At the prodding of my friends,
I am writing this story.
I am a former elementary school music teacher
from Des Moines, 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
I've never had the pleasure of having a prodigy,
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 tried to encourage him.
At the end of each weekly lesson he'd always say,
'My mom's going to hear me play someday.'
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 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!'
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 all right.
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
just 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 eggbeater through it.
'Why didn't he dress up like the other students?'
'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
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 prodigy
but that night I became a
prodigy . . . 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.
Robby was killed in the senseless bombing
of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building
in Oklahoma City in April of 1995. 1
We are the music makers
and we are the dreamers of dreams . . . 2
Love Transcends Space and Time:
this day is merely a part of a continuum;
just as love has no concept of time nor space,
it has no beginning or end - and
I’ll be loving you . . . always;
forever . . .
 -Robby – The Recital ~Mildred Hondorf
 ~Arthur O'Shaughnessy
from Dawn Cove Abbey
"Roadside Assistance" For Your Journey Through Life
From the eBook: "One! The Journey hOMe", by Klaas Tuinman MA, © 2007-2019