06 September 2003

Story: Practice Makes Perfect

First story in the Practice Makes Perfect mini series.  Amy's new music instructor (also her classmate) has an interesting strategy to help her remember to practice.

Practice Makes Perfect
by Breanna Carter

At the end of my freshman year, I was granted permission to be in the advanced orchestra the next year under the condition that I practiced hard over the summer and got private lessons. Well, I did half of what I agreed to. I practiced every night, literally, until the tips of my fingers were numb and I couldn’t press down on the strings anymore. I mean, what else did I have to do? I learned all these tricky rhythms. After all, it was nifty for a sophomore to be in the advanced orchestra, since most of the people in there were juniors and seniors who had played their instruments their entire lives.

The year began before I knew it and I was filled with anxiety and excitement about the new year. That was the year that my teacher decided to do a new thing. She told us that we were going to buddy up, preferrably juniors and seniors would be paired with the lowerclassmen, but since there weren’t very many of us, it wouldn’t be so possible. She told us that the person we would be paired with would kind of like a guide. They would let us know what we needed to practice and help us out with some tricky stuff. She paired us in the order of chairs we were in. There were 6 people in my section. I was fourth chair, which I was very pleased about. I was paired with the guy who sat in the first chair, our section leader. His name was Jeremy and he was a senior that grinned a lot and wore baggy jeans and T-shirts and had semi-long hair that fell down to his nose. It seemed as if everybody in the orchestra knew him well from his great sense of humor and awesome personality. Apparently, I was lucky to be paired with him. My friends told me so themselves.

Thus, the year began.

The beginning was easy. We practiced on the music to try out for allstate and played a couple of songs that weren’t too hard. It wasn’t until after allstate tryouts that I started having trouble playing. I wanted to cry sometimes because I couldn’t play the music. Whenever Jeremy and I were in the practice rooms as once a week we were assigned to, I felt bad because he played so well and I couldn’t do it. But he was always nice about it. He never insulted me, just showed me how to play it, told me where my fingers went, and played it over and over to drill the sound in my head.

“I can’t do it,” I whined one particular day.

“Sure you can. Look, just take it slowly.” He played the measures slowly then invited me to do with him, but it was futile. I couldn’t do it. We worked and worked and worked on that song until I felt the light of inspiration on me. He grinned widely and I was so happy that I finally got the song down that I jumped up and down for a moment and then we played the whole song, and I only messed up once or twice! It was so nifty. “Told ya that you could do it,” he said, punching me playfully and looking at his watch. “Holy shit!” he muttered.

“What?” I said.

“It’s 4:15. We must’ve missed the bell ring. How come nobody told us!” he said, immediately putting his instrument in his case while I stood there in utter shock.

“It’s 4:15?” I asked, my heart racing inside of me. Orchestra was the last class of the day and it was over at 3:30 and I caught the bus and... “But that means that I missed my bus..” I stammered.

He closed his case. “Missed your bus? Oh yeah. Forgot you were a sophomore,” he said, smacking himself on the head.

I, on the other hand was panicking. “How am I going to get home!” I muttered, wanting to throw my own instrument down on the ground and watch it smash into pieces.

“Hey hey now, it’s okay, little one,” he said, patting my head. “Where do you live?”

I pointed. “That way.”

“That tells me a lot.” He took my instrument from me and placed it in its case then said, “I’ll give you a ride home if you promise me that you’ll practice the other song and have it perfected by next week.”

“But I can’t..”

“Fine, you can walk.”

I gave him an evil look. “Fine, fine. I’ll practice. It’ll be perfect. You don’t mind giving me a ride?” I said, the excitement welling up inside of me. The only thing I could think was that this hott senior guy was giving me a ride home!

“No, it’s no problem. As long as you don’t live too far away.”

“I don’t,” I said, explaining to him where my neighborhood was.

“Oh, that’s awesome,” he said. “That’s by where I live.” He handed me my case then opened the door for me leading me out of the practice room and through the small hallway, then the classroom, and finally the outside hallway where our lockers were. I shoved my instrument into the locker and slammed the door shut. He then lead me outside into the bright sunlight where only a few students still mingled around outside. He stopped and talked to a few of them, introducing me as his “sophomore buddy” and then we approached a blue car. My mouth dropped. It was a really nice car. I didn’t know what kind it was, didn’t really care. He unlocked the doors with his automatic control thingy and I hopped inside and sat down on the tan leather. I oooed to myself as he cranked the engine and the loud music blared in my ears.

