Solve-it #31: The Case of the Missing Music

featuring Nina Chase and Max Decker

Max and his cousin Nina were heading for the school band room when Max stopped to mop his brow. He had left his trumpet behind after band practice, but he needed it to practice for tomorrow’s music test. He would be tested on sight-reading, playing music you were looking at for the first time. Max planned to play every piece of music in his band folder to get ready.

“I’m glad school has started again,” Max said to Nina as they walked, “but I sure wish we had air conditioning in our classrooms. Ninety degrees of heat is just too much.”

“Don’t let it make you hot under the collar,” Nina said, giving him a poke with her clarinet case. “Let’s get your trumpet and head for home were it’s cooler.”
They had almost reached the band room when they heard Mr. Tone, their band teacher, shouting at someone. Nina hurried to the band room door, but Max held back.

“Come on in, you two,” Mr. Tone said, calming down. “You’re good at solving mysteries, so see what you think of this one.”

“What happened?” Max asked.

“The folder containing tomorrow’s sight-reading test music has disappeared. It was here on my music rack just ten minutes ago. I stepped into a practice room to help a student and when I returned, the folder was gone. I think someone right in this room knows where that music is.”

Nina and Max looked at the three nervous students who stood before Mr. Tone. Everyone dreaded Mr. Tone’s yearly test, but to go so far as to steal the test music was a serious situation.

“I don’t know anything about the folder,” Larry said. “I just came in the band room to see if my friend Ted was here. Ron was already in the room, and Megan was leaving as I came in.”

“Don’t try to blame me.” Megan stooped to adjust the walking cast on her left foot. “One of your brothers has been the best clarinet player almost every year. Maybe you wanted to keep up the family reputation so you took the music to practice ahead of time.”

“If Mr. Tone wants me to, I’ll open my backpack and show you I didn’t take it,” Larry said. “But maybe you should open your own backback, Megan. What were you doing in the band room?”

“I don’t know anything about the missing music,” Megan said. “I just stopped in to see if Mr. Tone had any extra saxophone reeds. My reed split at today’s band practice. Since I didn’t see him in the room, I was just leaving when you arrived.”

“That may be true,” Max said, “but Megan, you and Tom always compete for first chair in the sax section. If you could practice with the test music, you’d have a better chance, right? Maybe you went down the hall to the media center’s copy machine, copied your part, then put the test back. If you’d been quick enough, nobody would have known.”

“What about Ron?” Megan asked. “He was already in the band room when Larry and I got here.”

“I think Larry or Megan know where the music is,” Ron said. “Sure, I was in the room when they arrived, but I was just coming back because I left my sweater somewhere after band practice. I stopped in to look for it, but I guess it’s not here. I don’t know anything about the missing music.”

Nina looked at Max and they nodded at each other. “Mr. Tone,” Nina said, “I think we know who’s lying.”

Whom do Nina and Max suspect and why?