Author's Note: Well, not much to say, other than here's chapter six. Please read and review!
The following day promised to be far less eventful. Jean-Claude would be in class for most of the day and later in the evening he would have to do the reading for vocal methods. However, he did have his first lesson of the semester and that would likely be a bit of an adventure. He had been told that the first lesson was mostly talking and explaining expectations and, therefore, fairly painless, but he wasn't entirely convinced.
He loaded his cello into his car and set off for a wonderful eight O'clock class. It was taught by Dr. Montgomery, so he didn't think it would be completely excruciating, but the early hour still wasn't very well appreciated. Stifling a yawn, he took another sip out of his travel mug of coffee.
As with on Tuesday, he arrived to class with time to spare. He sat on the ledge by the window across from the classroom and took out the textbook, glancing over the first couple pages to get an idea of what the class would be like. It seemed as though this course wouldn't be terribly difficult. The first pages of the book talked mostly about intervals and the number of half steps separating the notes in said intervals. It went on to talk about inverting them, but over all it was quite simple.
That set his mind at ease. While he fully expected to have to struggle with vocal methods, he could have at least one class he felt confident that he could do well in. That was encouraging. About five minutes before the class was scheduled to begin, other students began to wander over sleepily, still in the phase of the semester where they actually cared about being on time so as to make a good impression on their professors. However, the earliness lost some of its effectiveness when the professor arrived five minutes late.
He pushed a cart with an overhead projector leisurely down the hall. Stopping to smile at his newest victims, he unlocked the door and pushed the cart in before allowing the students to enter and figure out where they would be sitting for the rest of the semester. While no one really enforced assigned seats, the students tended to stick with the spot they chose on the first day of classes. Getting first dibs on seats was yet another perk of being early to the first class of the semester.
He took a moment to survey the class before commenting, "Well, here we are. Another year, another musicianship one class." He paused for a moment, lips curling into a wry sort of grin. "Now, I know many of you have some experience with music theory and may be looking at this as an easy class to boost your average. But rest assured that this will not be the case. Do not take this course lightly." He opened a folder and continued, "Now, let's start taking attendance, hm? See which of your classmates decided it wasn't important to show up to the first class." The students didn't know quite what to make of him and were all suddenly very glad that they had made a point of getting to class on time.
There was one student absent and while he didn't make a big deal about it, Dr. Montgomery's eyebrows raised a bit and he commented, "Hm... Interesting." He marked it down next to his name and then carried on with attendance. Once that was done, it was time to get down to business. Or, at least, as much business as one could get done in the first session of the semester. "Well, now that I know you and you know me, let's take a look at the syllabus, shall we?" He pulled it up via the school's website and projected it onto the white board. "There are my office hours, and there's a link to the college's academic integrity policy, and such. But, you can read that on your own time..." He scrolled down to the page explaining the way he graded. He pointed to the homework section of the page and explained, "Your written homework amounts to a full twenty five percent of your grade. Please, do your homework. Don't blow this class off. It will not end well for you." He pointed further on the page, showing that written exams were forty five percent of the overall grade. Ten consisted of class participation, which basically boiled down to attendance. The final twenty percent came from ear-training. Pausing for a moment, he informed them, "Now, keep in mind that I'm being kind here. I know that most of you haven't had much ear-training experience yet. So this portion includes all of your ear-training homework as well as your sight singing and dictation exams."
There was a general sigh of relief from most of the students in the classroom. Even in the short time they'd been there, they'd heard horror stories about the first semester of ear training really dragging down averages. He cautioned, "This grading policy will change in higher levels of theory, mind, so do not blow off your ear training, thinking that it isn't worth a large part of your grade. The practice will be invaluable and you can't succeed in the higher levels if you don't build a solid foundation now." With a bit of a shrug, he added, "Besides, your grades are inflated enough by your ensembles. It wouldn't be fair if you didn't have something to struggle with." The comment was meant mostly in jest. He knew full well that most professors were pretty hard on music majors and that his students had plenty of work to get done. But, he also knew what the general public's opinion of their workload was and couldn't resist making a few snide comments here and there.
