At the prodding of my friends,
I am writing this story. My name is
I am a former elementary school music teacher from DeMoines, Iowa.
I've always supplemented my income by teaching piano lessons-something
I've done for over 30 years.
Over the years I found that children have many levels of musical
I've never had the pleasure of having a protégé though
I have taught some talented students.
However I've also had my share of what I call "musically challenged"
One such student was Robby.
Robby was 11 years old when his mother (a single mom) dropped him
his first piano lesson. I prefer that students (especially boys!)
an earlier age, which I explained to Robby. But Robby said that
always been his mother's dream to hear him play the piano. So I
took him as
Well, Robby began with his piano lessons and from the beginning
it was a hopeless endeavor. As much as Robby tried, he lacked the
tone and basic rhythm needed to excel. But he dutifully reviewed
scales and some elementary pieces that I require all my students
Over the months he tried and tried while I listened and cringed
to encourage him. At the end of each weekly lesson he'd always say,
mom's going to hear me play some day." But it seemed hopeless.
He just did
not have any inborn ability.
I only knew his mother from a distance as she dropped Robby off
in her aged car to pick him up. She always waved and smiled but
stopped in. Then one day Robby stopped coming to our lessons.
I thought about calling him but assume because of his lack of ability,
he had decided to pursue something else. I also was glad that he
coming. He was a bad advertisement for my teaching!
Several weeks later I mailed to the student's homes a flyer on the
recital. To my surprise Robby (who received a flyer) asked me if
be in the recital. I told him that the recital was for current pupils
because he had dropped out he really did not qualify. He said that
his mother had been
sick and unable to take him to piano lessons but he was still
practicing." Miss Hondorf...I've just got to play!" he
I don't know what led me to allow him to play in the recital. Maybe
his persistence or maybe it was something inside of me saying that
be all right. The night for the recital came. The high school gymnasium
packed with parents, friends and relatives.
I put Robby up last in the program before I was to come up and thank
the students and play a finishing piece. I thought that any damage
do would come at the end of the program and I could always salvage
performance through my "curtain closer."
Well the recital went off without a hitch. The students had been
and it showed. Then Robby came up on stage. His clothes were wrinkled
his hair looked like he'd run an eggbeater through
it. "Why didn't he dress up like the other students?"
I thought. "Why
didn't his mother at least make him comb his hair for this special
Robby pulled out the piano bench and he began. I was surprised when
announced that he had chosen Mozart's Concerto #21 in C Major. I
prepared for what I heard next. His fingers were light on the keys,
even danced nimbly on the ivories. He went from pianissimo to
fortissimo...from allegro to virtuoso.
His suspended chords that Mozart demands were magnificent! Never
heard Mozart played so well by people his age. After six and a half
he ended in a grand crescendo and everyone was on their feet in
Overcome and in tears I ran up on stage and put my arms around Robby
"I've never heard you play like that Robby! How'd you do it?"
microphone Robby explained: "Well Miss Hondorf...remember I
told you my mom
was sick? Well actually she had cancer and passed away this morning.
she was born deaf so tonight was the first time she ever heard me
wanted to make it special."
There wasn't a dry eye in the house that evening. As the people
Services led Robby from the stage to be placed into foster care,
that even their eyes were red and puffy and I thought to
myself how much richer my life had been for taking Robby as my pupil.
I've never had a protégé but that night I became a
He was the teacher and I was the pupil. For it is he that taught
meaning of perseverance and love and believing in yourself and maybe
taking a chance in someone and you don't know why.
This is especially meaningful to me since after serving in Desert
Robby was killed in the senseless bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah
Building in Oklahoma City in April of 1995, where he was
reportedly....playing the piano.
And now, a footnote to the story. If you are thinking about forwarding
message, you are probably thinking about which people on your address
aren't the "appropriate" ones to receive this type of
message. The person
who sent this to you believes that we can all make a difference.
have thousands of opportunities a day to help realize God's plan.
seemingly trivial interactions between two people present us with
Do we pass along a spark of the Divine? Or do we pass up that opportunity
and leave the world a bit colder in the process?