Madame Varycoze, she of the perpetually pained expression, only ever exhibited three responses to the musical performances of her pupils: total silence; a nostril quivering sniff of unequivocal disdain; or a grudging "is not bad" hissed from between clenched teeth.
They said you could hear a pin drop as I huffed and puffed the final notes of Claudio Angina's 'Fantasia for SolitaryTuba (bruscamente).' The pin was not the only thing to drop, either. Madame's face also fell, along with the temperature in the room and my self-confidence.
I had practiced for several weeks beforehand: my tiny hands become claw-like from grappling with the unwieldy instrument; my face resembling that of a disgruntled whale sucking on a particularly sour shoal of plankton.
All for nought, as it turned out, since Madame turned on her heel and, without a word, stalked out of the room. A balled up piece of paper hit me on the side of the head. "That sounded like a bunch of farts" was written on it in red pen. Its authorship remains a mystery to me to this day.
The fallen pin finally settled into a crack in the floorboards. Eventually the temperature in the room returned to normalt. And at some point Madame's face probably regained its facade of icy composure. But confidence in my abilities to charm the ears of an audience with harmonic blasts on a brass instrument never recovered. Such is my reason for not playing the tuba.