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Old 02-07-2008, 01:08 PM
 
Location: San Antonio, TX
39 posts, read 922,863 times
Reputation: 57

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Music To My Ears.......

At the prodding of my friends, I am writing this story. My name is Mildred Hondorf. 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 ability. 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" pupils. One such student was Robby. Robby was 11 years old when his mother (a single mom) dropped him off for his first piano lesson. I prefer that students (especially boys!) begin at an earlier age, which I explained to Robby. But Robby said that it had always been his mother's dream to hear him play the piano. So I took him as a student.
Well, Robby began with his piano lessons and from the beginning I thought it was a hopeless endeavor. As much as Robby tried, he lacked the sense of tone and basic rhythm needed to excel. But he dutifully reviewed his scales and some elementary pieces that I require all my students to learn.
Over the months he tried and tried while I listened and cringed and tried to encourage him. At the end of each weekly lesson he'd always say, "My 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 or waited in her aged car to pick him up. She always waved and smiled but never stopped in. Then one day Robby stopped coming to our lessons.
I thought about calling him but assumed, because of his lack of ability, that he had decided to pursue something else. I also was glad that he stopped coming. He was a bad advertisement for my teaching!
Several weeks later I mailed to the student's homes a flyer on the upcoming recital. To my surprise Robby (who received a flyer) asked me if he could be in the recital. I told him that the recital was for current pupils and because he had dropped out he really did not qualify. He said that his mom 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 insisted. I don't know what led me to allow him to play in the recital. Maybe it was his persistence or maybe it was something inside of me saying that it would be alright.
The night for the recital came. The high school gymnasium was packed with parents, friends and relatives. I put Robby up last in the program before I was to come up and thank all the students and play a finishing piece. I thought that any damage he would do would come at the end of the program and I could always salvage his poor performance through my "curtain closer."
Well the recital went off without a hitch. The students had been practicing and it showed. Then Robby came up on stage. His clothes were wrinkled and his hair looked like he'd run an egg-beater 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 night?"
Robby pulled out the piano bench and he began. I was surprised when he announced that he had chosen Mozart's Concerto #21 in C Major. I was not prepared for what I heard next. His fingers were light on the keys, they 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 had I heard Mozart played so well by people his age. After six and a half minutes he ended in a grand crescendo and everyone was on their feet in wild applause.
Overcome and in tears I ran up on stage and put my arms around Robby in joy. "I've never heard you play like that Robby! How'd you do it?" Through the microphone Robby explained:
"Well, Miss Hondorf . . . remember I told you my mom was sick? Well actually she had cancer and passed away this morning. And well . . . she was born deaf so tonight was the first time she ever heard me play. I wanted to make it special."
There wasn't a dry eye in the house that evening. As the people from Social Services led Robby from the stage to be placed into foster care, I noticed 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.
No, I've never had a protégé but that night I became a protégé . . . of Robby's. He was the teacher and I was the pupil. For it was he that taught me the meaning of perseverance and love and believing in yourself and maybe even taking a chance on someone and you don't know why. This is especially meaningful to me since after serving in Desert Storm Robby was killed in the senseless bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City in April of 1995, where he was reportedly . . . playing the piano.

 
Old 02-07-2008, 01:19 PM
 
4,131 posts, read 13,311,035 times
Reputation: 3773
Oh wow, thank you for posting, what a wonderful inspiring story about that young man. Even though his life was senselessly cut short, how touching he died doing what he loved best, playing the piano and bringing joy to others.
 
Old 02-07-2008, 07:34 PM
 
1,423 posts, read 2,991,354 times
Reputation: 329
Speaking of moving stories... STORY CORPS Dave Isay is in San Antonio to interview local folks who have a moving story they would like to share. Story Corps is a program on TPR that will usually bring tears to your eyes. He wrote a book called "Listening is an Act of Love". Reservations for remaining interview spaces on Friday, Feb 8 at 10am. Booth recording interviews through Mar 15. To reserve space 800-850-4406 or online at Story Corps website or tpr.org.
 
Old 02-07-2008, 07:41 PM
djw
 
951 posts, read 2,575,757 times
Reputation: 450
What a wonderful story. Something right out of "Chicken Soup"!!
Not sure what type of stories they look for, but the NPR Story Corps mobile booth is in San Antonio:
San Antonio, TX | StoryCorps (broken link)


{edited} Guess I had my reply window open too long!
 
Old 02-07-2008, 07:45 PM
 
Location: Diyallusss, TX
1,805 posts, read 4,358,616 times
Reputation: 559
Quote:
Originally Posted by jsantxman View Post
Music To My Ears.......

At the prodding of my friends, I am writing this story. My name is Mildred Hondorf. 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 ability. 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" pupils. One such student was Robby. Robby was 11 years old when his mother (a single mom) dropped him off ...... snipped for space......
Well, according to Snopes, there are several problems with this story, making it very suspect...

Urban Legends Reference Pages: Robby Plays Piano
 
Old 02-07-2008, 08:07 PM
djw
 
951 posts, read 2,575,757 times
Reputation: 450
hmph...maybe it WAS in Chicken Soup?!?!...
oh well

I love Snopes!
 
Old 02-07-2008, 08:10 PM
 
Location: Lexington, South Carolina
732 posts, read 3,367,307 times
Reputation: 312
haha...as soon as I read the story, I thought "I'd better check this on Snopes..." But then I felt guilty for being so suspicious - haha.
 
Old 02-07-2008, 08:37 PM
 
Location: San Antonio, TX
8,400 posts, read 20,165,928 times
Reputation: 4435
OK, maybe I can salvage this thread; and unlike most war stories and urban legends on the Internet, this one is completely true…

A few weeks ago I was contacted by a retired police officer in Tucson. His daughter came across a post I made on the Virtual Vietnam Wall concerning the father of someone I had served with in the Air Force 25 years ago. Unfortunately, the guy’s son and I lost contact about 15-20 years ago, and although I made attempts to find him, I never was successful. Well, it turns out that this retired police officer was with this guy’s father the day he was killed in Vietnam, and he didn’t even know he had a son (my friend was 4 years old at the time) until his daughter found my post. He had been trying for 40 years to contact the family of my friend to share what he knew about his time in Vietnam, but had also been unsuccessful.

Well, through a series of phone calls and emails I shared as much information about my friend as I could remember, and after chasing a few dead ends I found out two days ago he not only found my old buddy, but got in touch with him. Just this evening I got an email from my friend, and we are in the process of catching up on all those missed years. He also has the opportunity to learn about the father he never knew. As a matter of fact, the retired officer in Tucson says another member of the unit who knew my friend’s father even better only lives 200 miles away from my friend, and he hopes they too can meet up to talk about his dad.

So, not only has one man completed his quest of finding the family of the man that was killed right next to him back in 1967; but he has also reunited two old friends who unfortunately lost contact with each other a long time ago. Needless to say I am quite excited and happy about hearing from my old buddy, and I guarantee I won’t let the mistake of losing contact with him happen again.

And that folks is a very true and hopefully somewhat moving story!

Cheers! M2
 
Old 02-08-2008, 07:27 PM
 
Location: San Antonio, TX
413 posts, read 1,273,548 times
Reputation: 148
Wow major. I cried. I know I'm such a sap, but stories like that make me so teary eyed. I remember reading "The Things They Carried," and I got so mad when I found it wasn't true, because so much emotion was put into it, but then I hear stories like this and it at least satisfies me that it was with truthful intentions.
 
Old 02-08-2008, 09:10 PM
 
1,276 posts, read 3,440,931 times
Reputation: 700
M2...wow. I don't know what else to say. Wow...
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