Leaving the Nest
Jayala finished her last chamber music session of the day, a
journeymen's quartet with gitars, flute and harp. The flautist and one
of the gitar players were more senior, steady players who'd balance the
two younger lads, newly promoted. Overall she was pleased; the second
gitar worked hard and showed promise, while the harpist, newer to that
instrument and tentative at first, was improving.
They'd got over that time after the Turn's End concert, at least, when
some of her students thought they could relax and take it easy for a few
sevendays, and she inevitably responded by bringing out her trickiest
scores. Now, the Lord Holder's birthday was approaching. She'd need to
come up with a programme. Perhaps this group...it would be a good
challenge for them.
She turned her head to see a young apprentice, slightly out of breath
and looking worried.
"Ma'am, there's a holder here asking to see one of the Masters, but the
Hallmaster's in his studio and the Master of Apprentices is in a class
and so I didn't know what to do..."
"That's all right, Hyllem. You can show him up to my office, then go to
the kitchens for klah." She supposed, since the boy had mentioned Master
Talmune, that it was about a potential apprentice, and she could deal
with that easily herself. The boy ran off, no doubt relieved not to have
to bother the Hallmaster while he was working, and she continued on to
her office, taking out some scores to look over while she waited.
"Are you sure?" Westyn asked again as he escorted his daughter through
the Harper Hall, following the young boy who had told them to follow him
to a master's office. "We can always turn around and go home," he offered.
"Dad," Gesylle sighed, sparing her father a small smile, "we're just
looking today, remember? It's not as if it is a done deal."
Westyn did not comment. He knew, deep down, that his daughter was cut
out to be a harper, it would suit her perfectly, but the thought of her
leaving his home to pursue a craft terrified him. So far none of his
children had left home. His eldest daughter was getting a marrying age
and was much more interested in finding a husband than a craft, and then
his eldest son wanted to go into trading with him.
"Thank you," Westyn murmured to the boy when they arrived in the
harper's office, and then he turned his attention to the woman behind
the desk. "Masterharper, my name is Westyn, and this is my daughter
Gesylle, we were here hoping to get a little tour of the Hall. Gesylle
is interested in possibly apprenticing."
"Of course. Welcome to the Harper Hall." There was a little extra warmth
in Jayala's voice when she realised the prospective new apprentice was a
girl, and she put her score aside and stood. Usually she'd have
delegated the tour to a journeyman, but on this occasion she wasn't
occupied with meetings or rehearsals. "I'm Master Jayala, and I
specialize in instrumental music. Let's go and have a look around the
Hall now, and by the time we get back, the apprentice should have
brought some klah."
She followed them out of the office and led the way towards the main
hall, where performances were held. "May I ask, did you attend harper
classes at the Hold, Gesylle?" She knew the teachers there.
Gesylle walked beside of Jayala, hands folded, the picture of proper
etiquette. "Yes, ma'am."
"I can barely keep my hands on enough books for her to read," Westyn
interjected, a hint of pride in his voice.
"Then we'll be sure to pay a visit to the archives on our tour," Jayala
suggested, on the alert for the best ways to show off the Harper Hall.
"But first, we'll see the hall where we perform. If you've been to any
of our concerts here, you'll have seen it, but I'll show you what's
behind the stage."
She opened the main doors at the back, where the audience entered, and
walked in. Since there wasn't a public concert that day, the tables were
arranged for the evening meal, but there was a small group of chairs and
a tall covered harp on the stage, perhaps waiting for a rehearsal.
"I've been to a performance before," Gesylle said with a hint of pride,
glad that she had at least done something that some of the other girls
at the Hold had not. She took a deep inhale as they entered the
performance hall. "I love the way it smells," she blurted out.
"So do I." She noticed it the most when she'd been away from the Hall,
visiting other Holds or the Weyr to play at celebrations. The sweet
scent of oil and varnished wood, the faint taste of dust in the air, the
quality of sound and space that made her imagine she could almost hear
the echoes of long-past performances - it felt like home. "Come on up to
the stage. Have you learned to play any instruments, or to sing?"
"I have sang a little," Gesylle confessed, a blush riding on her
youthful cheeks. "Although I have not been formally trained or anything."
Westyn hung back a bit, taking a seat in the front row as he watched his
daughter and the harper take the stage.
"That's quite all right. Formal training is what you'd be coming here
for," Jayala replied. "In the Hall, all junior apprentices attend choral
practice in the evenings, while in the day you'd attend lessons with the
journeymen and masters, learning to make and play instruments, to
understand theory and composition, and working in the archives. I
suppose you've tried the drum in harper classes, or perhaps the pipes?"
"Oh, yes, both," Gesylle was happy to say, glad that she had at least
done something. "I like the pipes a lot."
"Good. In the junior apprentice class you'd start to learn the gitar, if
you haven't already." Jayala turned and walked towards the wings. "This
area here is where the performers wait to make their entrance." The
backstage area was far more plain, with chairs and music stands stacked
up and large harps and drums covered against dust.
The gitar. Gesylle had seen gitars, of course, but she often worried
that all of the strings and the long neck would make it difficult for
her fingers to understand. As they walked to the performers' waiting
area, she imagined how nervous it would feel to be there with a crowd
waiting for you to come out on stage. Gesylle knew that music was a part
of being a harper, but she hoped after she learned the basics she could
focus more on the academic side of the craft. She loved to read and
write. "Is there a performance scheduled soon?"
"The next big event is the Lord Holder's birthday. That's next month,"
Jayala explained. She owed Lord Corowal more than most, since he'd made
it safe for her to practice her craft at the Hall, and she always worked
hard on the program. "It's a mixture of traditional ballads and some of
his favorite works, along with new pieces. The musicians will mainly be
journeymen, with a few apprentices, but all of the junior apprentices
will sing in the choir."
Gesylle turned back toward her father, who was still sitting and
waiting, "Dad? Do you think we can come? Please?" She wanted to see and
hear the music and the shows they put on.
Westyn's lips quirked into a slight smile. "I imagine we can make it for
such an occasion."
"Everyone is welcome," Jayala said as she walked down the steps from the
stage to rejoin the girl's father. "Now we'll go and see the archives,
and we can stop in at the instrument makers' workshop on the way back.
Apprentices can request to see any of the texts or scores/ Not all of
them can be taken out, some have to stay in the archives, but they can
be copied." She smiled. "Though I can't say there's a great deal of time
for reading, with the schedule of classes and rehearsals. At the senior
apprentice level there's more time for free study."
Westyn stood and followed Jayala and Gesylle, thinking as he did that he
was getting ready to lose his daughter. He supported her in choosing a
craft if that was what she wanted, but still, the thought of her leaving
the home to live at the Harper Hall was hard to swallow. She would be
the first of his children to truly leave home, and he could tell from
the excitement in her eyes that she was determined to do it. He sighed
lightly as he watched Gesylle conversed with Jayala, he supposed this
was just one of those things about parenthood.
Last updated on the May 31st 2020