Thirteen-year-old Nina sang a little tune as she danced around the velvety green lawn among the red roses and purple bougainvilleas. Her voice sounded like that of a happily twittering bird as it floated in the breeze with sun-coloured butterflies. Her mother was watering the plants and exclaimed, “You sound so good! Let’s find you a fine teacher, who can cultivate your voice and make it have the best nightingale sound. ”
Because Nina was rather nervous, her mum had to carefully search until she located a kind and sympathetic instructor. That’s how the soft-spoken Mr. Prasad came to become Nina’s voice teacher.
With his gentle dreamy smile and tender eyes behind his round glasses, Mr. Prasad welcomed the young girl into his studio. “Make yourself comfortable on that chair. Let me hear your pretty voice,” he said. She started to sing ‘Twinkle twinkle little star’. Leaning back against the palms of his hands, her teacher shut his eyes for a moment and sighed, “Lovely! I can help you to sound even better. I hope you don’t mind that my studio is a bit disorganized. My books are strewn all over the place. You see, I’m a very easygoing person.”
“Oh that’s great, sir. Very strict teachers make me nervous,” said Nina.
“I’m quite the opposite. You will enjoy your lessons.” They laughed together.
Then, he played his piano and asked her to sing along with him. They sang many charming songs from famous Disney musicals. It all went well until a door creaked and a dog walked in. “This is Mozart, my dog. Don’t worry about him. He loves music!” said Mr Prasad.
“Oh wow!,” exclaimed Nina, as she looked at the big, heavy brown dog. The dog settled down on a little rug in front of her. Sniffing her jeans, he licked them. “I dropped some ice cream on my clothes. He’s tasting them,” said Nina with a giggle.
Mr Prasad smiled. “Dogs smell food. But he is beyond that, he’s a super dog. He has a very refined taste for music. That’s why I named him Mozart after the great composer. Do you know who Mozart was?”
“Oh yes, wasn’t he a musical genius from Austria who wrote hundreds of great tunes?”
“Exactly, he was brilliant. My Mozart might even be a reincarnation of that maestro. He has a fine ear for good music and hates bad music.”
As they sang, the dog gave a howl. “Is he okay?” asked Nina.
“Yes, he does that when someone sings slightly under pitch. So, his howl reminds you to sing in a clear tone exactly on pitch. Isn’t that amazing?” said Mr Prasad. Nina giggled.
Their lesson went well. The young teenager came home beaming with some new songs and voice exercises that she had learned from her teacher. Her mother was relieved that Nina looked happy.
In her next lesson at the studio, Nina sang many famous movie tunes guided by Mr Prasad. The dog walked in again and settled down on that same rug. Nina guessed he was going to be there for all her lessons. Not paying much attention to him, she sang the scales and songs with her teacher until she heard the dog give a slight bark. “Mozart,” she said, gently patting his head.
The dog looked at her intently with his huge brown eyes. Standing up, he walked to the door. “Is he alright?” asked Nina. “He looks a bit angry.”
“He’s fine, he’s just reminding us that the lesson is over,” said the teacher, looking at his watch.
As soon as Mr Prasad showed Nina to the door, the dog wagged his tail. “Bye, Mozart,” said the girl. The animal walked up to her and gave her hand a lick.
“He’s saying, “See you soon in your next lesson,” said her teacher.
Nina went home and sang the tunes that she had practiced with him. “Is Mr Prasad kind and sweet?” asked her mother.
“Yes mummy, my teacher is wonderful,” replied Nina.
The next time before her lesson, she asked him if they could sing some supernatural tunes. “I saw a Dracula movie and would like to learn that song,” she said excitedly. Mr Prasad tapped his cheek with his finger and frowned.
“We have to be careful with that, Nina. Mozart doesn’t like Dracula or supernatural tunes,” he said.
“Do we have to sing what the dog likes?” asked Nina, pulling a face.
“Best to do that. He’s a musical maestro and knows what is good music. Why don’t we sing something else instead of Dracula songs?”
So, Nina went home a little disappointed that she couldn’t sing the tune she wanted. “The teacher says his dog doesn’t like it and so I shouldn’t sing it,” said the young disappointed girl to her mother.
