Act 8: Lively 1
Jun Shihyuk opened his eyes.
He could hear several sounds – the creaking sound of the chair, the rustling sound made by teacher Hong Yoojin during her search for something, the chatters of Han Dasom and Song Mirae during their war of nerves and the whispering of Lee Suh-ah and Jo Yunjae…
Indifferently listening to those noises, Jun Shihyuk slowly turned his head. Seeing Kim Wuju wearing a smile, Jun Shihyuk opened his mouth.
“Oi. Kim Wuju.”
“Jo Yunjae changed his vocalisation method right?”
Kim Wuju thought for a bit before tilting his head.
“Vocalisation? Not too sure but the texture of the song did change~ It was completely different from the Improvement Concert and was interesting.”
Jun Shihyuk looked at Jo Yunjae leaving the practice room silently with Lee Suh-ah and contemplated deeply, with crossed arms.
Something was odd…
When he saw Jo Yunjae on the day of the admission, he thought he was someone that did not try. It was because his body was in such a bad state without even the basic training done.
That thought had changed ever since the Improvement Concert.
Right, he was injured huh. He had to quit music for some reason.
‘But, he changed yet again.’
During the interim presentation of the composing department, the Jo Yunjae he saw back then was completely different from what he saw back in the Improvement Concert.
Was there a problem because of the change? Not at all.
It was in fact even better than before. Unlike before, he didn’t seem to be overworking his body and appeared relaxed, as his voice sounded freer. From a weird vocalisation method that didn’t suit his body, it had changed to one that perfectly suited him.
Jun Shihyuk stared at the door with sunken eyes.
He suddenly remembered Jo Yunjae he saw back on the admission day – the kid who had terrible skills, who couldn’t even make higher notes than himself, a baritone, despite calling himself a tenor.
A kid like that suddenly changed his vocalisation and started singing songs that were hard to find faults with. In addition, he had been acknowledged by the various geniuses of the study group including Lee Suh-ah, while also being personally chosen by teacher Ku Mingi.
All of that had happened within two months.
Suddenly, Jun Shihyuk felt a chill running down his spine.
Was this possible?
Jun Shihyuk who had attended the Future Middle School and Future Arts High School which were places that gathered countless geniuses nationwide had never seen anything like it before.
Two months were hardly enough to learn the basics.
What did Jun Shihyuk do during the two months after admission?
Nothing. He only practised but that was the same for Kim Wuju. Two months was that short a period.
‘Right, even that ‘Kim Wuju’…’
Jun Shihyuk bit his lips and stared at the open door which Jo Yunjae had left through with Lee Suh-ah.
Jo Yunjae – Was I perhaps… thinking that Jo Yunjae was more amazing than Kim Wuju?
‘No. I cannot admit it yet.’
He put force into his gaze.
Not yet. He hadn’t gotten an opportunity to check properly and his eyes hadn’t seen it in full yet. That’s why, he wanted to see Jo Yunjae’s skills as soon as possible – as soon as possible; before the prac tests.
That was why he decided to attend the song presentation in the first place.
“…See you at the composing department’s presentation. Jo Yunjae.”
Seeing Jun Shihyuk glaring daggers at the entrance, Song Mirae tilted her head.
The research into ‘emotions’ was slow.
Although I could embed emotions into the song, the techniques would go haywire immediately and if I focused on the techniques, the emotions would disappear. To perfect this and multitask, there was only one solution and that was to practise a lot.
As I spent my days practising with Lee Suh-ah and absorbing the songs of other students of the study group, a problem I had forgotten resurfaced.
On a relaxing afternoon.
After the end-of-the-day meeting, I was talking with my friends when Song Mirae came running in. Her hair was dishevelled, and she had a hard time collecting her breath. After lowering her back and gasping for breath, she suddenly raised her head.
“Yunjae! Did you hear the story about Kim Sukwon-sunbae?”
Song Mirae replied while nodding fiercely.
“Un un. That annoying sunbae from the… um… composing department!”
I blinked my eyes in confusion before nodding my head.
Right, Kim Sukwon. There was a person like that. Hearing ‘Kim Sukwon from the composing department’ made me remember a few things that had happened. His hostility towards us who had been standing off to the side, Song Mirae trembling and a reflection of my past self as well as the annoyance I felt back then.
Seeing my face turning stiff, Song Mirae carefully opened her mouth.
“He is the club president of the musical club and his personal connections are, like, nothing to scoff at. When I heard the other upperclassmen talking, he seems to have called a new performer – a pianist-sunbae from a graduate school!”
A pianist would mean that he is playing the accompaniment…
“What should we do…? He’s from a graduate school so he would be really good…”
My head became muddled in thought.
A sunbae from a graduate school. Although I had no idea how he created that connection, he had some ability I guess. He acted viciously like that during the interim presentations and yet he had some good abilities when it came to building connections huh?
After some thought, I nodded.
Indeed, composers would generally know loads of performers because they were precious people that would present their songs.
In other words, the composing department students had to be good at human relationships, and that must have also been why Kim Sukwon was the leader of the musical club.
The thing from the interim presentation was probably something that didn’t happen normally and only happened because he had to discipline his club junior + his hatred for Yu Minji.
