The Last Lesson — lingering notes
Long, slender fingers gracefully tickling the ivories — tiny hands that at first could only plunk out simple tunes and could not span an octave — now playing Les Miserables, “I Dreamed a Dream.”
The last notes fade.


This week I’ve given two last lessons.

Two bright, beautiful young ladies played my piano for the last time. Eight years of lessons for each of them — persisting through the crazy busy high school years. The call of music found them.


Long after the last note dies away, a legacy continues.
One shared legacy is our family connections to piano.
When you take the time to listen, the stories you uncover are truly breathtaking. Sometimes heart-rending, too.


My student’s great-grandmother plotted a successful escape from Nazi prison camp. Eventually, if I’m keeping the grandmothers straight) she become a piano teacher in the US. This I know, my student had amazing grandmas.
My great-grandmother from the same era toted her piano from farm to farm on the back of a flatbed truck as a migrant farm worker’s wife. She’d sing and play for the Sunday Schools she started wherever she went.


I never intended to be a piano teacher, but my legacy found me. I’ve enjoyed plunking out tunes since I was six.


One of my earliest memories is musical, embracing a summer morning on a ranch in Texas, my arms spread wide while I sung my heart out on the back porch steps with only the cows for an audience. I’m sure the cows laughed. I remember feeling gloriously alive!


Back to the one student with a piano-teaching great grandma? She’s adopted. The family heritage found her, too.


My other graduate? Her music is full of glorious soul and expression. When I mentioned she could probably use a practice room at college, she told me she intended to bring her old keyboard with her.


Keyboard with weighted keys, at least, I asked? No weighted keys.
This is what you’ve been practicing on all along? I bit my lip to hold back tears.


Girl, you have NO idea how amazing you are! How do you pull such fire and feeling out of your music on a keyboard?


The only decent piano she’s practiced on in eight years is mine and the one in her school’s music room.


She’s planning to become a doctor. She has the grit.


Through piano our stories have intertwined. The gratitude I feel to have been part of this is profound. I always said I wouldn’t write until I had something worth saying. Now I know.

Look around. Listen. The great stories are hidden everywhere.