“Sorry,” he said. “I jammed on the way to school.” He turned it down a little and I noticed that it was a band I liked a lot. We didn’t talk much of the ride. Every now and then he’d make sure he was going the right way, ask me about my classes, and once he asked me if I took private lessons.

“No,” I replied.

“Why not? With a little of those, you could be great!” he said.

I shrugged. “I don’t want to, I guess.”

“Why not?”

I rolled my eyes. “I dunno. I don’t have the money, or the time..” but both of us knew I was just making up excuses. “Besides, the last teacher I had was bitchy.”

“Ahhh,” he said, nodding.

“That’s the house,” I said, pointing.

“Well hey,” he said, pulling into the driveway, “I’d be happy to give you some lessons, and it’s fine with me if you don’t pay me. I mean, you know, it’d be more logical seeing as I don’t have a degree in teaching. But maybe you could do that and next year you’ll be first chair?”

I smiled. “Maybe,” I said, bringing myself back to reality.

“Just think about it.”

I nodded and got out of the car.

“See ya later!” he said.

“Bye.”

The entire night I thought about what Jeremy had said. I mean, honestly, he and I didn’t know each other that well, and it was kind of strange being taught private lessons by someone who was only two years older than me. But he was really good at what he did, and maybe he could help me a little. I decided if he brought it up I’d go for it, and silently prayed that night that he’d bring it up.

And sure enough he did. We decided on a day that would be good for both of us and we stayed after school to work on the music that we’d gotten. And I improved tremendously. Not only did Jeremy recognize it, but so did my teacher. And the rest of the people in my section. The cool part was that midterms were coming up and with the beginning of a new semester comes new seating arrangements, and if I kept up the good work I was sure to make first or second chair, according to Jeremy. I didn’t see how I could manage to make first chair seeing as Jeremy was my teacher, but it didn’t matter. The thought of being second chair and sitting right next to him all the time was a very nice thought. My crush on him was growing more and more as the days passed...

“You gotta practice it, Amy. First stand is tough competition...”

“I know I know,” I said, having heard this lecture three or four times already. “I’ll practice. I’ve just been busy lately.” Right, if busy meant lazy. I hadn’t felt like practicing. I felt like watching tv for hours. I hadn’t even done my homework..

“Okay. Look. Tomorrow, I want this to be more together than it is now, okay? We’re going to have a lesson.”

I nodded. Yay! Another lesson! More time with Jeremy!

We went through the song two more times until Jeremy was too irritated with my lack of practice to go any further. He took me home, as always, and I promised that I’d practice hard and make him proud the next day. He smiled the most adorable smile and said I better then we left it at that.

The problem was, I didn’t practice much that night. I practice enough to get the first half sounding good, but the rest sounded terrible. I didn’t have it in me. I didn’t really care what chair I was anymore.

But Jeremy did.

That day in orchestra he told me that we’d have to go by his house to have the lesson that evening because the practice rooms were being used up. Apparently, one day out of the week the band students had private lessons in those rooms. It just happened to be that it was that night. I told Jeremy that I didn’t mind extending the date to a later time, but he said no, that it would be fine to have it at his house. It didn’t bother me that much. I didn’t want to argue, cause I really wanted to spend the evening with him, and at his house, that meant I could stay later if it called for it.

Oh, and it did call for it.

We walked through the hallway traffic and stopped next to some of his friends who knew me as “sophomore” or “sophy” for short. They talked for a little while, every now and then acknowledging my presence. I was shy enough as it was, but putting me around seniors made me even more shy. Some of his friends complimented on that, saying that seniors shouldn’t be spoken to by underclassmen unless they are spoken to first. We finally made it through the mass of people and ended up in front of his car. We spoke to each other the entire way to his house, and even sang along to some music. I was feeling more and more comfortable around him.

We pulled into the driveway of a small townhouse. He explained to me that he lived there with his brother who wasn’t there often because he had to work so much. He told me that his brother was a nurse at one of the hospitals in town and was going to start his training to be a doctor once he had the money. He could afford a much nicer house, but he was saving up. Jeremy was kicked out of the house by his dad at the beginning of the school year because of some personal issues concerning religion that Jeremy would rather have not talked about. But he lived with his brother now in the cozy townhouse, and his brother wouldn’t let him work but made sure that instead he finished up high school in good standings so he could get a scholarship. And Jeremy was doing just that.

