Act 11: Slowly 13
Before teaching new students, it was necessary to check their skill level.
“Then should we start singing one by one?”
When I opened my mouth while glancing at the three students, discomposure appeared on their faces.
I shrugged my shoulders at Chloe who had her eyes wide open like a rabbit, and glanced at the three students – Yun Soojin-sunbae, Chloe and the Dancing Department girl. I had never heard these three sing before.
Well, I guess there was the time with Chloe when we went karaoke together, but all she did was scream the chorus part without singing properly. It was impossible to tell her skill level from that.
There were zero clues about their actual level and without such information, a proper training would never be possible.
Slowly thinking back on the usual vocalisation habits of the three, I touched my chin in thought and opened my mouth.
“Before teaching you how to sing, we will see what the current situation is looking like. Just like when preparing for a test.”
The test result of the three who replied in nervousness – it had become clear that they all had the average skill level of normal people.
…In other words, they weren’t good singers.
“How was itt?”
Seeing Chloe facing me with faint anticipation, I returned a forced smile and thought back on the three’s current situation.
First off was Chloe.
It was good that she was singing with confidence, but her sound was too flat. ‘Flat’ in other words was that there was no such thing as resonance in her singing, and to put it in easier terms, it meant that her song was like a nursery rhyme.
‘Somehow it does kind of suit her but…’
The feeling it gave off reminded me of a nursery rhyme being sung by tiny children at a kindergarten. Her chirping sound was similar to a baby chicken and was cute, but it wasn’t the kind of song I was looking for.
“If you sing like that in a musical, it’s a bit… yeah.”
Turning away from Chloe, who dispiritedly lowered her gaze, I looked to the side.
“What about me?”
There, I found Yun Soojin-sunbae with sparkling eyes of expectancy.
Yun Soojin-sunbae huh…
Caressing my chin, I gave a bitter smile.
Sunbae was also one of the common types. There was a lot of breath inside her voice and she couldn’t digest each verse properly.
Her sound seemed to be leaking somewhere and lacked resonance.
It was a typical case of a poor vocal cord contact.
The gentle feeling it gave off was good but with this, singing would be bad for her throat and it wasn’t even the time to be considering a full completion of a song.
“Sunbae should diligently practise your vocalisation.”
Ship Yun Soojin sunk!
Finally, the same-grade student from the Dancing Department who had become the final person in line, took a few steps back.
She had too strong of a nasal sound and her imperfect pronunciation was an issue.
The three disciples had all sorts of problems gathered up.
After hearing their own strange sounds that escaped their mouths from a recording, the three of them seemed to have realised their current states. Sitting still, they threw glances at me and it was apparent that they had lost confidence.
Staring at them, I scratched my hair.
‘But this is normal.’
Who in the world would be able to sing well from their birth, and be a good drawer from birth?
…Well maybe those people called geniuses might be different but for normal untrained people, it was natural for them to be at this level. Besides, these three had entered the performing art school after a fierce competitive test, so they probably had no time to spare for singing.
The teacher probably wasn’t expecting much either when she allocated them to me.
‘It would have been to just teach them the basics.’
But since we were going to sing, it would be better to be a good singer right?
Making a smile inwardly, I carried my feet and stood in front of the three and could see the depressed Chloe.
After organising my thoughts for a bit, I opened my mouth.
“Firstly, thank you for your songs.”
Their expressions turned even darker. They were gradually losing more confidence, which was the most important element of singing.
While observing them, I indifferently opened my mouth.
“In conclusion it’s like this. Chloe’s sound is too flat and the pronunciation is a little unclear. This is the same for everyone, and sunbae’s vocal cords aren’t vibrating the way they should.”
The disciples remained silent.
“Well there are some other problems apart from those, but the main thing that catches my attention is that. There’s quite a bit of diversity in the problems.”
Just like the diverse timbres of voices, they all contained their problems. They were the typical type of disciples who had an accumulation of all sorts of bad aspects of people who had never learnt singing before.
Right – typical.
‘I’ve taught over dozens of such people.’
Staring at the three of them, I made a smile.
“While listening to the three of you sing, there is one thing in common which I’ve found.”
It was now time to give hope to the students who had lost their confidence.
As they made clueless expressions, I stared at them and raised my finger up. Soon, the slowly raised fingertip pointed at my lips.
“It’s the ‘mouth’.”
Though it may be quite obvious, the mouth was one of the crucial organs when singing. It was the exit which air left through at the very end, and if singing was likened to a manufactured good, the mouth would be a place that wrapped the product.
It would add the finishing touches to the song and decorate it. The mouth was in other words, an organ that took care of the final steps.
And since a human body was all intra-connected, a good control of mouth would have other organs be in a good state as well.
“But when I saw your mouths, I thought I was looking at a chicken popcorn.”
Judging from how Yun Soojin-sunbae almost broke out into laughter, it seemed to have been funny.
But for real, it resembled a chicken popcorn.
They pursed up their lips like a carp. How would you ever sing with a mouth that tiny?
The normal people I saw during lessons had over 80% chance of opening their mouth small like that.
Crossing my arms, I watched the three of them smile and opened my mouth.
“Have you seen Pavarotti sing before, by any chance?”
“I saw a few timess!”
Seeing Chloe shooting her hand up into the air, I threw her a question.
