Sounds Like Titanic
Jessica Chiccehito Hindman
Contributed by Greta Venegas
Part 1
Summary

This chapter narrates a journey taken by the author, The Composer and his musicians. It not only refers to the musical tours the musicians partake, but where it also applies to the author’s musical journey. It kicks off in a scintillating manner, with the author describing how one can become a famous violinist. Although many people are for the idea that there exists only one path to becoming a renowned violinist, Jessica Chiccehito Hindman, the author, believes there exist two ways. The first path entails being born with musical talent in a city with an excellent music conservatory, beginning lessons early and practicing the violin daily to advance one’s gift. One should be accepted in the world-class conservatory, practice for six to eight hours daily, join auditions, recitals and master classes and defeat many other violinists. He or she should also launch a solo career, be better than other favorite violinists, and remain consistent for the rest of your life without being distracted by other life hobbies. The second way includes playing the violin softly in front of a dead microphone while the CD (compact disc) of a more popular violinist plays in the background toward a clueless audience, and go on tours across all cities in the U.S. and China doing the same; appear on TV broadcasts while doing the same and land gigs to pay your rent and college tuition doing this.

The story proceeds to narrate the ordeal that transpired in the author’s first tour, New York City to Philadelphia. It is The Composer’s birthday, and the other members get to know this when he starts baking a cake which ends in a trash can moments later after their RV hits a bump. The author comes across an article putting forth the question of why many memoirists use the second person in their writing. She believes memoirists do this whenever they’re writing about something traumatic. She adds a new theory that nobody is interested in listening to a memoir written in the first person; therefore prefers using ‘You’ as opposed to ‘I.’

The author narrates her first experience in New York where she meets Rose, an elderly lady, at Penn Station — which is where most people spend the night whenever they have nowhere else to go. Rose gives the author tips on how to stay safe while at the subway. Back in school, the author introduces herself as a music major and it occurs to her that it is no longer some faraway dream. As she listens to other life goals of other kids, Hindman puts forth the idea that she was someone whose upbringing was upper-class enough to make her believe she could make music for a living, but lower-class enough to provide no knowledge of how to do it. She also narrates how her parents believed that tuition shortfalls could be remedied by signing up for the military, which she quits in her letter to the drill sergeant. In her letter, she explains how ROTC (Reserve Officers’ Training Corps) was not for her, and how her parents made her sign up for it to pay for college.

As they prepare for their tour while at the PBS (Public Broadcasting Service) station’s parking lot, Hindman narrates a scenario where The Composer asks them for a hand in manual labor; but what irks her is how The Composer referred to them, as ‘you guys’, even though she had worked for him for two years. She adds that The Composer refers to her as ‘Melissa’ instead of ‘Jessica’ whenever he needs her attention. She further states that he should know her name, as he is supposed to announce it during their tours after performing at every concert.

Hindman goes on to narrate what is perhaps considered as the highlight of the story. They perform on-stage to an audience who hear the soaring sound of a penny whistle producing a high-pitched wail of Celine Dion’s ‘My Heart Will Go On’ from the film, Titanic. She narrates how the audience enjoys the sound of piano and violins but nobody, except The Composer’s music members, see him press the Play button on a portable CD player he had bought earlier that morning (Hindman, 2019, p. 13).

The author describes how she got her job after having received a phone call from The Composer’s ensemble assistant manager, Becca Belge. She was excited that her lifelong dream had finally become a reality, and put effort into practicing for an audition that she expected to be asked to perform. To her surprise, she was handed a W-4 tax form, which meant she had already been hired, with no interview.Hindman, in her memoir, then goes on to explain who The Composer is. According to the Internet, he has sold millions of albums with his benefit albums hitting number-one on the Classical Billboard chart. He has also performed with orphans in Africa, sponsored by the U.S. to spread goodwill in communist countries, and provides CDs to American Soldiers in the Middle East (Hindman, 2019, p. 17). Furthermore, within fifteen years, he has released over thirty albums of his composition.

Analysis

This chapter presents a theme of musical journey partaken by the author, Jessica Chiccehito Hindman, The Composer, and his musicians. The idea presented is broad, as the journey represents the musical tours they took across cities in the United States — as well as the author’s own musical journey. The Composer is the leader of the group, and the journey and the majority of events narrated in this chapter take place in his RV, and at the concert locations where they ‘perform’.

The author’s musical journey is also a vital theme represented in this chapter, as she narrates her ordeals, and everything she underwent, to get to where she is at — that is, becoming one of The Composer’s musicians. Originally from Appalachia, Hindman was so desperate to raise money for her tuition at Columbia University that she even donated her eggs. Her parents made her sign-up for the military to cater for her tuition shortfalls — even though she ended up quitting, citing that “it was not her thing”. As a result, she had to seek a job and live on a budget to cater for her college tuition. Fortunately, she got hired by The Composer, although the entire ensemble was a fraud.

Another theme represented in this chapter is fakery. This is evident in the scene where The Composer plays a CD player he had bought from Walmart with instrumentals similar to that of Celine Dion’s ‘My Heart Will Go On’, the Titanic soundtrack. While on-stage, the microphones are switched off and The Composer’s musicians play along to the Titanic soundtrack. His musicians are the only witnesses to the fakery, but the audience applauds them, unaware of what went on. This theme is also evident when Hindman gets hired without an interview, even though she had put in the work to prepare for her audition.

The author’s style of writing in the second person, ‘You’, instead of the first person, ‘I’, also portrays fakery. She does this due to her belief that nobody would be interested in reading a memoir written in the first person, especially when writing about something traumatic. Although all the events narrated in the story are real, referring to herself as ‘You’ is perhaps among the most evident forms of fakery represented in the memoir.

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