I walked inside and Jeremy fixed us both a Coke and then he kind of showed me around, although there wasn’t much to see. The living room was small, and the kitchen was smaller, in a room next to the kitchen was a bigger room that was Jeremy’s. His room was filled with posters and it wasn’t exactly in the neatest condition, but it would do. There was a spiral staircase next to Jeremy’s room in the living room that led upstairs to another bedroom that was his brother’s.

“And that’s that,” he said, grinning and telling me to have a seat. I sat myself on the couch in front of a tv and he brought a chair into the middle of the room and sat a stand in front of me. “Just let me hear you, and then we’ll work on finding out where to sit.”

A nervous pit began to form in my stomach. I honestly didn’t want him to be angry at me... But I figured maybe the bit of practice I had gotten from class earlier that day would make it sound better.

I was wrong. I messed up the entire rhythm and played so many wrong notes. By the end of my playing Jeremy had a calm look on his face, but I knew that he was really disappointed inside.

“I thought...” he began.

I nodded.

“I thought you were going to practice this last night?”

“I did,” I defended.

He raised his eyebrows. “And it sounds like that? That wasn’t much better than what you played for me yesterday.”

I shrugged. “I guess that uhm, it didn’t help to practice.”

“Bullshit,” he said. “I guess you didn’t practice enough.”

“Maybe not,” I shrugged.

“Look, I’m trying to help YOU out by these lessons, Amy. I’m not doing this for entertainment or putting you down.”

I nodded.

“You promised you were going to practice.”

“I know. I’m sorry.”

“You were sorry last time you didn’t practice.” He paused for a moment. “Obviously you haven’t learned your lesson.”

“No, please Jeremy. I have. I really have. Don’t stop giving me lessons... please.”

“Oh, I’m not going to stop giving you lessons. But I’m going to teach you one that you’ll never forget,” he said, standing from the chair and moving the stand back. “Stand up.” I did as told, anxious. He sat down on the couch where I had previously been, right in the middle. “Pull your pants down.”

I blinked. “Huh?”

“Pull your pants down.”

“...Why?”

“I told you. I’m going to teach you a lesson that you won’t forget.”

I blinked again and stood there for a moment. I was snapped out of it whenever I saw the angry look on his face and decided to comply, still not aware of what exactly he was going to do. I unbuttoned my pants and unzipped them, then kind of stood there and stared at him for a moment.

“Fine, that’ll do,” he said, grabbing my left arm and pulling me over his lap. He pulled my pants down to my knees. It was then that the realization hit me.

“Wait, you’re not going to...?” my voice trailed off. He was going to spank me? I hadn’t been spanked since I was a kid! And I didn’t even remember it!

I felt his thumbs on the wasteband of my panties and felt them slide down my legs to where my jeans were.

“Nooooo!” I nearly screamed. “Jeremy... look... I...”

“Stop it, Amy. You promised me that you would practice and you broke that promise and now’s your time to pay for it. Now stop whining like a 5 year old.”

I gulped, swallowing my pleas.

He placed his hand down on my tingling bottom. “This isn’t the first time I’ve warned you on practicing.”

I nodded.

“I’m very disappointed in you.”

My bottom was still tingling, even as he lifted his hand and I felt the breeze for a split second then his hand smacked my bottom and I screamed because I wasn’t expecting it to sting so much.

“Owwwwwwwww!”

“Not so loud,” he said, the anger seemed to have gone from his voice. And for a minute, I thought he was finished. I was wrong.

SMAACK!!!

I whined again, not as loud as the last time. He didn’t give me a chance to breathe this time, but instead kept on spanking me rapidly. I heard him saying something to me but I couldn’t make out what it was because I was embarassed and in pain all at the same time. I never knew how much spankings could hurt, but I said nothing more than ouch or ow. After a while his smacks died down and my bottom felt like it was on fire. Finally he stopped and rested his hand on my still tingling, but now with warmth, bottom.

“I’m sorry,” I blubbered.