"Well, that's about all you need to know about that. So, let's put that away and get to talking about some theory." He exited the page with the syllabus and took the opportunity to indicate another set of links on the website. "These are all resources that you may use as you see fit. Almost all of the rules you will be held accountable for this semester are there, so I advise you to make full use of these pages when studying and doing homework." Without further emphasis on that, he closed out of the website and set up a piece of technology Jean-Claude was unfamiliar with. It looked like an overhead projector, but it didn't require those transparent sheets that many of them used. Instead, it was able to just display any sheet of paper or page in a textbook. He tilted his head a little, observing it. Given his ineptitude with technology, he was quite perplexed. But, he decided not to dwell on it. This was not, after all, a technology class so it was perfectly okay for him to be baffled by the machines the teachers used.
He put up a page from the second chapter of the textbook up and commented, "I will assume, since you're all music majors, you're at least a little familiar with intervals." Without waiting for an answer, he continued, "But, we'll start with an easy one. How many half-steps make up a minor second?" Hands shot up immediately. In a theory class, it was always best to pounce on easy questions, lest the professor decide to start picking victims when the questions got harder and there weren't many volunteers. Most professors were fairly predictable in that they were prone to calling on the quieter students. The intervals got bigger one half-step at a time, so the questions remained pretty simple.
But, they weren't going to stay that way for long. Now satisfied that they knew all about intervals and they didn't need to spend too much time on that, he began talking about the construction of the major scale. Still, it was fairly simple and straight forward. If someone in the class didn't know how to build a simple major scale, they probably didn't belong in the department. However, things got a little more complicated as he began talking about the various modes. It would have been simple to say that, for example, the phrygian mode started on the third scale degree of the relative major mode and, therefore, an E phrygian scale would have the same key signature as a C major scale. However, their professor decided not to bother with that explanation and instead had them copying down the construction of the scale in whole steps and half steps. It still wasn't impossible, but it was definitely the more irritating way to do things.
Most of the class took notes, however the students who had taken AP music theory in high school and, for whatever reason, still hadn't tested out of the first level of musicianship looked decidedly bored. Jean-Claude was familiar with the information, however he took notes anyway, not wanting Dr. Montgomery to think he didn't care about the class. However, the material was quite dry and by the end of the two hour session just about everyone was either ready to fall asleep or waiting not too patiently to leap out of their seats. Nine fifty couldn't possibly have come soon enough.
Dr. Montgomery asked Jean-Claude to stay for a few moments after class. He couldn't stay long, as he had another class at ten, however, he complied. He approached the professor nervously, adopting a submissive posture. However, Dr. Montgomery didn't seem terribly interested in discussing his condition at length. Instead, he commented, "You're in Dr. Wolff's introduction to music education class, correct?"
Not entirely sure where the conversation was going, Jean-Claude nodded and answered, "Yes, sir." Apparently, it was a new college policy that every music major, not just the education majors, had to take the course. The department claimed a basic knowledge of how school music programs worked would benefit all music majors, though Jean-Claude personally felt as though he should have been exempt from the class. He would never be allowed anywhere near a school in any professional capacity.
Nodding, Dr. Montgomery said, "Well, I just wanted to give you a bit of a heads up. Dr. Wolff was not happy with the decision to accept you and even less so with the school's decision to have you enroll in her class. So… Just keep your head down, alright? She'll lecture all day about how she isn't there to play 'gotcha', but sometimes one does wonder…"
"Thank you for the warning, sir."
"Alright, well, you should get going. Get there early and sit in the middle of the room. She pays the most attention to the front and back."
Grateful for the advice, Jean-Claude thanked his professor again and made his way down the hall to his next class. He was relieved that there was at least one professor who was solidly on his side and he would make sure to heed his warning and do his best not to draw attention to himself.
