True Story -- Worth
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 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 musical ability. 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 Michael.
Michael 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 Michael.
But Michael said that it had always been his mother's dream to h
ear him play the piano. So I took him as a student.
Well, Michael began with his piano lessons and from the beginning
I thought it was a hopeless endeavor. As much as Michael tried,
he lacked the sense of tone and basic rhythm needed to excel
But he dutifully reviewed his scales and some elementary pieces t
hat 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
'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 Michael off or waited in her aged car to pick him
She always waved and smiled but never stopped in.
Then one day Michael 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 Michael (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 t
o 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 all right.
The night for the recital came.
The high school gymnasium was packed with parents,
friends and relatives. I put Michael 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 Michael 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?' I thought. '
Why didn't his mother at least make him comb his hair for this special
Michael 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
Michael in joy. 'I've never heard you play like that Michael! How'd you do
Through the microphone Michael 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 Michael from the
stage to be placed into foster care, noticed that even their eyes
were red and puffy and I thought to myself how much richer my l
ife had been for taking Michael as my pupil.
No, I've never had a prodigy but that night I became a prodigy. . .
Of Michael'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
Michael was killed in the senseless bombing of the
Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City in April of 1995.
And now, a footnote to the story.
If you are thinking about forwarding this message,
you are probably thinking about which people on your
address list 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.
So many seemingly trivial interactions between two people present us with a
Do we act with compassion or do we pass up that opportunity and leave the
world a bit colder in the process?
You have two choices now:
1. Delete this.
2. Forward it to the people you care about.
You know the choice I made.
Thank you for reading this
May God bless you all today,tomorrow and forever *********