My heart was beating fast. It was not much I could do to contain my emotions, because I, along with other students in my class, were to be asked to play some music in the music room, as instructed by Mr. Rajes. I was shaking my head; feeling nervous, for it was not that often we were tested like that. I wondered why.
However, unlike me, Mickey was all smiles. He was not overconfident, but was happy, for he regarded the test as an opportunity for better things to come. I have to say, I was impressed with his spirit and determination.
“Relax,” Mickey said to me. “It will be fine. You always play the keyboard.”
“Sure I do,” I replied, “but what if Mr. Rajes tells us to play something else? You know my guitar and percussion skills are not that great.”
“It does not have to,” Mickey insisted. “You just play with your heart and mind in it. Just be confident.” He smiled as he finished his sentences. Again, I admired his attitude, even though he did not seem to understand I was often nervous when it came to tests or examinations.
Mr. Rajes randomly picked students to play one of many instruments in front of the class. Even Squiddy was asked to play the keyboard, which he found a little challenging, but after spending some time, he got used to it. With the keyboard adjusted to sound like a clarinet, he played well, sometimes even better than his clarinet playing, which was not the best anyway.
Squiddy’s success lifted my spirits a little, but when Teddy was called up front, he was not only told to play, but to sing as well. Before him, one student was told to sing, but his voice was horrendous to say the least. When it was Teddy’s turn, he played the keyboard, too. At first, I thought he was going to slip. I was proven wrong, for Teddy was impressive. He played to the tune of ‘Remember the Time’ , although his singing needed more improvement, I thought.
After Teddy was done, Mr. Rajes turned his attention to all his students. His head and eyes were moving left and right rapidly. It took him roughly 15 seconds to point to the next player – me. Reluctantly, I stepped in front, waiting for instructions.
“Malik,” he said, before pausing for a while.
Then, he continued, “play the keyboard, please.”
Relief was etched on my face. I thought he was going to tell me to play the guitar, but he was kind enough to let me play what I loved playing. Unfortunately, I had to overcome one hurdle: singing.
I have to admit, my singing was not great. Even though Mickey taught me in some ways, I had not completed my vocal training. I thought I really needed it, but I was too busy practicing other things to bother with practicing my vocals. Still, I was prepared to do as instructed.
Fortunately, the freedom of music choice meant I could play any musical style, of any songs that I knew. Thus, I chose to play ‘Happy Birthday to You’, since it was the easiest to play and sing along to. However, after playing for a while, Mr. Rajes said, “Another song. A more challenging one.”
At first, I was about to get angry, for it was really unexpected, but I calmed myself down, so that I could refocus. I had limited choice of songs, but I eventually chose to play ‘Starchild’, still fresh on my mind after I heard Mickey playing it the day before.
I started with the opening riff before going on to the more challenging parts. While playing, I hardly sang. In fact, it was not until the chorus that I started doing so. I was too nervous to sing; sometimes I felt like kicking myself for it, but once I finished, I could see a smile appear on Mr. Rajes’s face. Thus, I was relieved and returned to my seat.
He went on by calling a few more names before the music class period ended. To my surprise, Mickey was not called to play. I did not know why, but still, he was all smiles.
“I wonder why you were not called to play,” I said.
“It is not my lucky day,” he replied. “But I got over it. In fact, I realized that I need to practice playing ‘Billie Jean’.”
“Yeah. You know I would love to ace a Michael Jackson song.”
“I thought it was a Quincy Jones song.”
“Well, Quincy was part of the production, but I meant it was a song sang by Michael.”
I nodded, for my friend was an avid fan of the King of Pop.