Chapter 5: Softly 2
Time flew diligently until it was right before the Concerted Music presentation. Tension and nervousness were spread to the opera students as muttering students appeared here and there.
Next period was the presentation after all.
After staring at them, I threw a glance at Han Dasom and found her glaring at the floor, seemingly in a deep concentration. Because she didn’t notice even when I waved my hand in front of her eyes, I tried clicking my fingers once.
Only when the click resonated did Han Dasom raise her head.
Hmm... I couldn’t tell if she was okay or not; she had a serious expression. Tilting my head, I decided to ask directly.
“Dasom, it’s the Concerted Music next. Are you nervous?”
She looked steadily and replied.
“No, I think I can do well.”
Noh Jusup who had been nearby couldn’t hold back after seeing that stiff appearance and gave a little laugh.
“Aren’t you frozen solid? You sure you’re okay today?”
“I’m not frozen...”
When Han Dasom glared towards him, Noh Jusup quickly turned his head away from the heated gaze. Seeing all that, Lee Suh-ah heaved a sigh.
“Dasom, it’s okay. Today’s just the first presentation; we can do well in the test.”
Although that was what she had said, Lee Suh-ah seemed to be worried and after slowly approaching me, she whispered in my ear.
“Although today’s the first presentation, you know we don’t have much time to meet because of the concours, right? To be honest, there’s not much time to practise apart from the actual presentation day, so we need to do well today... do you think Dasom is very nervous?”
“I think so yeah.”
She was frozen in front of a camera so would she be okay in the actual one?; people should always move with the worst-case scenario in mind. Seeing me calmly giving a nod, Lee Suh-ah made a dumbfounded expression.
“But it doesn’t matter.”
I slowly continued.
“We can get rid of the tension.”
Shrugging my shoulders at Lee Suh-ah who was gazing at me coldly, I turned my head over towards Han Dasom.
... Her reply sounded like she was in perfect shape but thinking of yesterday made me anxious. How easy would the world be if we could always perform like how we did during the practices?
It wasn’t just music but the actual things were always like that – we would perform worse than our practices. So here, all I could do for her, was to make sure she could perform as close as possible to what was done during her practices.
By getting rid of her nervousness.
Then, there was the question of how – how should we get rid of her nervousness... After staring at her black eyes for a bit, I opened my mouth.
“I believe in you. You practised with me every day and if we counted all the people that you performed in front of, it would easily go over a hundred. So there’s no need to be nervous.”
After looking at her moved expression,
I flicked my body away.
“...If nervousness disappeared from mere words like these, why would people be worried every day? There won’t be anything hard either. More important than words are actions. So, let’s go for a quick run around the school grounds.”
In front of the stiff Han Dasom, I pointed outside with my finger.
“Let’s run around the school.”
“Haa... haa... Yunjae... I’m... dying...”
“You won’t, you won’t. You’re doing really great, so just up to that point. We’ll finish there.”
Staring with hazy eyes at the place I pointed, Han Dasom clenched her teeth and began running.
Seeing her waving her arms across from behind, it was a bit funny – she resembled a zombie staggering away after being bathed by the sunlight.
People would think I made her do a marathon or something.
I watched that scene with a grin, when Han Dasom finally completed one run around the school grounds and collapsed onto the seat.
Seeing her chest heaving up and down, I suddenly remembered the bottle of water in my bag and handed it over.
“Here, don’t drink too fast.”
Taking little gulps, she appeared like a squirrel.
Looking down at the two of us, Noh Jusup tilted his head.
“But why did she run around the school grounds all of a sudden? It’s the Concerted Music lesson right after.”
“To let her relax.”
Glancing over Lee Suh-ah and Noh Jusup who pointed their questioning gazes at me, I started explaining.
“It’s easier to sing better after relaxing, and it’s especially effective for people who become nervous during the real thing. Nervousness is only there because there is leisure, so we are getting rid of that leisure, and letting her focus solely on singing.”
Staring at the two of them who still couldn’t understand, I continued talking. This was similar to the ‘singing new songs are helpful’ thing that I had mentioned.
Just think about it.
Stray thoughts were there because the person was somewhat tired but relaxed because, in extremely tough situations, they will never appear. It was hard enough to focus everything into the task so how could there be any other thoughts?
So if we forcibly made her relaxed before singing, then the little constriction of the throat that happens due to nervousness and the awkward artificial muscular movements would be reduced.
And as I talked on and on like that, Lee Suh-ah made a discontent expression.
“Full of confidence. You sound as if you’ve trained a lot of people before.”
“Of course~ I trained the kids back in the military and received rewards...”
In the middle of that, I halted.
With a glance, I could see Lee Suh-ah raising her eyebrows with eyes that questioned what this was about. She appeared clueless.
And that reminded me of something.
I was still in high school.
“...and days off in my dream. Hahaha.”
When I awkwardly ended my words, it felt like Lee Suh-ah’s expression had cooled down by 10 degrees Celcius.
“...Is that so.”
“...That is so.”
A cold wind fluttered between us.
“Let’s go up. We’ll be late.”
After saying that, she stood up from her seat, and seeing that, Noh Jusup grabbed his stomach and laughed.
“Hukuk. Oi, you’re worried about military already? You should be thinking of getting awards at the concours instead.”
Finding it bothersome, I spoke of whatever came to mind.
“If you think about going to the military twice, then it sometimes haunts you even in your dreams.”
