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School in Poetry: A Poem for My Music Teacher

Author:

Tim Truzy is a poet, short-story author, and he is currently working on several novels.

The author has fond memories of his childhood music teacher.

The author has fond memories of his childhood music teacher.

I'd Like to Reach the World with a Song

Ms. Susie was a small talented musician who shared the joy of playing the piano. She had intense brown eyes, communicating authority and kindness simultaneously. A compassionate person, she taught her students about the basics – chords, notes, timing – and never missed a beat about life. Ms. Susie knew the status of all of her students - how we were performing in class, on sports teams, and our young social lives. She knew our songs and helped us write verses for our lives.

Truthfully, I never wanted to touch a piano. I thought only nerdy kids sat for hours trying to make those little keys create meaningful sound. The only reason I sat down at a piano was to learn to make the pulsing sounds I heard from gospel music. I’m glad I did. My knowledge with the piano, organ, and keyboard helped me pay for college by working with bands. Eventually, I led church choirs and fulfilled my promise to understand those feelings I experienced so long ago as a child with Ms. Susie's help.

When she died recently, I know a beautiful rendition of life had been completed. She left to be with the Original Composer, leaving me with melodies and memories written like sheet music in my heart. This poem is a thank you to teachers like Ms. Susie who showed their students the score of life. It is a free verse, free form, and varying metered composition because music takes so many forms, and so does my love for my precious instructors. I also honor two important women in the development of gospel music, Shirley Caesar and Mahalia Jackson, who Ms. Susie considered some of the most creative women of all time.

Poll

Cherished tunes, like gospel music, may be first heard on recorded technologies.

Cherished tunes, like gospel music, may be first heard on recorded technologies.

Dedication to Ms. Susie: Music is a Cure

Sherley and Mahalia,

Precise surgeons Cutting deep

Organs’ retelling melodies-

Scalpels dicing Lumbi lands

All the way through Georgia-Right over here.

Stitched together from wounds in my parents’ hands.

My dad robust baritone,

Took my hand when scraped,

Rubbing alcohol into the blood,

“It has to hurt, burn, and then heal; there’s no mistake.”

Music can be like a surgical knife

Music can be like a surgical knife

Then, I saw the Ray once,

Beyond average keys bouncing,

And Billy swung open the door,

E.J. sat at rounded table knighted,

All asking me to offer more.

And Mom soothing soprano,

Took my injured fingers,

“It has to flirt, turn, and obey His Will. That’s your piano.”

Music can be the keys to more in life

Music can be the keys to more in life

Ms. Susie offered a free exam,

Scanning X-rays identifying the source,

“You need treatment, son.” She said,

“Recitals, practice, and musical course.”

“Mozart is art!” Ms. Susie said,

Brown skin beaming in relief,

“Teacher, his music makes my ears dead,”

I replied and cried disbelief.

Then, twinkle in her eyes so brilliant,

“You don’t know a star.” She laughed, patting my scar.

And she gave me a medicine from royalty,

The Count, the duke, Queen of Soul,

And I drank thirsty,

Deeply,

Slowly—

Filling the cuts with lubricating lyric and meter.

And music was the bandage,

After surgeons, hymns had done their work,

Removing bitter sores,

Repairing dreams separated from flesh.

Ms. Susie, I remember the first time you took your nap,

Sounds running a lap from my piano,

You woke up, “See, son. You are good enough to let a tired soul rest,

To the gentle rolling playing of your show.”

“But I’m not anesthesia! People shouldn’t sleep!” I responded.

“Some playing can achieve a long peace.” She replied,

“Dreams can be healed from the outside.”

My residency the road,

Performing gospel, country, jazz and solo promos.

Pouring deeply, softly, richly,

Into those from here but far away—

Swaziland to Georgia-right Over there.

Sewing together wounds with my well trained hands.

Music can give new life

Music can give new life

I still behold rays,

They cross the darkened threshold,

I scatter the night,

With ivory keys I hold.

And Ms. Susie--

Hum the melody from beyond,

Sing the song with the words I know

And the tune I follow with skills below.

Shirley and Mahalia,

I didn’t understand so young,

I missed the healing through the music,

Now, I’m like you-healing ancient blues,

Piano MRI staccato duties,

I am a grateful medic of love and Ms. Susie.

May the songs of loving fire gush through me.