“Me too,” he said, rubbing my bottom slightly. I lay there regaining my composure for a few minutes. “Okay... here’s the deal. First, you play the notes without worrying about rhythm. For every note you miss, you earn yourself one smack. Then, you play the rhythm correctly without worrying the notes and for every mistake, one smack. Then we’ll do each over until you’ve done it perfectly then we’ll try them both together. I’ll give you your punishment after you’ve done both playing the notes and playing the rhythm each time.”

I nodded, actually kind of liking the idea. It was a comfortable position over his lap like this.

He stood me back up and I hurridly pulled my pants and underwear back up. I played the piece, still messing up from my nervousness, but making up for it whenever I did my rhythm. I had earned myself 50 more smacks. I asked if I could try again, and just compile them together and Jeremy said that was fine and I tried to breathe and steady my shaking hands. I sat on my still stinging bottom and tried again, this time earning 60 smacks. He stood up and walked towards me, then told me to sit my instrument down on his chair, and then he sat down in my spot. Once again I lowered my pants and he took down my panties and he proceeded to spank me 110 times as I tried to count in my head. I lost count after 20, beginning to kick and squirm being warned periodically to stop or he’d add more.

“Owwwwww!” I whined, trying not to let any tears fall from my eyes. “I’m sorryyyyy. I won’t mess up. Ow. Ow!”

I heard him say something but my mind was concentrating on the pain and wondering if it was close to being over.

Finally he ended with a loud and hardest SMACK! and let me up. I wasn’t in as much of a hurry to cover myself this time as my bottom stung greatly.

“Pull them up and sit down, Amy,” Jeremy commanded. “I want you to feel how much it stings whenever you sit down and think about that next time you neglect to practice.” I did as I was told and winced a bit at the pain I felt.

The next time I did a little better, making only 42 mistakes. I asked if we could make it only 40, so it could be a round number, and he said no, that 50 would be more appropriate. I shut up after that.

We repeated the procedure, my bottom still ablaze from the two previous spankings. This one was short and quick compared to the other two, but my bottom stung like crazy whenever I sat back down on it.

The next time I only earned myself 17 smacks, and how I managed that I have no idea. He emphasized on me how proud he was that I was improving and that if this had to be something we did every lesson than he’d sure do it. I protested by saying, “no that’s okay,” but he only grinned and turned me back over his knee to administer the spanking.

The next time went better and since I only made 5 mistakes he told me that we could skip that spanking and go onto the next round where I tried to see if I could get both the rhythm and the notes right. I tried my damndest, and messed up so badly that I looked at him with pleading eyes.

“See what happens whenever you don’t practice?”

“I-I’m sorry,” I muttered, not wanting to let these tears fall from my eyes. My bottom still stung like crazy and I had let him down so much.

He nodded. “You’ve done well today,” he said. “I didn’t count the number of mistakes you made the last time you played, but it was a good many and you know that. I think that I should send you home with a little reminder of what will happen next week if you aren’t prepared.”

He was going to go on and say more, but I nodded silently.

“Good girl,” he said and I stood up, already accustomed to this. I let my jeans fall to the floor then positioned myself over his lap and clenched my eyes tightly together as he lowered my panties and I could feel the gentle breeze once again. And as like the other times, I was unable to feel the breeze for too long because before I knew it, his large hand came pounding down on my tiny bottom and I squirmed and kicked and he kept spanking and spanking and before too long I began crying like a baby over his lap, too worn out to kick anymore and too ashamed to do anything other than cry. He finished up with two not so hard smacks then let me lie limply over him crying. I felt his hand lying on my warm bottom and he rubbed it to soothe me and get the sting out for me. I reached back to feel the warmth out of instinct.

“Shhhh, shhhh. Amy, it’s okay, honey,” he said, still rubbing my stinging backside.

I nodded softly while I sobbed into the couch cushions. We stayed like that for a few minutes until he said, “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have spanked you so much.”

“No,” I argued. “It’s okay. I deserved it.”

He didn’t seem convinced but in a few minutes I was picking myself up and he was hugging me tightly. I excused myself to the bathroom where I washed my face off then did something I had been wanting to do since the first time that evening he had spanked me. I tugged my pants and panties down and stared at my glowing red bottom. I felt the warmth for a minute then blushed and pulled my pants back up. I washed my face once more then limped outside. Jeremy hugged me tightly again and handed me my instrument that was already in its case then took me home.

“We’ll do the same thing next lesson,” I said, waving goodbye to him. Before he had the time to argue, I opened the door to my house and disappeared inside with a grin on my face.

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