The large woman who'd run the interviews at the auditions waddled down the hall. Glasses that were too small for her face were perched on her nose, drawing attention to her beady eyes and she wore a fake smile that could put a clown to shame. "Welcome to introduction to music education," she greeted, sitting on top of the desk in the front of the room. Jean-Claude avoided making eye-contact.
"You will not be doing much actual teaching in this class," she said with what Jean-Claude guessed was supposed to function as a reassuring smile. "Let me repeat that. You will not be doing much actual teaching. For the entire semester, you will peer teach one rote song. That's all. Not so bad, right?" There were a few nods and murmurs of ascent. However, that didn't do very much to make Jean-Claude feel better about the class. She proceeded to explain that the main purpose of the class was just to give students an idea of what typical school music programs looked like so the education majors would be better prepared when it came time for them to take their practicum courses and other music majors would at least have some understanding of where they would stand if they decided to eventually pursue teaching.
"You'll have two exams, a midterm and a final." Smiling again, she made eye-contact with several of the students in the class and said in saccharine tones, "I expect most of you to do very well. I'm not here to play 'gotcha'. You'll know everything that's going to be on the tests." Leaning forward and winking, she added, "I'll even offer five points extra credit on the final for perfect attendance." She managed to win over the vast majority of the class with that promise.
"We'll start off the semester by just talking a little bit about the music programs everyone here came from. Now, I'd like for everyone to get involved in the conversation, so let's just pick a random person to start, hm?" She picked up her roster and made a show of pretending that she was selecting a name in an unbiased manner. However, her eyes focused in on Jean-Claude just before she looked down and it came as no surprise to him when she called his name. Apparently, she wasn't going to waste any time in singling him out.
As confidently as he could manage, he answered, "I was not involved in music at school. I studied with private teachers." She continued to stare at him, clearly not satisfied yet. Still managing to keep calm, though barely, he added, "I am unfamiliar with what school music programs entail, but I am eager to learn." Almost imperceptibly, her eyes narrowed and he was keenly aware of the fact that this was just the beginning—a small glimpse of what he could look forward to for the rest of the semester. However, his pride refused to allow him to back down and he continued to appear completely unshaken.
Fortunately, she wanted to stay firmly on the good side of the rest of the class, so she couldn't be too overt in her scorn just yet. So, she just offered a smile that was condescending at best and downright predatory at worst and then moved on to someone else, selecting another name that actually was random to keep up the pretense. By the time she got through listening to stories from everyone in the class, some good and some bad, the class time was up and she had to let them leave. "Please read chapter five in your texts by next class!"
As everyone began packing up, Jean-Claude made a point of taking his time. He knew full well that he wasn't going to get away from her without some sort of thoroughly unpleasant conversation. His suspicions were confirmed as, once most of the other students cleared out, she looked at him and said, "Stay."
He nodded, instantly hunching his shoulders forward, dropping his gaze, and doing his best to release the tension in his muscles, lest she take that as an indication of possible confrontation. She sat back down on the desk, commenting, "I noticed you trying to hide from me in class today." Unsure of how to respond, Jean-Claude simply remained silent. Patronizingly, she asked, "How can I trust you to behave if you try so hard to be unseen?"
"I… I apologize, Madame…" he said weakly.
"I'll let you off with a warning, this time. You couldn't have known," she practically cooed. "But, now I'll make my expectations clear. I want you where I can see you so I can make sure nothing… inappropriate's going on. And I expect you to keep up with the reading. I don't want any silly questions slowing us down because we have a lot to cover." With an almost pitying expression, she added, "Actually, I'll make things easy for you. How about not raising your hand, hm? I'll call on you for questions I think you should be able to answer."
Jean-Claude consented, "I will speak only when spoken to, Madame."
"Good," she said cheerfully. "Sit in the front of the room and don't be disruptive and we shouldn't have any problems. But, no more warnings. If I have any problems with you, you'll be going straight to the Bureau with a citation, understand?"
"Wonderful." With a sickly sweet grin, she dismissed him by finishing, "Have a nice day." Taking full advantage of the opening to leave, Jean-Claude promptly fled the classroom.