Clicking my tongue, I grinned.
“What else should we do other than trying hard?”
“…It would be… hard for us to win right?”
Watching Song Mirae who seemed to be somewhat downhearted, I thought.
A senior from a graduate school for the accompanist and Kim Wuju for the song – it was a truly luxurious line-up. He was putting this much effort into something that wasn’t even a concour but a school performance?
Judging from how even Song Mirae heard of it, he must have been boasting around a lot.
So in other words, he had brought a proper performer with him already and skill-wise, it would be impossible for a high school freshman to compete against. Besides, Kim Sukwon’s song which I heard back then wasn’t bad. Although I preferred Yu Minji’s song, it was at the level of a preference rather than a difference in skill.
In conclusion it was like this: the songs were at a similar level but their performers were better. Both Song Mirae and I would fall short if compared to Kim Wuju and there wouldn’t be anyone within the school who could perform better than their accompanist.
I felt somewhat disheartened.
Overall, I thought that it would be difficult to completely crush Kim Sukwon. Although we might be able to win somehow, it wouldn’t be possible to shame them with an overwhelming difference.
It really was a shame because I wanted to beat them hard.
With folded arms, I thought of a method that could beat them when Chloe tilted her head from the side.
“By the way… a graduate school? What is that?”
[Graduate school. You know university in Korean right? They sound similar.]
“Ohhhh A graduate school!”
She then repeated the word several times to memorise it before opening her mouth.
“But why is it called a graduate school…? High school is after middle school so after university should be… a high university right?”
“…You’re right. Why is it called a graduate school?”
Seeing Chloe tilting her head, a thought suddenly flashed past my head.
I quickly racked my brain.
Right, there was Chloe, the top student of our piano department who had played the accompaniment for me.
Chloe, a sunbae from a graduate school, accompanist, piano.
Arranging those words inside my head, I soon made a smile.
I could see it. I could see the method that would allow us to trample over Kim Sukwon. Suddenly feeling joyous, I grabbed onto Chloe’s hands.
“Can you help us out a bit?”
I saw Chloe widening her eyes.
The composing department’s practice room.
After receiving an okay from Chloe, I brought her straight to the practice room which had led to the current situation. Yu Minji sitting on her seat squinted her eyes.
“Soo… what did you say?”
“Helloo. Future Arts High Freshman! Chloe of the piano department! Huhuh.”
Seeing Chloe saying hello with a bright smile, Yu Minji facepalmed, seemingly not understanding the situation.
Right, maybe I was too rushed.
“No no… not the name; I mean before that.”
“Future Arts High…”
Feeling Chloe’s blinking eyes facing me, I walked up and said,
“She’s the ace of our grade’s piano department. What do you think about putting her in as the accompanist for the song?”
“…No but… even if you say ‘ace’…”
Yu Minji contemplated before giving a frown.
“Your name was Chloe right? I heard your piano at the Improvement Concert. You were the one that did the accompaniment for Yunjae right? And I saw your solo as well…”
She crossed her arms and glanced over Chloe.
“She is good but… you want her to be the accompanist…? Isn’t it too sudden? Besides, it’s not like she’s better than someone from a graduate school.”
“Hmm… you’re right.”
Indeed, although Chloe was good, she was still a high school freshman and her techniques hadn’t yet fully ripened. It would be difficult for her to win against a veteran pianist because their difference in experience was overwhelming.
Yu Minji tapped the table before opening her mouth.
“Also, it’s not good for us to involve her in our matters. If it’s because of Kim Sukwon… I can just call a performer through money. Wouldn’t that be better?”
Yu Minji then saw Chloe glancing at us two with her large eyes rolling around and quickly added in a hurry.
“I mean~ I’m not saying you’re bad but, the age difference isn’t something we can do anything about. Oh yeah, your piano was good; it was better than mine.”
Watching Chloe bow her head, I thought.
Calling a professional performer huh. That was indeed a viable choice. Because their side was the one that started off this unfair thing by calling a postgraduate student, we could do the same thing.
It wouldn’t be a bad choice. Since we picked the same method, we would at least be able to tie with them. After all, the songs were at around the same level so with the performers being near even, the scores we got would naturally be similar.
After some thought, I raised my head.
“If we call a professional performer, can we defeat Kim Sukwon by a huge margin?”
Yu Minji shook her head in response.
“Hmm… It’ll be hard. Although I think I’ll win by around 1 or 2 points, more than that would be… yeah. He is good at composing as well, so there won’t be too big of a difference.”
Just following them from behind will not allow us to completely defeat Kim Sukwon. To achieve an overwhelming difference in results that could allow us to criticise him who had been scoffing at our skills, we needed a special tactic.
I turned my head to stare at Chloe standing still.
I stared directly at Yu Minji who pointed a confused expression at me.
“You’re thinking that it’ll have a similar result whether we call a professional performer or let Chloe do it right? “
“Uh… I guess?”
“Then, since there’s nothing to lose, can you just trust me here?”
Placing my hand on Chloe’s shoulder, I let out a smile.
“I think I can win if I do it with Chloe.”