• Published 14th Jul 2013
  • 1,847 Views, 92 Comments

Song of Silver - GrassAndClouds2



Silver Spoon, desperate to avoid losing to Sweetie Belle, resolves to become a musical prodigy. Hijinks ensue.

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Finding a Teacher


Silver Spoon reached her home and banged through the doors. She usually took care to move with the grace and poise that a pony like her was supposed to demonstrate, but she was too impatient to focus on such things. If she was going to surpass Sweetie Belle and regain her rightful place, she couldn't waste time with things like gently shutting doors. "Daddy!" she called. "Daddy, are you awake?"

"In here, my little gem!"

Silver Spoon hurried into the dining room, where she saw her father reading his morning papers. Sterling Silver's eyes flicked between the business sections of the Canterlot Times, the Manehattan Chronicle, and some Fillydelphia paper that Silver Spoon didn't know. There was also a geology magazine, open to an article on the Castplay Mountains. No sooner had Silver Spoon entered the room, though, that her father looked up from his papers and his morning oats and turned to his daughter. "Silver! Come here." He gestured, and a servant stepped out of the corner of the room and slid a chair out for her. "How are you today?"

"I'm doing very well, daddy," said Silver Spoon. She sat in the chair and looked at the papers for a few moments. "Are you looking to buy a new a new garnet mine?" Sterling Enterprises was one of the largest dealers in raw and uncut gems and precious metals, and it sold tons and tons of materials to the jewelers and cutters who would turn them into the fashion statements and accessories of the nation. Its mineral and gem holdings were practically unfathomable, but, as Sterling often said, that was no reason to stop expanding. He was always looking for property that could turn a profit, and Silver Spoon knew it.

"Yes," said Sterling. He blinked. "Er, how...?"

"Garnets are popular in Fillydelphia, and red in general is fashionable in Manehattan right now," said Silver Spoon. She smiled, always happy for any chance to demonstrate her intellectual abilities. "And Sterling Enterprises bought three of its last four mines in the Catsplays. So, when I saw what you were reading, it was simple."

Sterling nodded. "Exactly right." He smiled. "You're very familiar with the family business. Well done."

Silver Spoon beamed. Let's see any other foal in town do that! she thought. Now, what else can I figure out? Observing that her father was unshaven, and thus not presentable for company or public viewing, she declared, "And I suppose you're planning to stay in today and research the mine?"

Her father blinked. "Actually, I was going to suggest that we went up to Hoofington. There's a gem show there where I could buy you a bracelet to go with the earrings your Aunt Emerald gave you last week." He paused, and then seemed to guess Silver Spoon's thought process. "Oh, I haven't shaven yet because my razor dulled. I need to buy a new one."

The foal immediately looked away. "Right."

"Don't worry, my little gem. It was a good guess." Her father smiled. "But I'm sure you don't want to talk about business or my personal affairs; that's for adults, and you're still a foal -- no doubt you care more about running around and playing with your friends!" He folded up one of the papers. "Any big adventures planned for today? Are you and Diamond Tiara going to do anything fun?"

"Not today," said Silver Spoon.

"Do you want to go up to Hoofington, then? We could go shopping, and I could take you to that little Prench bakery I know you like." Sterling winked. "I'll let you get a double-chocolate croissant as a reward for all your hard work in school. How does that sound?"

It did sound good to Silver Spoon, but she refused to let this tempt her. "Actually, I had another idea."

"What is it?" Sterling waved for the servant to bring him more orange juice. "Going to try starting another business like that fruit juice stand?"

The foal flushed. She didn't like thinking about her first failed venture, although it had at least taught her a lot about monopolies and why you shouldn't call your only supplier a 'blank flank noodle-nose.' Stupid Apple Bloom. "Actually, I decide that I want to learn to play an instrument." She nodded. "I'd like to start music lessons today."

"That sounds like a wonderful idea!" said Sterling Silver. "I think you would really enjoy lessons. I've always known you had an artistic bent."

Silver Spoon recovered her smile.

"I think Bluenote has a few openings; I'll leave her a message today. What instrument do you want to play?" Sterling began to make a note on a little sheet of paper. "If it's piano, I can ask Medley to come tune up the grand. If not, we can go later and I can buy you whatever you want."

Silver Spoon paused, one word of her father's speech sticking in her mind. "Bluenote?"

"You're always talking about how much you like her music. She teaches foals too, so I think she'd be a perfect match." Sterling Silver chuckled. "And, between you and me, I've always had a warm spot for her ever since she cheered you up when you skinned your knee last summer."

