Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Secret Life of Music Students

We all know rock-n-rollers and jazzmen are randy devils, but certainly their uptown cousins, the classical, conservatory-trained musicians, are as cool and refined inside as their white tie and tails and tasteful evening gowns suggest? Marina St. Clair tore the tux off of that prim myth over at Jeremy Edward's blog the other day and I have to admit the scene in the practice room she described really stayed with me. Perhaps it's because I have a bad case of musician-envy. A writer needs to sneak up on her reader, slowly weaving a web of words, but those lucky musicians have the magical ability to reach right inside you and touch your heart (and other places) with just a few well-played notes.

Here's Marina's report from inside the practice room:

I spent a lot of years as a music student. As you'd suspect, we all spent a lot of time training our ears -- so that we'd understand harmonic structure, so that we could play in tune, so that we could play a beautiful melodic line, and so that we could play well with our colleagues.

Our highly-trained ears got to hear a lot of other things at the conservatory as well. It was always interesting to stroll down the practice room wing at night. There were all sorts of passionate sounds, musical and otherwise! Quite a thrill for the creative, imaginative auditeur!

Here's a brief scene I originally posted over at Jeremy's, having been moved to reminisce a bit about my conservatory days after reading his terrific 4-hand piano piece:


He was a trombone player. We were both undergrads at the conservatory. We were friends -- what the young ones would call “friends with benefits” these days, perhaps. He dated others, I dated others, and in between, we’d occasionally keep each other company.

We were young, passionate musicians who spent far too many hours in solitary confinement perfecting our tone, technique and musicianship. As was true of many of our friends, we tended to practice late into the evening. And, late in the evening, our young passionate minds and bodies tended to lose concentration on our art and tended to wander to other pursuits. The practice room wing of the conservatory came alive at night and was filled with much more than just the sounds of winds, brass and percussion as the evening wore on.

This particular night, we were both “single” again and feeling lonely. So, I wandered down to visit him in his practice room. He had the window papered over, as was traditional, especially among the low brass players, but I knew his sound. So, I knocked, opened the door, and went in. He was sitting at the piano, working on some orchestral excerpts.

As had become our routine, I stood behind him as he sat there on the piano bench, put my hands on his shoulders and asked him if he wanted a massage. He did, of course. We both knew where things were going, but we were both always a little shy and this gave me the initial excuse to touch him. So, he put the horn down on top of the piano, leaned over to rest his arms on the music stand above the keyboard, and I started rubbing his shoulders and back.

After a while, familiar urges started getting more urgent and the tempo picked up a bit. I started licking his ear and running my hands down his chest -- at which point, he stood up, backed me up against the wall, pulled up my shirt, and we engaged in a fair bit of kissing, petting, sucking, etc. This is why we all papered the windows, of course. We wanted our privacy during these duet sessions. And anyway, we were all musicians -- standing outside the door and listening when people were engaging in this type of activity was quite an auditory thrill in and of itself! Now, I'm generally more of a heavy breather than a screamer, but he tended to be a bit loud and descriptive. So, nobody saw us, but I have no idea how many people heard us.

Conservatory practice rooms are rather sparse -- usually a piano and a bench, a music stand, walls, a floor and a ceiling -- and they’re not very large. So, we both decided that we wanted a more comfortable setting before things went much further. In the really olden days, the sensitive, artsy-type guys would have said something corny like, “Would you like to come up and see my etchings?” But, we were intense, classically-trained young performers -- very cool and very horny. He said the line that would become my favorite pick-up line of all time, “Would you like to come up and listen to my new Mahler 2?”

Ah, I have trouble resisting Mahler and his second symphony is a favorite -- and where else do you get to hear that kind of pick-up line! So, we wandered over to his dorm room, hopped up on his dorm bed covered with the nice beige chenille bedspread his mother had sent for his birthday, and he and I and Mahler were entwined in the harmony of the spheres!


Donna said...

I love how you "know his sound" Marina. That's so sexy!

Marina said...

Thanks again, Donna, for this opportunity!

Just like everyone's writing is distinctive, all musicians sound different. At school, you really studied the sound of the teachers and other students you admired. And, you really could walk down the hall, past all of the papered windows, and tell who was playing (or playing around!)

Erobintica said...

This is great Marina!

& thanks Donna for posting this. I missed the discussion over at Jeremy's.

Donna said...

If you have something for us to "listen" to, Robin, let me know ;-).

Yes, Marina, I can imagine that you do recognize the sounds of all kinds of instruments playing! I just find that very suggestive, the intimacy of knowing someone's music so well, you can determine identity by musical notes muffled by a door.