“Did Pavarotti open his mouth like you in those videos? No, right? It must have been quite large – at least three times larger than yours.”
What was there to ‘ohh’ about?
Letting out a grin, I gave a clap and organised the situation.
“Even Pavarotti opens his mouth like that and it’s not like you guys sing better than him, right.”
“That’s why, open your mouth as wide you can. By opening your mouth wide, you will be able to secure enough room for resonance.”
That alone should be able to get rid of the fundamental problems. A flat sound made due to a lack of resonance, and a nasal sound resulting from too much air escaping through the nose.
All these could be solved by securing enough space inside the mouth. It was something I learnt in the past while going to lessons myself.
‘Of course, some minute details need to be corrected but…’
It would definitely make it less harder to train the three of them.
With a nod, I stared at the three students who had different expressions than before.
Sitting down with lively expressions, they started diligently singing their own sections.
The practice sessions with the three disciples went smoothly.
“Sunbae. After practising this, you can now sort of understand what it means to contract your vocal cords right? You go boom.”
She, who had a much brighter expression, seemed to be feeling less pressured about the society.
“Chloe, I see that you have quite a good timbre. It’s more mature than I expected.”
Since Chloe was originally someone who played instruments, her sense of pitch was extremely good. Seeing her grow exponentially after a few words made the teaching a rewarding experience.
“Hmm. Yes your nasal sound has disappeared a lot.”
Hearing her own singing, the Dancing Department girl was baffled and stared at me with flushed cheeks.
“So you really are from the Opera Department.”
…Was that a compliment?
What did she think I was from… No matter how much I thought, I couldn’t find a decent answer.
In any case, as the zealous practice sessions continued during club activities, the school’s calendar progressed diligently and it was soon time for the mid-sem exams.
“Haa… hasn’t even been that long since holidays ended and yet mid-sems already…”
While Noh Jusup was powerlessly lying down on the table, I replied with a smile.
“You’re right. There is more stuff to do as is, and yet it feels like the exams are being done earlier than before.”
“I know right…”
He took out an exercise book from his bag while grumbling and began lazily going through it. Throwing a glance at it, I could see that he had made more progress than I thought and it appeared that he had been somewhat studying.
‘Had he studied in the second semester in the past?’
I stared at him with a faint doubt but soon turned around with my chin resting on my hand.
There was the crisp, scribbling sound of pens echoing inside the classroom. Feeling the classroom atmosphere which was a level heavier than the first semester, I slowly came to an understanding.
It might be burdensome for Jusup to play by himself when the surroundings were like this.
While nodding to myself, I sat still and waited for the self-study session to end when Lee Suh-ah, sitting nearby, threw a glance at me and frowned.
I looked back at her while questioning that with my eyes and soon, Lee Suh-ah opened her mouth.
Biting on her lips, she seemed to be in deep thought as she started scribbling on her book. The tip of her pen continued drawing a ‘W’ as it wandered.
I stared at the pen while thinking about the reason behind her strange actions when Lee Suh-ah finally opened her mouth.
“Why aren’t you studying?”
When I lowered my gaze after hearing that question, I found an empty table with not a single book on top. Compared to the other kids studying like crazy next to me, my table was like a vast wasteland.
Feeling slightly embarrassed, I scratched my cheeks and reflected.
Indeed… it had been quite some time since I studied. I had a hard time remembering the last time I took out an exercise book.
…Of course there was a reason for me not studying.
First off was the club activity, and other school events like the practice for Subscription Concert. Due to these, it was hard to allocate time to studying.
Second, was that I couldn’t get motivated for it.
Since our family’s financial situation was eased out due to the scholarship I received last time, plus the money invested into Future Electronics stock, there was no real reason to force myself for a scholarship.
As there was now no reason to study with all my heart and soul, it became really difficult to be motivated. If I had time to study, I wanted to sing instead.
With such thoughts in mind, I replied with an awkward smile.
“It’s a bit busy these days right. I really want to be in the Subscription Concert.”
These days in the Subscription Concert practices, Kim Wuju and Jun Shihyuk soared up like crazy and it would be us three taking turns at being the main vocals.
Being busy with practices was a legitimate excuse. But Lee Suh-ah, seemingly unconvinced, let out a snort.
“You, busy? Last semester, you were studying a lot even while practising for the prac test though.”
Well, that’s because the house might collapse if I did nothing. Of course I had to study as if my life depended on it.
When I remained silent, Lee Suh-ah gave a frown before heaving out a sigh and continuing her words.
“Don’t tell me you’re doing this because you’re pitying me right? It’s fine. Although we are in the Opera Department, don’t you know that we still need to care a lot about our school marks? Are you an idiot or something…”
Resting my chin on my hands, I looked back at her in seriousness. Flinching from that gaze, Lee Suh-ah struggled to open her mouth.
After thinking for some time, I tilted my head and asked.
“Didn’t I get a higher mark than you in the final exams last semester?”
As she made a dumbfounded expression, I suppressed the laughter from escaping and playfully opened my mouth.
“No, it’s a bit weird right. If I’m an idiot, then you, who has a lower mark than me…”
In an instant, her gaze facing me turned cold.
Seeing her flick her head away, I shook my head with a grin.
She worries about the smallest of things.