baritones and basses created support as the soprano soloist rose above it all, pouring her soul into the lyrics that she shaped into something that could be felt on a deeper level than just if the words stood alone. It was just beautiful, it gave me goose bumps. It touched something within me; it was different. I felt connected to the soprano. It was not something tangible, like a violin or piano. It was something that was born with me. It was literally a part of my soul. I started to sing. Look at the stars, look how they shine for you.

It took me a few bars to realize that I was the only one singing in that room. When I opened my eyes, my vision was slightly blurred. Tears? Wow. I wiped them away furiously, embarrassed that I had actually tried to sing in front of them. Silent, humiliated, I stepped toward the doorway to leave that room, as I had done so often already, in so many other rooms. That was beautiful. You have such a beautiful falsetto. Youre a first tenor, arent you? The soprano had stepped in front of me, blocking my way to the door. She held out her hand. Hey, my names Jeslyn. Jeslyn Kim. Nice to meet you. Whats yours? Sho. Shounak, actually, but most people dont say it like that, anyway. She let out something like a giggle, and there was a collective chortle around the room. I felt a rather heavy hand on my shoulder. The bells about to ring. Ill write you that note now, Shounak. I think therere a few things I need to discuss with Angela, he muttered, with a small laugh. Soon after that day, I quit orchestra and joined chorus. I was given solo after solo and, in a few months, I was immediately moved into Chamber. I auditioned into Northwoods famous mens a cappella group, Pride, and became a section leader. I performed across the country. This all happened in the space of nine short months. It has been a year since those days. Sometimes, when Im alone and pensive, I ponder how my fate would have differed if I had never walked into that room. It is at these times that I feel there may be a fine thread, a string, an enigma, that tugs us in some unseen way toward our fates. Everyone has something within them; it simply lies dormant within us, waiting for us to step into the right room, meet the right person, feel the right urge. I literally found my voice that day.