"I like her music, but..." Silver Spoon paused. She had to beat Sweetie Belle and the other foals; nothing else would allow her to reestablish her place as the best foal in town. Bluenote's music was great, but more importantly, that mare wasn't very competitive. It was well known that Bluenote wasn't as good of a musician as others in Ponyville, but that didn't seem to be bothering her like it would Silver Spoon. No, any Silver-family student would need a teacher that could understand the importance of being the best, the supreme, the number-one contender in her age bracket. Bluenote didn't qualify. "I was thinking of some other teachers. Would it be okay if I asked some of the other musicians in town?"

Sterling nodded. "There should be money on the desk in the front hall if your teacher wants an immediate payment. Let me know how it goes!"

Silver Spoon rose. Great. Daddy will pay for the lessons; now I just need to find a great teacher and learn all I can. I can do it! "Thank you, Daddy! I'll be the best foal musician in town!"

"That's the spirit!" called Sterling Silver. "Have fun!"

Silver Spoon excused herself and scurried out of the dining room. Alright! Just a little more work, and I've got this in the bag!

***

As she trotted through the town, Silver Spoon began making up a list of teachers that she would consider. There were a lot of musicians in town, after all, and she needed to make sure she chose the best one. 'Only the best for the best' was one of her daddy's favorite sayings, usually when he was giving her some new gift, and she wasn't going to let him down by picking a mediocre mare to teach her. "This is for me, after all," Silver Spoon mused. "My teacher has to be perfect."

She began running down the qualifications in her head. Her teacher had be a virtuoso, of course. How could an average musician help to propel Silver Spoon into her obligatory greatness? And her teacher also had to understand Silver Spoon's drive to be the best, and be willing to work with her instead of making stupid comments like 'Rank doesn't matter as long as everypony's having fun', or other silly things that adults had to say to foals who weren't fit for greatness. Lastly, her teacher needed to be willing to work fast. If Sweetie Belle was still better than her, Silver Spoon, by the cutecenara... that would be a disaster. I won't let it happen. I'll find somepony who will help me, and I'll beat her and maintain my position!

Fortunately, there was definitely one such pony whom Silver Spoon knew fulfilled all those criteria. She was a brilliant musician, one who cared very much about surpassing others, and one who worked extremely hard. The foal smiled as she opened the door to this pony's residence. She would go to this pony, sign up for lessons, and would become a great musician. That was all there was to it, and absolutely nothing would stand in her way. She--

She was run over by a turquoise-coated foal blasting past her and dashing out the door.

"Hey! Come back!" a cream-colored pony with blue and purple mane curls raced after her. "You didn't finish picking out your candy yet!"

"Pick whatever you want! I'm feeling lucky!" yelled a voice. Then the foal was gone.

Silver Spoon's eyes rolled about as she struggled to her hooves. "Stupid brat..."

"Are you alright?" Bonbon, the best confectioner in Ponyville, helped Silver Spoon to her hooves. "Sorry about that. Some of my customers are very exciteable, and Tootsie Flute's been so happy about her new cutie mark..."

Bonbon's Bonbons, as usual, smelled of sugar, caramel, and chocolate. Silver Spoon couldn't help a small smile from popping onto her face as the scents brought back memories of parties, and festivals, and late night hot chocolate with Diamond Tiara. She was on a mission, though, and so Silver Spoon forced herself to remain serious. "Never mind."

"Would you like some candy?"

"No."

Bonbon blinked. "Then... um..."

"I'm looking for Miss Octavia, Miss Bonbon."

"She's right over there. You caught her just in time for morning tea."

Silver Spoon turned towards the small dining area, where she saw the gray-coated mare that she was looking for. Octavia had a steaming mug of tea in front of her, but she wasn't drinking it. Rather, she was watching the foals with a bemused expression. "I must say, the foals in this town are so much more rambunctious than those I grew up with," she told Bonbon. "I cannot even imagine being permitted to race about in a store like that."

"You missed out," said Bonbon, pouring herself a cup of hot chocolate. "I grew up in Las Pegasus. There was a big candy store there, with its own playground, and I loved to climb on the jungle gym with a comic book and a candy bar."

"Well, I--"

Silver Spoon clambered up so that she was sitting opposite Octavia. Pay attention to me! This is important! she thought. "Miss Octavia?" she said. "I'd like to take music lessons from you."

Octavia blinked several times. "I could not teach you," she said at last. "I am still a student myself."

"Maybe, but you're one of the best musicians in the area. And everypony knows how good your music is." Silver Spoon beamed. "I would be honored if you taught me even a few things." Let's see, that book on negotiation I borrowed from Golden Oaks recommended flattery here. I think I'm doing it right...

