Talk Between Masters
Jayala was not usually late to dinner, but she'd had to keep two of the
junior apprentices back for whispering and passing notes in class. When
new boys arrived at the Hall, there were always some who thought they
could get away with misbehaving around female teachers. Jayala had
swiftly disabused them of that notion, and the two boys in question
preceded her into the dining hall with woeful expressions on their faces.
She hurried to the Masters' table and slipped into the free seat on the
end, next to Master Eilomar. Fortunately she was in time and the drudges
had only just begun serving the meal.
"Good evening," she said politely. Jayala didn't know the Master
Vocalist well; they didn't have much in common, to say the least. But
she did respect him as a musician, and they had worked together
organising the Hall's concerts.
"Evening, master Jayala," Eilomar rumbled his answer between mouth
fulls. "Busy day?"
"Yes, I had a class with the first-Turn apprentices this afternoon." She
sighed. "Every time I take that class, I tell myself I should pass it on
to one of the journeymen and concentrate on the seniors. But I do like
to see for myself if there are any promising ones."
"Those classes are both the best and the worst, and most of the time,
at the same time too," Eilomar replied, having his share of experience
teaching the apprentices
"They certainly were this afternoon. Those two boys over there will be
spending the rest of their evening writing a long essay on the
importance of paying attention in class." Jayala helped herself to
greens. "The taller one is not a bad gitarist, though, for his age, and
he had actually practised the piece we were working on. Have you found
any potential singers among the apprentices?"
"Yes, there's few," Eilomar replied. "I admit was initially against
allowing girls to become official apprentices but it has increased the
number of female voices available for the choir."
"Talent should never go to waste, male or female," Jayala said. "And
you're right; I enjoy listening to the choir so much more now that there
are more trained women in it. No matter how beautiful the voice, I could
never quite believe in a young boy singing the role of a Weyrwoman."
"And the period they can do it is so short," Eilomar sighed. He had
himself always been on the deeper range of vocals.
"Yes. At least that doesn't happen with my musicians. Well, not in the
same way." Jayala looked over at the senior apprentices with a weary
expression. "Some of them get to a certain age and start lazing around
and chasing girls - or each other - when they should be practising. It's
so disappointing. However, most Turns there are a few who work hard and
fulfil their promise."
"Or Searchriders come and they end up Impressing," Eilomar had lost
few good apprentices that way.
"Yes. I suppose they do need Candidates, and it's good to have harpers
in the Weyr, but I wish they wouldn't take our best students." Jayala
was still smarting from the loss of Dessa. She had been a very good
"So do I. On other hand, I do not want to find Thread burrow from my
back yard either," Eilomar said.
"You're right, we shouldn't grumble about the Search. It sets a bad
example," she replied, frowning. "There are too many in these lands who
don't respect the Weyrs. It's a concern. You'd think that by this time
in the Pass, that sort of feeling would have died down."
"Yes. People are slow to change," Eilomar agreed.
"At least the Lord Holder seems to have the right attitude. That can
make a difference, for those who are undecided," Jayala said. "And it
helps that we're permitted to sing and teach about our duty to the Weyr."
"Yes, Lord Corowal has some liberal ideas," Eilomar wasn't sure if he
approved it or not, perhaps he just didn't care. "But at least he
appreciates art. Did you know that one of his son's is an apprentice
here in Hall?"
"Oh, no, I didn't know that," Jayala said. She thought perhaps she ought
to. If she ever met the Lord Holder, it would be useful to mention it.
"Ofewal, sort of reddish blond boy, second turn apprentice, I think.
Pleasant voice but terrible beathing technique. I've given him
excercises to streighten his breathing but he jus whines about having
born with weak lungs," Eilomar replied.
"Tell him if that's so, he'll have to practice twice as hard to overcome
the limitations he was born with." She had heard excuses like that before.
"Already told him so," Eilomar has his faults but he did know how to
teach apprentices to sing.
He chuckled a bit. "He's not liking me at all."
"Well, as we all know, apprentices aren't here to like us. They're here
to learn." Jayala cast a severe look across the room at the two
miscreants from her class. The boys quickly lowered their heads and
became very interested in their meal. "Even if their father is the Lord
"Precicely," Eilomar found himself agreeing with her.
"Speaking of learning, it's perhaps not too early to start thinking
about what we might perform at Turn's End," Jayala said, turning the
conversation to her favourite topic. She had some ideas about pieces
which would show off her journeymen's skills to their best advantage.
"It's never too early for that," it just happened to be Eilomar's favourite topic too. "I've recently received a pile of new songs from composers, some of them might have potential for the choir's performance."
"Yes, I'd like to include some new music alongside the more traditional fare. It will be a good opportunity for our young composers to have their work heard by a distinguished audience." Jayala had also been thinking about presenting some of the works of female composers, written before the craft bans had been brought in. They had not been easy to find, and she was sure there were more out there, perhaps attributed to their male contemporaries, or hidden away at the back of dusty archives.
She kept that plan to herself for now, though, and instead began to discuss the new songs with Master Eilomar. Soon, a spirited discussion was under way, drawing in some of the other Masters sitting nearby, and the apprentices could relax for a while, knowing that her attention was no longer on them. For the moment, at least...
Last updated on the February 28th 2019