Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Guest Post: Music Nerd by Sara Alva

If you got the above joke, you’re probably a music nerd. Whether you’re an orchestra dork or a band geek, you are part of a culture with its own special language, its own cliques, and its own cheesy inside jokes.

So what makes an instrumental musician a dork or a geek? Maybe it’s our tendency to name our instruments. Could be the rosin on our shirts or the “hickey” from the chin rest on our necks or the funny faces we make when we play. There’s also the alone time we need for practicing, which often appeals to shyer individuals. But all of that shyness, dorkhood and geekdom disappears when we have our instruments in hand, when we’re confident about a piece we’re playing and have the need to share that music with the world.

Connor, the main character in my novel Social Skills, wears the title of orchestra dork with…well, let’s not say pride, but full awareness. He’s socially inept in the real world, but finds a place to belong when he has his violin in his hands. At the start of the novel, music is his only place for confidence. It takes romance, heartbreak, and risk before he’s able to find that his strength can extend beyond the notes he plays.

Outside the pages of a novel, there’s still a lot of opportunity for cool for any music nerd. While Connor and others like him may not realize this during the socially split years of middle and high school, it turns out some people actually find musical ability pretty darn attractive. I grew to learn during college and adulthood that I did hold a certain kind of power—a way to communicate emotions and experiences without words.

And hey, we’re free to break the stereotypes as well. There are electric options for nearly all acoustic instruments now (I may or may not have a purple S-shaped electric violin), and plenty of rock music that makes use of orchestral instrumentation. We can break out of the mold, find new ways of bringing music to people who don’t frequent orchestra halls, add a little flair, and show the world just how sexy music nerds can be.

To that end, I leave you with some musical pickup lines:

This cello isn't the only big wood between my legs.
You can tickle my ivories anytime, baby.
You had me at cello.
Excuse me, do you believe in premarital sax?
You be the conductor, I’ll be the fermata. You can hold me as long as you’d like.
I'd like to finger your fret board.
I C Major potential in us getting together.
Good boys deserve more than just fudge.
Baby when we’re done, you’re gonna need a whole rest.

*cue collective groan*

From: http://www.pickuplinesgalore.com/musician.html/

Social Skills by Sara Alva

Music is the only form of communication Connor Owens controls. No matter how badly he wishes to fit in, friendly banter and casual conversations have never been his thing. College is yet another social universe he has no clue how to navigate—until he meets Jared, a football player with chestnut eyes and a cocky grin that holds the power to shatter his self-imposed prison

 Jared's attention opens Connor up to a new realm of emotional and physical intimacy. But as Connor's self-confidence grows, so does his fear that everything will fall apart. Because in this socially stratified world, how long can a relationship between an introverted violinist and a closeted football player really last?


"Seriously, dude. No roommate? That's fucking awesome." Jared breathed with a sigh, settling himself on the empty bed across from Connor's. "I mean, don't get me wrong, Ben's a cool guy and all, but…wow. No roommate. I wouldn't mind that."

Connor shrugged. He'd only grown less and less sure of how to behave as their strange day together wore on, and now Jared was in his space—his sanctuary—and there'd be nowhere to run to if things got awkward.

Or with his track record, when things got awkward.

"All right then, no more excuses. Play for me, maestro."

Ordinarily, Connor hated playing for private audiences. But at this point, it seemed like the safest thing he could possibly do with Jared in the room. At least it would offer him a much-needed break from his anxiety.

He took out his violin and set some sheet music on his miserably bent wire stand, just so he wouldn't be caught in his lie from earlier. Then, with only a deep breath to bolster him, he launched into the first thing he could think of—the solo from Scheherazade.

It was a haunting melody, wistful and yearning, yet with a touch of hopefulness to it at the same time. The room and the tension slipped away as he drew the bow across the strings, his fingers vibrating with emotion—a simple task given what kinship he felt with the piece. It was so easy in this space to express himself, to make perfectly clear who he was and what he wanted from life. If only it were possible to speak with these notes in the real world.

He pulled the last sweet note to completion and kept his bow poised on the string, soaking in the final drops of security.

"Jesus, that was incredible." Jared's awestruck whisper dropped into the charged silence. "You're fucking amazing."

Connor shook his head. "N-not really…I'm not playing the solo for the concert or anything."

"Well you should be," Jared said, standing and walking toward him.

Connor blinked a few times as Jared was suddenly taking hold of his violin. He rarely if ever let non-musicians handle it, but he couldn't seem to find the willpower to either stop Jared or put the violin away himself.

With great care, Jared took his instrument and bow and laid them on the bed, then walked back to him. He grasped Connor's left hand and turned it over in his open palm. "What did I tell you—you have great hand coordination." His thick fingers flitted over Connor's more slender ones. They paused to feel each fingertip, lingering in the faint grooves from the violin strings.

Connor closed his eyes, his mind reeling. Jared stood far too close, and the touching was beyond any contingency he'd ever planned for. If he didn't keep a grip on himself, his body might decide to do something without his consent. Something he'd never live down. Something that would force him to drop out of school and move to a cabin in the middle of the woods, where he wouldn't have to face this ultimate humiliation ever again.

"Your fingers are so nice," Jared murmured. "Mine are like bear paws…"

Still hiding behind closed lids, Connor didn't realize a tear had slipped out until a rough thumb brushed his cheek. And he certainly didn't realize how impossibly close Jared had gotten until he felt pressure against his lips—soft, pliable skin, sliding over his, with the hint of a tongue begging for entry into his mouth.

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