The cellist hesitated. "Well... what is it that you like about my music?" she said at last.

Silver Spoon frowned. Truth be told, she didn't really like Octavia's music -- Bluenote's was more her style -- but Bluenote wouldn't take it seriously enough, and besides, Silver Spoon didn't need to like classical music to surpass Sweetie Belle in it. "I like how you make all the hard parts sound so easy and natural," she said. "It doesn't sound hard to listen to at all, even if it's hard to play." That was a safe answer; almost any musician -- or artist, for that matter -- would likely want such a compliment applied to them.

It certainly seemed to placate Octavia. She nodded a little. "That is something for which I strive. If you too are interested in that quality... I suppose I could begin to teach you--"

Bonbon quickly brought out a pair of cupcakes. "Your first student, right? I think this calls for a celebration."

"I couldn't..."

Bonbon grinned and poked Octavia. "Come on, Tavi. We agreed. One sweet a week, minimum. You're just about due."

"I--"

Silver Spoon coughed. "Um, could we begin my lesson now, please?" she asked. Come on, I don't have time for cupcakes! I need to get good, now! Right away!

Octavia nodded. "Of course. Perhaps for lunch, Bonbon."

"Alright... if you promise you'll have one at lunch."

Octavia nodded, and gestured to the stairs. "We can begin in my room," she told Silver Spoon.

The foal frowned when she saw Octavia's furnishings. She had expected more knickknacks and fancy objects; Octavia was the daughter of a rich duchess, after all. Nonetheless, there were a few expesnive items, the most prominent of which was the cello. Silver Spoon's special talent was appraisal, and she could tell at a glance that the instrument was a work of art and could be valued to match. From the high-quality wood in the instrument to the precise carving of the shape, everything about it screamed class. Perfect. She understands quality. "I'm ready to start!" she announced.

"I assume you wish to learn the cello?" asked Octavia.

Silver Spoon couldn't care less, but she supposed that made sense, given who she wanted to teach her. "Yes!"

"Alright. I will start you just as I began."

Silver Spoon got up and approached the instrument, wondering if Octavia would let her take a turn on it once she'd taught her the secrets. It doesn't even look that hard. It's just moving your hooves and legs in certain patterns to make the sounds. I can master this before the cutecenara, no sweat. In fact, I--

There was a loud thump behind her, and when Silver Spoon turned, she saw a half-dozen thick tomes.

"These are the same theory textbooks that I began with," said Octavia. "A thorough grounding in music theory is an absolutely essential prerequisite for classical music. By understanding the intervals and how different combinations of notes produce different affects, you will be able to understand how the music works. Once you have learned all this theory, composition will be straightforward."

Silver Spoon blinked. "How long will this, uh, 'theory' take?"

"It took me most of a year to master it, although I have been told I was a quick study."

A YEAR?! "And you didn't touch your instrument until that was done?"

"No, I did." Octavia picked up the cello and played one single interval, a deep and low tone. "Every day, for three to four hours, I practiced my intervals and individual notes. When I was done, I could intuitively sense my position on the cello; when I needed to play even a most difficult passage, I knew how to move my bow to perform each and every note. This technical work is the foundation of all that I know."

"But -- but, actual music--"

"Bad habits, once learned, take time to unlearn. If a young musician begins by simply trying to perform in a haphazard way, they may learn some easy pieces, but it will be very difficult later on to play anything even moderately complicated without first discarding all they know and learning the correct methods anew." Octavia turned back to her books, flipping through them to find a certain passage. "I would not advise playing anything more than intervals and scales for at least a year. However, after that period, if you practice diligently, you will find even difficult works to be easily within your grasp. Now -- for the first lesson, let us look at the case of the major third interval. This..."

When she turned, Silver Spoon had vanished.

***

"A year?! I can't wait a year! She's a quack!"

Silver Spoon was trotting through town at a rapid pace. She had stormed out of the candy shop without even buying her favorite, licorice gumdrops. She was too upset to think of candy.

"I don't care about theory! I don't care about any of that! I just want to get good enough to keep my place on..." She trailed off. "It doesn't matter. Octavia doesn't know anything. Who's next on my list?"

After some deliberation, she decided on Vinyl Scratch.The DJ was an extremely popular entertainer, and it was well known that she aspired to nothing less than being the greatest in the world at her craft. And I bet she doesn't have time for stupid 'music theory' stuff. It'll be just getting into her studio and watching her work! Drums are even easier than cello. This shouldn't be hard at all.

