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A home sweet home for music education, piano and music to inspire my students, music lovers, performers, educators and parents. Where learning music should be fun and play important role in our life... Where music, art and passion meet and enjoy themselves...
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
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 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 someone 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 is he that taught me
the meaning of perseverance and love and believing in yourself and maybe even
taking a chance in someone and you don't know why.
a perfume you cannot pour on others
without getting a few drops on yourself" - Ralph Waldo Emerson -