Fighting all the way back to the class, I entered with Noh Jusup and Han Dasom and found the class in the midst of preparing for the prac test. There were people chattering in groups, people listening to music on earphones, people sitting next to Kim Wuju and talking with him, and Song Mirae as well.
I could tell with a glance that we were the last to arrive. The curious eyes that had gathered at the heavy breathing Han Dasom soon diverged after a while.
“Now, it seems that the last group has arrived as well, so shall we begin? The bell has just gone as well.”
When I got on my seat, teacher Ku Mingi’s explanation continued.
“The presentation today will be in exactly the same format as the final prac test at the end of the semester. Each group will come out and sing, with the other groups giving reviews and feedback after.”
Listening to him speak, it seemed to be in a similar style to the Improvement Concert with the only difference being that it was a chorus rather than a solo.
That would be an extremely large difference though.
While I was lost in my thoughts, the presentation had begun.
“Shall we go with the first group first? Kim Jisoo...”
The first group... the second...
Listening to the group of people singing, I noted the feedback for myself. They were indeed good – not bad. While keeping in line with how a chorus should be done, they were still able to let out their own timbres. They were highly skilled despite still being in high school and was as expected of Future Arts High.
However, there was still yet to be a definite winner.
With a glance at Kim Wuju’s group, I could see Kim Wuju with a slight smile without a single worry. Well, he was that good at singing so it was natural for lessons at this level to not be satisfying.
Carrying my eyes further across towards Song Mirae and Jun Shihyuk’s group, they appeared to be very confident as well, evident from their chattering appearance.
In fact, this group seemed more dangerous than Kim Wuju’s group.
Soprano, alto, tenor, baritone – a perfect group. In a chorus, having 4 voice types would definitely increase the variation of songs they could sing, with Song Mirae and Jun Shihyuk having relatively high skills on top of that. In average, maybe their skills would be a little above our own?
“...The second group can take these into account while singing. Next group is... the third group?”
I saw Kim Wuju standing up from his seat. Was it already their turn?
Receiving help from the three girls, Kim Wuju stood in the middle of the class, as the three girls stood behind him. After glancing at them, I shrugged my shoulders and turned back to the notepad.
There was actually one more reason why Song Mirae and Jun Shihyuk’s group was scarier than Kim Wuju’s. It was because the song chosen by Kim Wuju’s group, was very bad.
Hearing the three female voices tickling the ears, I started writing on my notes.
[Hendel’s Messiah no 20. ‘He shall feed his flock like a shepherd’ is normally a song sung by altos and sopranos. Group 3 had changed this into soprano-alto and tenor to sing...]
Raising my head back up, I could see the three girls singing zealously. They were good as well and weren’t lacking in terms of skills by any means.
And here, when the girls’ part ended, Kim Wuju opened his mouth.
“Come unto Him, all ye that labour–”
His solo appeared bright to the eyes.
A beautiful voice, perfect high notes, easily being able to jump over an octave in one jump as well as the emotions embedded into the singing. There was nothing to point out on, and immediately changing the class into a concert hall, Kim Wuju started singing alone for over 3 minutes.
That was the problem.
When I glanced at Lee Suh-ah, she must’ve had felt something as well, and I could see her earlobes slightly reddened. Stabbing her side with my elbow and pointing at my notes, I directed her eyes to the words I had written.
[It’s hard to call that a chorus right?]
After strangely staring at me, she took the pen away from my hand and wrote.
[Right. Thank goodness we changed the song like you had said. Happy now?]
I wasn’t trying to boast though.
The song had thus ended with a few feedback going across. Those were mainly towards the girls singing behind as there probably weren’t many assertive people who would dare to point out at Kim Wuju.
As I was wondering whether I should mention the song selection or not, the teacher opened his mouth.
“Group 3. Very well done. The three sopranos perfectly shared the same space and expressions. It was a flawless chorus. However...”
Flicking his gaze at Kim Wuju, teacher Ku Mingi stiffened his expression.
“I can’t assess student Kim Wuju’s chorus. Isn’t that so? I didn’t hear any chorus so how can I assess him on concerted music?”
Kim Wuju slowly nodded his head and seeing that, teacher Ku Mingi firmly concluded.
“It’s probably better for Group 3 to choose a different song. If a song like this was to come up, I can only give a 0 to student Kim Wuju.”
To the severe evaluation of teacher Ku Mingi, Song Mirae and Jun Shihyuk’s group’s mood brightened and I could even hear some whispers.
“Kim Wuju’s group is completely over. How many concours is Kim Wuju going in? He wouldn’t be able to practise properly if they were to choose a new song.”
“Besides 3 sopranos and 1 tenor is just a bad balance overall.”
“Aren’t we going to be coming first then?”
“There’s Lee Suh-ah’s group but... there’s 3 dodgy, no, is Jo Yunjae a bit decent?”
They seemed to be trying to tone themselves down but we were very close so I could hear them without a problem.
Glancing at Han Dasom, she seemed to have missed it and still had a calm expression, focused on repeating her own parts.
It felt somewhat pleasant.
If Han Dasom who was disregarded like that was to sing a beautiful song, what kind of reactions would come out? If a person they thought was a stone was polished into a gem by my hands, what kind of expressions would they have?
Suddenly, my eyes met with Song Mirae’s and perhaps due to the day before, her gaze was still cold.
Didn’t she ask why I was confident?
Patting away the glare she was giving me, I stood up from the seat.
“Group 4, please come out. Noh Jusup, Lee Suh-ah, Jo Yunjae, Han Dasom.”
Because it was time for us to sing.
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