The next day, Hwang Suk Min took Jun Hyuk to the Korean Music Conservatory in order to meet Jeon Hye Jin. When they opened a classroom door and entered, an average looking middle-aged woman fussed over Hwang Suk Min.
“Goodness. It’s really been a long time, Teacher Hwang. Hasn’t it?”
Professor Jeon Hye Jin saw Jun Hyuk come in after, and quickly let go of Hwang Suk Min’s hand.
“Oh goodness. If I had known you were going to bring such a good looking young man, I would have taken more care. I wore just anything today. I thought he was going to be a baby when I heard he was 17, but isn’t he a model? I guess I’ll have to buy Teacher Hwang a drink. Ho ho ho.”
Jun Hyuk had followed Hwang Suk Min here full of expectations for the best female pianist in Korea. But his first impression was of a common chatty old woman.
“Isn’t it a scam if he’s good at playing piano with this face?”
Professor Jeon Hye Jin stopped talking and stared at Jun Hyuk blankly, holding his hands.
“Why did you learn to play the piano? To get girls? You look like girls would get in line even if you didn’t play the piano.”
Jun Hyuk could not endure it any longer and tried to pull his hands away, but Professor Jeon Hye Jin did not let him. She was gripping his hands with strength.
“Are you really a professor of piano?”
“Why? I don’t seem like it?”
“No. You speak too much like an old neighborhood woman.”
“What? I’m chatty because I’m an old lady. Anyway, sit here.”
Professor Jeon Hye Jin led Jun Hyuk by the hand to sit on the sofa, and sat down right next to him. She had not yet released his hands.
Professor Jeon Hye Jin who had been touching his hands examined his fingertips.
“This isn’t the hand of a pianist. Seeing your rough fingertips, it seems you play stringed instruments, and with your calloused palms, you play the drums too. Your calluses are severe where you hold the sticks.”
It was certain that this was not an old woman who could be seen anywhere. She was able to identify exactly which instruments he played just by looking at his palms.
“Since you play the drums, the string instrument is guitar? Do you play pop music? Band?”
Hwang Suk Min must have thought that nothing would be left of Jun Hyuk’s hands if left alone, because he cut in,
“Ah, this kid is a little hot these days. He’s appearing on an audition program right now.”
She had occasionally seen idol musicians on TV and wondered what they had eaten to grow so well, but the child that Teacher Hwang brought made her thoughts exceed even that.
“Really? Is he going to become an idol? He seems like he could be and more.”
She finally looked around her and discovered the VJ holding a camera.
“Hey, mister. Please turn off the camera, or leave the room. Even if I look like this, I think of modeling importantly. Quickly!”
The VJ lingered at Jeon Hye Jin’s sudden yelling, and shut off his camera when Hwang Suk Min gave him a look.
“I… I’m sorry, professor. It’s because the program he’s appearing on is not over yet.”
As Hwang Suk Min cautiously explained the situation, Professor Jeon Hye Jin’s face relaxed.
“Is that so? Then camera man.”
“Film at an angle so you don’t get my face. What can I do when this is your job.”
The VJ bowed his head and held the camera again.
“So, you said you’re Jang Jun Hyuk?”
“There’s no need to talk. Should we hear your piano first? Since Teacher Hwang said that you’re a gem, you must be so. Let’s see what time of gem you are.”
Professor Jeon Hye Jin bolted from the sofa and pulled Jun Hyuk up.
“Should we head to the practice room?”
Students passing by them in the hall greeted Professor Jeon Hye Jin, and when they saw Jun Hyuk, they created a greater fuss than the professor had.
“Oh my goodness, it’s Jang Jun Hyuk!”
“Really? Why is Jang Jun Hyuk at our school? I saw the broadcast yesterday.”
“Is it a mission?”
The students who had found Jun Hyuk were busy texting their friends to let them know about this, and some students began taking pictures and filming videos.
Students began to gather behind Jun Hyuk as he made his way to the practice room.
“I guess you’re popular, seeing as how those kids are making such a big deal.”
Jun Hyuk shrugged in embarrassment and walked faster. After they went into an empty practice room, Professor Jeon Hye Jin glared at the students to warn them from entering.
“If you guys make a peep, I’m going to increase the assignment pieces by 10.”
At the professor’s threat, the babbling students shut their mouths.
“It’s finally quiet.”
There was a grand piano on one side of the practice room.
The professor pointed Jun Hyuk toward the piano with a glance.
“Can you try playing?”
Jun Hyuk sat in front of the piano and pressed a few keys.
“This needs to be tuned. A lot of it isn’t right.”
“People without talent always talk about tuning. At that state, it’s much better than you’ll see in a piano academy. Are you at a competition? Just play it. I have the ear to distinguish that much.”
