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Touch: Chapter 3

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Nadia got to work on training herself as much theory and aural skills as she could. She bought a self-teaching book on ear training, and began the exercises. However, not having a piano to base her pitches was a real difficulty, almost to the point she began wandering around the city to find a piano shop, or tavern. Pianos were certainly available, but she was not allowed to play them, especially if people were around.

"Well, may I come early in the morning to play?" she asked one piano store manager. "I have to go to work at 9, but I can come at 7 maybe? You see, I don't have a piano, but I really need to have access to one now that I've undertaken a... a particular position."

"And what is that?" he asked suspiciously.

Nadia sighed. "I need to improve my musical skills so I can be a music copyist."

The manager in the end reluctantly acceded to her request, and let her come at 7-8, as he opened his shop at 8 for the public. Nadia regularly went to that store, practicing scales, and eventually started buying some books on how to learn piano basics.

Nadia's life soon was filled with things to do. Mornings she would get up early to practice her musical skills, then go to her regular copyist work, and then at night go to Gavrilov's apartment.

The first night, which was Monday, proved to be considerably more difficult. Gavrilov began playing a work at the piano with at least 4 separate voices, and very distinct chord progressions. But it was all a mess to Nadia. She had never learned music theory, and so the chords all sounded like an unpredictable jumble. Nadia stared at her scrap paper in confusion, occasionally looking up at the servant who would sometimes watch the whole proceedings silently across the room. He wore a distinct frown, but more of sympathy than disapproval.

"Did you get that?"

Nadia started. "I... I got the melody, sir."

She saw Gavrilov working his mouth, but not saying anything. He put his face in his hands for a moment, but then let go and sighed heavily.

"I have so many ideas in my head that I can't keep them there. You have to help me."

"I'm trying my best."

"No you aren't!" he snapped. "Try again! I can't repeat this to myself over and over without resolving it. Then again I can," he added, more to himself, and calmer. Nadia could only stare at him in amazement sometimes.

For 4 hours, he began single voice dictations for Nadia to write down, one voice at a time. It was grueling, as tedious as Nadia was doing for her copyist position. But to Nadia, it was different. It was tremendously difficult, but it was exciting. They succeeded in voicing all the lines necessary to make up about 20 measures of music that evening.

"What time is it?" he asked eventually.

"5 until 11 o'clock," Nadia said.

"I ought to let you go now."

Nadia could hear the dejection in his voice, true disappointment. She frowned bitterly, and got up.

"Likely nothing I did today made any sense to you... but very well. This is how it will have to be. Come tomorrow at 7, same time," he said, trying to sound more positive. He could sense in Nadia's silence her own sadness.

A carriage was ordered, and Nadia went home promptly. On her bed that night, she thought deeply.

"Why does he keep me? It doesn't make sense... couldn't he get someone else? I could barely stand his condescending treatment today. Better he gets rid of me than keep me around and talk like that... trying to improve me... although I'm just plain bad... and then what if I were to just leave without a word?... I haven't been paid yet either..."

These questions flurried around in her head until she fell asleep.
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