“Pets can be a little wild, maybe the teacher wants to protect you,” replied her mum. “Mr Prasad seems a good teacher. It’s hard to find one like him. Stick with him. You’re already sounding really good, darling. Maybe you could give Mozart a dog biscuit and that will calm him doiwn.”
So taking her mum’s suggestion, Nina presented the dog with a biscuit in her next lesson. To her astonishment, he growled and backed off instead of eating the biscuit. “That’s very strange, I thought dogs loved these milk biscuits,” she said.
“Not Mozart, he’s a music maestro,” replied her teacher with a proud smile.
Nina found it strange that Mr Prasad did not scold his dog for growling at such a kind gesture from her. She did her best to continue studying, trying to learn to sing better from her teacher and to improve. However each time, the animal got a little bolder and more aggressive during her lessons. Then before she knew it, she was singing only the songs that would make Mozart wag his tail, not stare at her angrily, howl or growl.
As lessons went by, Mr Prasad told her it was time for her to have a concert. “Your voice is sounding so good! I’d like you to sing on stage in front of people,” he said.
“But sir, I also feel like singing other songs that I like, not just the tunes that please Mozart,” protested his student, pouting.
“Your wish might very well be fulfilled. The timing looks right. You see, I’m dropping Mozart off tomorrow at the vet for surgery. It’ll take him some time to rest and recover. So, my dear, you see when he’s not here, we can break all the rules and sing anything,” said Mr Prasad chuckling. Nina’s eyes lit up.
That’s how in the next few days while the dog was at the hospital, the teacher and student worked on many of the other songs that Nina liked. The young girl loved singing them.
Then came the day of the concert. Standing on stage in her cute pink frilly dress with her black wavy hair tied in a shiny matching satin rose-colored ribbon, Nina sang to an audience in a little theatre. Her mother sat in the front seat beside her teacher, both beaming. People clapped loudly enjoying her singing.
It was while she sang her Dracula song that she heard an angry bark and noticed that Mozart, the dog, was there. As she continued her song, his bark got louder until it echoed through the theatre. Mr Prasad got up and gently led the animal out of the hall. In relief, the girl continued her singing.
When the concert was over, people congratulated Nina. One of these audience members commented about the barking animal. “Good thing the dog was led out of the theatre. His barking was ruining the show,” he said.
After the performance, Nina walked out of the hall with her mother. They carried fresh glowing flower bouquets given to the girl by those who loved her singing. As they both stepped out of the theatre, they saw Mr Prasad. He walked toward them with Mozart on a leash. As soon as the dog saw Nina, he started barking in rage. He growled and bared his teeth at her. Straining against the leash, he tried to bite her. The girl pulled back, gasping in fear. Her mother was horrified.
“Mr Prasad, your dog is completely out of control. Please stop him!” she screeched.
“Well madam, he isn’t just a dog, but a musical genius. He’s rightfully offended that your daughter broke all good music rules and sang the wrong repertoire. Come on, how can you blame him for being upset?”
“We came to ‘you’, not to the dog to help my daughter with her voice, sir. That animal has gone too far and not only disrupted her lessons but also her stage recital!” said Nina’s mother angrily. And why on earth would you bring such an uncontrollable beast to any concert?”
“Madam, Mozart goes with me to ‘every’ musical event! Consider yourselves to be honoured by his brilliant presence.”
“Honoured by all this disturbance?” asked the mother in disbelief.
“Yes. Nina is very lucky to get the guidance of the very reincarnation of the original Mozart! Can you both not appreciate such a privilege?” yelled the teacher, his usually quiet eyes now like two glaring balls of fire..
The girl’s mother gave a frozen laugh and said calmly, “Mr Prasad, I now fully understand how important that badly behaved animal is to you. Unfortunately, I see he’s far from being a friendly pet that one could actually like. Please be proud of your dog maestro,” she said, pulling a face. “I wish him great success. But right now my Nina needs a good voice teacher, not an overbearing canine.”
“Exactly mummy,” said Nina in relief.