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Again, Josefina! is part of the Short Stories collections.
Story SummaryIt was a cold evening and the family was gathered in the family sala. Josefina was supposed to be knitting, but she couldn’t help but admire the piano Tía Dolores had brought with her from Mexico City. Tía Dolores asks Josefina if she loved the piano and Josefina says yes. Papá and the other sisters ask Tía Dolores to play a song. Tía Dolores complies, and her song entrances the entire family. As Josefina watched her aunt play, she longed to play music as well.
When the song ended, Josefina asked her Aunt if she could teach her how to play the piano. Tía Dolores looked pleased and aid she’d be glad to teach her if she got her Papá’s permission. Papá thinks it over and reminds Josefina she had many responsibilities, including looking after Antonio, and asks her if she would be able to take lessons alongside her other responsibilities. Josefina says yes, but Papá tells her how difficult it was to play the piano and how much effort it involved. He asks Josefina if she was prepared to work hard because if she wasn’t serious, she’d only be wasting her Aunt’s time. Josefina promises to do her best, earning her Papá’s permission.Tía Dolores says she already knew how good a student Josefina was while teaching the girls how to read and write, and Ana adds that Josefina was the best student out of all of them. Josefina tried to hide her pleased smile, knowing what Ana said was true and being quite proud of it. Tía Dolores asks the other girls if they wanted to earn the piano, but they all decline. Ana didn’t want to be the center of attention, Francisca preferred to dance at parties then play music, and Clara found making music to be too impractical. Tía Dolores tells Josefina they’ll begin lessons tomorrow morning, and Josefina is confident, excited and eager to make music like her Aunt.
Josefina wondered if all her piano lessons were going to be as long and discouraging as her first day. Learning to play the piano was much harder then Josefina expected; there was a lot to remember, her Aunt was very strict, and instead of playing music, she played the same ten notes over and over again. Josefina kept on making mistakes and the more she worried about making a mistake, the more mistakes she made. Josefina was sure her Aunt thought she was terrible, but at the end of the lesson Dolores seemed cheerful enough. She tells Josefina the best way to improve was to practice between lessons. That afternoon, when Josefina had to take care of Antonio, she tried putting him to sleep so she could practice. However, the boy wasn’t tired and wouldn’t let Josefina play the piano when she was supposed to lay with him.
Over the next few weeks, it didn’t get easier to find the time to practice and lessons only got harder. Josefina began to dread her lessons as she felt Tía Dolores was getting sick of her mistakes. One day, Josefina rushed through her chores to get some extra time with the piano before helping with dinner. She tried to play the same tiresome, tuneless exercise, but kept on making mistakes.She heard giggling behind her and saw Francisca pretending to dance to Josefina’s music, Clara standing nearby hiding her giggles. Josefina stopped playing and her sisters tease her to keep on playing so Francisca could finish her dance. Usually Josefina could laugh along with her sisters, but her frustration and disenchantment with the piano boiled over. She tells them to stop and Francisca says they were just having fun with her music. Josefina says that the music wasn’t fun for her due to all her mistakes. The sisters glance at each other and Clara reminds Josefina that Papá warned her about this. She tells Josefina to face the fact that musi didn’t come to Josefina as fast as reading and writing did. Josefina couldn’t stand to hear another word, though she knew Clara was right, and she ran out of the room and out to the stream.
She sulked there, angry at everyone including herself for being such a failure, until Papá came out to check on her. Josefina tells him she wanted to quit her lessons, but Papá says it would be disrespectful of her to quit after Tía Dolores was generous enough to spend time teaching her. Josefina explains she wanted to quite because she was so bad, but Papá firmly says Josefina just had to practice more. When Josefina says she couldn’t find the time, He tells her to look harder.
Josefina decided the only way to practice was to double task: she’d practice the hand motions and memorize the notes during her chores. After a few days, Josefina was a little better and Tía Dolores rewarded her by giving her a short song to learn. Josefina was pleased to finally make music, but when she played her fingers stumbled and lost the tune. One afternoon, Josefina had some extra time before looking after Antonio, so she practiced the song.Ana comes in with Antonio and Josefina hugs her nephew, admitting she was happy to stop playing as she only made mistakes. Josefina admits she’d like to give up since if she couldn’t play well, she didn’t want to play at all. Ana says she hoped Josefina wouldn’t give up, haven noticed her sister trying to practice during chores. She suggests that Josefina try to play the song for Antonio before leaving.
Josefina warns Antonio she would probably play so badly she’d make him cry. When she played, Antonio crowed with delight and tried to dance with the music. Josefina tried to pick him up when he fell over, but he got up by himself and said “Again, Josefina! Again!” Josefina was happy to see someone liked her music, and kept playing her song. Antonio began dancing, even though he was terrible at it and kept falling. Watching him, Josefina realized that no one expected Antonio to walk perfectly as he was just learning. No one expected Josefina to play perfectly either as she was just learning too. Josefina felt happier and stopped worrying about her mistakes.
She was surprised to hear clapping and she turned around to see Papá. He smiled and stated it didn’t sound like Josefina wanted to give up music. Josefina says that she changed her mind, after seeing how much Antonio liked the song Tía Dolores aught her. Papá asks if he could hear the song, and Josefina grins and says she was happy to play again.
Meet The Author
Valerie talks about her difficulty to play the clarinet when she was Josefina's age.
Looking Back: Rancho Life in 1824
Discusses the importance of music and dancing in New Mexico. Topics include:
- Why settlers counted on musicians and music.
- Occasions which were celebrated with a fandango, and what happened on the day of a fandango.
- The different dances that were performed during a fandango, including vals de la escoba and vals chiquiao.
- What children were taught through music, stories, sayings, and poems.
- What musicians used for instruments, and the songs they would sing in exchange for lodging and food.
- The overall pride of learning how to play an instrument.
Activity: Dance La Vaquerita
Describes how to dance La Vaquerita.