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Difficult Rhythms

Writers: Francesca
Date Posted: 5th February 2022

Characters: Arrilon
Description: Arrilon meets Marena and gives her some tips about playing the flute.
Location: Harper Hall
Date: month 1, day 11 of Turn 11
Notes: Mentioned: Jayala (not by name)

Arrilon's fingers fumbled again as he attempted to hit all the notes
at the speed required for the song. He grunted in frustration, setting
the gitar down gently next to him. Joy had been there at the start of
his practice session, but the firelizard had left him to do something
more fun when it became clear he was just repeating the same runs over
and over again.

He wiggled and stretched his fingers, deciding he needed to rest them
for a moment before trying yet again. This new piece he was working on
in his chamber group included a gitar solo that then turned into a
duet. He was learning the secondary gitar part, which involved
quick-moving fingers. While he could play the notes perfectly at
three-quarter speed, as soon as he went full speed, everything fell
apart. On the one hand, he liked the challenge. On the other, messing
up was getting increasingly frustrating.

He stood, stretching his hands behind his back and then leaning to the
side. He had been sitting hunched over the gitar for over half a
candlemark and his back was protesting. He straightened quickly when
he heard the sound of the door open, and a surprised, "Oh."

"Sorry," a soft voice said. "I didn't hear anything. I thought the
room was empty."

"I was taking a small break," Arrilon explained, turning to see a girl
with apprentice knots. She looked to be perhaps in her late teens and
was holding an instrument case and some sheet music in her hands.

The recent conversation with Valinar still on his mind, Arrilon
suddenly felt the urge to make sure this apprentice felt a sense of
belonging at the Hall. Even if he wasn't her teacher, maybe he could
make a difference. "I'm Arrilon. Are you practicing something for

She had been stepping back, planning to search for another practice
room, but his voice stopped her. "I'm Marena. And, I'm just working on
a piece. I have a check-in with one of my teacher's tomorrow." She
again turned towards the door. "I don't want to disturb you."

"Oh, it's no problem." He wondered what to say that would seem
inviting but not overly forward. "Do you mind if I see what you're

She shrugged, handing over the papers. Arrilon scanned the first page
and nodded in recognition. "I remember learning this Turns ago. It has
some challenging rhythms. It took candlemarks for me to get it right."

Marena nodded. "I've almost got it, but wanted to practice a few more
times before tomorrow."

"Would it be helpful for you to practice it here? Pretend I'm your
teacher?" Seeing her uncertain expression, he held up his hands. "Only
if you'd like some feedback. I haven't had a chance to teach at the
Hall yet, so it's also good practice for me. You can even give me
feedback on my teaching skills."

She still didn't seem thrilled by the idea, but gave a brief nod of
assent. "Maybe I'll just play it once or twice?" she offered.

"Of course." Arrilon moved his chair to give her plenty of space and
waited patiently as she arranged the music on the stand and took out
her flute. "Is that your favorite instrument?" he gestured.

Marena nodded. "I started on the recorder, but I like the flute
better." She gave a small frown looking at his gitar. "I'm still
pretty bad at the gitar."

"The gitar takes a long time. You should have heard all the mistakes I
was making earlier." When she seemed ready, he gave a nod. "Whenever
you want. Feel free to play it slowly the first time through."

Marena nodded in return, took a deep breath, and began playing. There
were a few places where the rhythm wasn't quite right. Arrilon was
impressed though. He hadn't known what to expect but, at least from
her playing, he wouldn't be surprised if she was close to making
senior apprentice.

When the song was done, Marena cleared her throat nervously and looked
at him. He gave a wide smile of approval. "That was pretty good. Can
you play just these two measures slowly?" He pointed to one of the
places with a challenging rhythm.

She did, and he nodded. "And now faster, with the previous measure.
Make sure to pause long enough before the triplet. You rushed it a
little the first time."

The pair focused on a few of the tricker parts of the song, Marena
quickly picking up the most difficult rhythms. Arrilon felt a rush of
excitement at working one-on-one with a student. He wondered if it was
too soon to ask the Hallsecond about doing some formal teaching,
rather than just observing and having conversations about teaching.

"I'm sure you'll do well tomorrow," he said confidently, with a smile.
"Maybe just hum the rhythm to yourself a few times tomorrow morning.
That's what helps me feel prepared."

Marena returned the smile. "Thank you. I feel a lot better about it."
She quickly put her flute away and took the sheet music. "I should get

"Of course." Arrilon held a hand up in farewell. After she left, he
took a look at his gitar and decided he was done for the night. The
next chamber group practice was still a few days away. He gathered his
items and opened the door, heading for his room. Marena was still in
the hallway, talking to a male apprentice. Arrilon gave a quick nod to
both of them, not noticing the suspicious look the male apprentice
gave him, or the pointed question the boy asked Marena. He was just
excited to have done something concrete to support a female
apprentice, and was already thinking of other ways to help.

Last updated on the February 10th 2022

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