Jun Hyuk looked at the professor and smirked. It was interesting to see that the chatty old lady had been replaced with a tough judge.
Faces of students were stuck to the window on the entry door outside the practice room.
Jun Hyuk took a deep breath and after clenching his hands, he played the piano. Schubert’s melody came from the piano.
After about 3 minutes after the music started, Professor Jeon Hye Jin spoke out shortly.
“Play something else.”
Jun Hyuk looked at the professor for a moment and started playing again. A piano melody began again. This time it was Rachmaninoff.
The professor did not listen to more than 3 minutes.
The professor watched carefully as Jun Hyuk played Bach this time, and waited until the song was over.
When Jun Hyuk finished playing, the professor clapped lightly.
“It’s good, really. My ears got a treat today. I enjoyed it.”
The professor motioned for the students who had been listening outside to enter,
“You guys heard that? Tell me what you think. Since you guys got to listen to this great performance for free, don’t you think you need to give your evaluation?”
However, none of the students spoke. The professor tsked at the silent students.
“Oy, you’re all dense. All you want to do is take pictures with him, right? If you don’t know, get out. They said he’s only played the piano for 2 years. What’s wrong with you guys who have all been playing for over 10 years? If you don’t have playing skills, you need to at least gear your ears.”
One female student worked up the courage to speak,
“I think he changes with each song. As though it isn’t one person playing these songs, but a few people switching off? That’s the feeling I got.”
Professor Jeon Hye Jin looked at the student and smiled slightly,
“Well there’s at least one person whose ears are open. You get an A this semester. You don’t need to hear my lectures. Come to my office a little later to tell me your name and ID. Everyone get out.”
The professor turned to Jun Hyuk who was still sitting at the piano after kicking everyone out again.
“The Schubert piano was Dinu Lipatti? The Japanese version of the album that EMI Records released?”
“Rachmaninoff was Van Cliburn from RCA Records. Bach was Glenn Gould from SONY.”
“Are you able to express any famous pianist exactly?”
“I’m just roughly copying them.”
Jun Hyuk thought that she would be able to identify whichever pianist he played. Was she not the best female pianist in Korea? If she did not know that, her fame would be for nothing. But he did not know that she would be able to say the exact record in one try.
In fact, the professor’s surprise was due to the fact that Jun Hyuk had reproduced performances from famous pianists’ records without any mistakes. Most pianists were able to imitate another pianist’s style. But there were few people who could play the piano in a way that invoked the record itself.
“Roughly? If that was rough, all pianists in Korea need to stick their noses in dishwater and die. You can reproduce the performances of maestros just by playing roughly? This is. I have no words.”
Looking at the professor’s surprised face, Jun Hyuk could not hide his pride.
“You’ve taken lessons from an expert, right? For someone who is self-educated, you don’t have very many bad habits.”
She checked minor habits while he was playing the piano? Jun Hyuk was surprised again.
“Yes. From Professor Go Sae Won for 2 years.”
“What? From Go Sae Won? Go Sae Won isn’t one to stay still when you’re copying like this. What on earth did he teach you?”
Jun Hyuk felt again that the world of classical was small. He was positive they were close by the way she referred to him by his name, without a nominal. To say that everyone was connected by one degree of separation.
“I met with Professor Go Sae Won once a week. If he assigned a song, I played it… and he just watched as I played. Then if a bad habit came out, he would point it out… and that was it.”
“Without evaluating the way you play the piano or after listening?”
“No. He never said anything like that.”
“That’s strange. Why did he do that?”
It was a training method she could not understand in piano lessons. If it were Professor Go Sae Won who had studied abroad, he would have insisted on expressing a pianist’s originality. But for someone like this to end it after pointing out bad habits?
“Well that’s something I can just ask about.”
Professor Jeon Hye Jin put the question behind her and began to talk about the results of examining a gem.
“What a waste. If you had started playing the piano before your fingers were developed, you would have become an incredible pianist. It’s really a waste.”
The professor went from looking at Jun Hyuk with surprise, to regret.
“Is it your dream to become a pianist?”
“No, it’s not.”
“That’s a relief. If it was, you would have just wasted 2 years. And you’re too old. If you’re 17, that’s the age when you should be preparing for competitions.”
Professor Hwang Suk Min finally realized what had been bothering him while he was listening to the two people speak. It was this.
“I see. He has the ability to replicate anyone…”
Once Hwang Suk Min realized what was bothering him, Professor Jeon Hye Jin put up a finger.
“That’s it. He doesn’t have a piano style of his own. Since he was listening to CDs of the greats and learning on his own from the beginning, he was busy just following along. It is understandable.”
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