Red Rose on PianoMy dad told this story in a sermon a long time ago. It’s a heartwarming urban legend, so I’m passing it along in a way similar to how Christ taught using stories, or parables, in Scripture. Parables are story-like word pictures that contain powerful life lessons many of us can remember with ease. May the lessons of this story of a young boy and his piano teacher remain fixed in our minds for the rest of our lives.

A certain piano teacher had never thought of turning away a student until she met Robby. Robby was the only child of a single mom, and at age 11 seemed “musically challenged,” to put it lightly. He worked harder than any of her other students but appeared to make little musical progress. However, he had an incredible attitude and would say after each session, “My mom’s gonna hear me play someday.”

Then suddenly, Robby stopped showing up for his lessons; his teacher was relieved and chose not to call when the piano recital they had been working toward was a week away. Before each recital, she mailed the flyers to the families of her students, forgetting Robby was still on the list. He called immediately and pleaded with her, insistent that he play. He had missed the lessons because his mother had become so sick, but he told her that he had still been practicing every day. Because Robby wouldn’t take no for an answer, the teacher listed him last on the recital program. Believing his performance would be poor, she hoped to cover it with some good closing remarks.

Robby showed up on time that night, but his clothes were wrinkled and his hair was a mess. Additionally, he had chosen a difficult piece to play—Mozart’s Concerto #21 in C major; his teacher knew it would be a disaster. Robby approached the bench calm and composed. He began to play, and the audience was silent as his fingers danced over each key. No one seemed to notice his hair or clothing; the music filled the gymnasium with wordless wonder. Upon hearing the crescendo, the audience jumped to its feet bursting in applause.

Wiping her tears, Robby’s teacher ran to the piano and praised Robby for his performance. Kindly, Robby took the microphone and reminded his teacher what he said after each practice: “Someday, my mom’s gonna hear me play.” Then he continued, “Remember how I told you my mother was very sick . . . well, she had cancer and died this morning; she was born deaf, so today she heard me play for the very first time and I wanted to make it special.”

As with the piano teacher, we all are given opportunities to learn from people like Robby. For whatever reason, something tragic happens when we overlook others because of their wrinkled clothes, messy hair, or lack of measurable or impressive work; we miss some of life’s greatest lessons taught by some of life’s wisest people.

I can assure you that most of what I write is connected in some way to great lessons I’ve learned from my disabled son, Jon. He is a gift to this world, and there are “Jons” everywhere.

Let Me Hear from You

If you have ever had a Robby experience, will you please share it with me?