Now, may I ask--if a man is good at blowing horns, do his oral skills translate to other arenas...? You don't have to go into detail, although please do if you're so inclined.

Unknown said...

Ooh, I love this. Very nice. Sound is such a vital component of eroticism.

Marina said...

Well, Donna, since you asked -- ummm, yeah, for me at least, there is something about the embouchures of brass players - yum!

There's nothing like a good, strong pair of warm, soft, flexible, well-trained lips wrapped around your..... well, wrapped around just about anything!! And then, there's the tongue - brass players work quite a lot on their "articulation" or "tonguing" in music.

So, perhaps it's that brass players have a heightened awareness of their lips and tongue, and spend a lot of time training them and using them efficiently and purposefully. Hurray for transferrable skills!!

As you might imagine, brass bands get me all heated up...and, don't even get me started thinking about 76 trombones!! God, those trombone players have those lips, and those slide are just so damn suggestive!

Donna said...

Thanks for stopping by, P.S., to join our auditeur sharing circle.

Marina, you BAD girl. SEVENTY-SIX trombones. Oh, my god, I can see them all lined up before me with their trained embouchures. Who needs the hockey team?

Marina said...

Let me just say, for the record, that I would love to come up and see Haven's etchings!

Donna said...

Yes, Marina, I totally agree. I especially loved "Expectations." I'm into hands. And embouchures.

Unknown said...

Thanks, ladies! So, so flattered by the postive responses. (I should try that etchings pick-up line sometime...)
And yeah, the trombone. I'm not a musician, but the slide, with it's in and out, in and out. Nice. I'm sure it has to be well-oiled, too.
Reminds me of an old KISS song called....wait for it..."Great Expectations", where Gene sings: "You watch me playing guitar, and you feel what my fingers can do..."
Ah, the subtle imagery of KISS.

Erobintica said...

I will never be able to hear 76 Trombones and not think of this discussion - hahahaha!

Well, I hope haven has enough copies of "Expectations" to go around. I am going to start saving my pennies to get one of his prints. I think it will look quite nice and inspirational over my writing desk, don't you think?

Donna, I'm thinking - and yes, I may have.

Donna said...

Well, yes, since you did such a good job with the hands, P.S.H., we might as well move on to other musician assets!

KISS so brings back high school. What possessed them to do "Beth"?!

Glad to hear you may and hope you will, Robin....

Marina said...

There is actually a funny post-lude to this story. This trombone player was a bit paranoid sometimes about people knowing that we fooled around (depending, I think, on who he was pursuing at the time...).

So, after we were done fooling around that evening, we had made plans to meet up with some other friends and among them was one of his potential prospects. We hopped up from the chenille bedspread and got dressed. I put my shorts and tank top back on, he pulled on his jeans and t-shirt. And, he suddenly looked me up and down with complete horror! There I was, tall and thin, with a fair bit of exposed skin, covered with the impressions of his lovely chenille bedspread!! He said, "You've got RIDGIES!" And, he insisted that I stand around in his dorm room for another half hour until the ridgies wore off.........

Beware of chenille bedspreads and tell-tale ridgies!!

Donna said...

LOL. I like to think I notice details, but I never checked for tell-tale bedspread ridges. A new way to detect infidelity?

Erobintica said...

LOL Marina!

Marina said...

I learned early to check for ridgies (and, if I am the ridgie recipient, to allow for an appropriate interval for them to wear off!)

Jeremy Edwards said...

Thanks for lending a hand in promoting my four-hander! And it's great to see the practice-room treat again, with additional captivating insights into auditeuristic musicians, embouchures, and other fine things. And the "ridgies" coda is hilarious!

tore the tux off of that prim myth

LOL. Thanks for bringing us another great feature, Donna! I love your musings about musicians.

EllaRegina said...

Papered windows have a whole new meaning to me now.


Marina said...

Thanks again, Donna! I had such a fun time reminiscing - makes me want to run off and practice! And thanks, Jeremy, for letting me toot my horn in the first place! I hope we get to hear some more about auditory pleasures!

Donna said...

It was a real pleasure, Marina. Thank you for the auditory inspiration!

Craig Sorensen said...

Sorry I'm a bit late here. Very, very busy this week!

Awesome excerpt. Thanks Donna and Marina.

When it comes to classical music, I find the string sections get my blood to boiling most, both sonically and visually.

I don't know if there is a more beautiful sound (and sight) then Anne Sophie Mutter playing a solo on violin.

Of course, Jacqueline Du Pre passionately playing cello is unspeakably beautiful.