Vinyl's house quickly came into view. It looked like an egg with a weird bulge on one side; Silver Spoon had heard this was due to the mare's eccentricities, but wasn't quite sure of what, exactly, those were .Still, it didn't matter. She had money, which Vinyl would probably want, and she had every confidence that the DJ would teach her to play. This would be fine.

As she approached the DJ's door, though, it opened from the other side and bonked her on the muzzle.

"Woah! Sorry, little fella," said Vinyl Scratch, who was balancing a load of records on her back. She quickly helped Silver Spoon up and checked her nose for injuries. "Didn't see you coming. What brings you out this way?"

"Well, I--"

"VINYL! VINYL!" There was a pause. "VINNNNYL!"

Vinyl binked. "Uh."

A teal-coated, yellow-maned pegasus foal scampered up with a large drum balanced on her back. "Vinyl! Vinyl! Vinyl! I came up with a new song!" She hopped from hoof to hoof. "It's gonna be EPIC!"

"Great, Bebop," said Vinyl, though Silver Spoon could hear a hint of frustration in Vinyl's voice. "But I'm on my--"

"Wait, I'll play it!" Bebop got the drum off her back and balanced it in the grass. Vinyl looked at the bottom, where the metal rim was touching the wet dirt, and winced, but Bebop didn't seem to notice. "Alright! Here goes!"

And she began to bang on the drum.

Vinyl was polite enough not to clap her hooves to her ears, but Silver Spoon was not. She tried to block out as much of the sound as she could, though a few painful drum beats broke through. It wasn't music, Silver Spoon thought. It was torture with a drumskin.

"What did you think?" yelled Bebop, when she was done. "Wasn't it AWESOME?"

"It was... energetic," managed Vinyl. "But I--"

"Oh! Hang on!" Bebop jumped in the air, her wings beating frantically. "I got another idea! I'll go write it down! See you soon!" And she blasted off, yelling her head off in joy.

"... is she your student?" Silver Spoon asked.

"She seems to think she is." Vinyl chuckled. "Honestly, I appreciate her enthusiasm. Rare to find a foal so into music like that."

"It sounded horrible," objected Silver Spoon.

"Just needs some refinement. A little discipline, a little practicing, and I think she could do some great stuff. Why, you interested?" Vinyl grinned. "I don't really have any formal students right now, but if you're willing to put up with a somewhat odd schedule, I'm game."

"Sure." I won't be doing it for long anyway. Just as long as she's got time today and tomorrow... "I'd be happy to learn from you."

Vinyl nodded. "Alright... so, what kind of music do you like?"

Silver Spoon hesitated. Who cares? Just teach me what you know! "Your music!" she pronounced.

"But what kind? I do a few different styles, even if I'm a wubstep expert."

"Wubstep, then."

Vinyl hesitated. "Could you list a few pieces that you like?"

Silver Spoon forced herself to stop from yelling at the mare. I'll be paying you, let's just start already! "I don't know their names."

"What about popular artists? I mean, yes, I'm awesome, but what other ones?"

"... what's with all the questions?" asked Silver Spoon.

"I need to know what music you like so I could know what to teach you," said Vinyl Scratch. "I can't just teach you what I like. That'd be unfair to you." She clapped her hooves. "Alright, here's your first assignment." She floated several records off her back and plopped them on Silver Spoon's. "This is a good overview of the genre. Listen to all this music, and pick out your five favorite songs. Write down why you like them, and we'll talk again... let's say next weekend. Once I know what you want, I can figure out how to teach you."

Silver Spoon shook her head quickly. "That doesn't matter to me," she said. "You can teach me anything--"

Vinyl waved this off. "That doesn't work. Music's got to come from the heart. If you don't like it, I won't be able to teach you. I'd just be taking your money for nothing, and that's not how DJ PON-3 works."

She began to rush off again. "Listen to those records!" she called and was gone.

Silver Spoon could only stare in frustration and anger. First Octavia, then Vinyl -- it'll take years to learn anything if I keep having to do all this waiting and studying first! That's not fast enough! I need to be good NOW!

She threw the records to the grass and rushed off. She would find a teacher who would actually teach her. She would.

She'd do it if she had to bother every musician in Ponyville.

Author's Note:

You know how Holmes liked to do his whole Sherlock-scan thing just to show off how bright he was? Silver Spoon likes to do that too. But she's not as good at it. (Although, I bet appraisal is a useful talent for a detective...)

Next time: Silver Spoon begins to resort to more desperate measures. May or may not feature her being eaten by a foal-devouring piano.