Poll

Fun Facts about Pianos

  • The first piano was produced in Italy in the early 1700s. By the 19th-century, prices had fallen to the point and the design became common to what we see today. The first digital piano appeared around 1980.
  • The piano is considered a string or percussion instrument. Most musicians consider the instrument to belong to the percussion class because the “hammers” strike the strings when the instrument is played. The total tension of a standard grand piano’s strings can be around 30 tons with the instrument having the ability to play notes softly or very loud.
  • Pianos may have as many as twelve thousand parts, needing approximately 230 strings of steel for the keys. According to some estimates, there are almost 20 million piano playing individuals in the U.S., but professional piano tuners should tune the instrument. The piano is unique because it has the ability to play some of the highest and lowest notes of all musical instruments.
We find inspirational teachers in real life and in popular culture.

We find inspirational teachers in real life and in popular culture.

Teachers in Literature, Films, and Television

Teachers are crucial in life and often play major roles in stories in books, theatrical productions, and television shows. For example, teachers are essential in the plots of all of the Harry Potter novels by J. K. Rowland. This is because lessons can be magical in their transformation of a young mind whether they appear in movies, on pages, or in television productions. As a young person, my favorite sitcom was Welcome Back, Kotter, which first aired on American television in 1975. Because of this hilarious show, I wanted to eventually work in a classroom setting and help individuals with disabilities as a counselor. However, there are many shows, plays, and books about teachers which can inspire us. Below are some books for you to explore on this topic, but find ones that interest you. Indeed, most of us encounter a special teacher, like Ms. Susie, and such instructors and their techniques are worth becoming familiar with for inspiration.


Four Books about Inspiring Teachers and their Techniques

  1. Dintersmith, T. (2018). What school could be insights and inspiration from teachers across America. Princeton; Oxford: Princeton University Press.
  2. Hanh, T. N., & Weare, K. (1917). Happy teachers change the world: A guide for cultivating mindfulness in education. Berkeley, CA: Parallax Press.
  3. MacCracken, M. (2014). The lost children. London: Harper Element.
  4. Nielsen, K. E. (2010). Beyond the miracle worker: The remarkable life of Anne Sullivan Macy and her extraordinary friendship with Helen Keller. Boston, MA: Beacon.

Comments

Tim Truzy (author) from U.S.A. on December 17, 2019:

I was pleasantly surprised to wind up at the St. Augustine School for the Blind over Thanksgiving week. Imagine walking the grounds where Ray Charles, the legendary musician, learned to play the piano. Ray Charles inspired many artists, eventually having a song he recorded, “Georgia on My Mind,” becoming the state song of Georgia. He taught us a lot about experiencing life and dealing with human challenges. Teachers can be found in many forms. I appreciate your visit.

Tim Truzy (author) from U.S.A. on February 27, 2019:

I started out hating to practice too, Diane, then I wanted to master the instrument. But Billy Joel and Elton John really showed me playing the piano can help you form life long friendships. I did. I love the piano today. Other musicians have told me the acoustic piano will always be around because of its sound. Thanks for the visit.

Much respect,

Tim

Tim Truzy (author) from U.S.A. on January 29, 2019:

Thanks, Lpretta for visiting my article and making such a thoughtful comment.

I always wondered why Ms. Susie would laugh when she said the piano is a life-time friend. I found out when I ran into her years later. She explained: "A friend is going to help you make money. A friend will not constantly borrow money from you either. A friend respects your gifts, your tender touch, your need to be tough, and your need to be something in between. Nothing can do that like a piano." We both laughed that time. That's when I realized Ms. Susie wasn't just a fabulous teacher, she was a philosopher as well.

I suspect you would agree would most of those statements given your love of the piano.

again, thanks, Loretta.

To a talented, kind, and thoughtful writer,

May your evening be rewarding and your tomorrow blessed.

Sincerely,

Tim

The Sampsons from The Ozarks, Missouri on January 29, 2019:

Very clever analogies - the medicine and the keys. Those never occurred to me, but it's true.

I especially like what Ms. Susie said here :

...as Ms. Susie would say: “You have a friend for life".

Thanks for sharing - Loretta

Tim Truzy (author) from U.S.A. on July 24, 2018:

Thanks, Ms. Dora,

It's always an honor to hear your thoughts on my work. It keeps me motivated to read comments from such informative, creative, and passionate writers as yourself.

The gift Ms. Susie gave me over time allowed me to pay her back. I try to visit retirement homes at least monthly to play any of the old hymns, jazz, or music that puts a smile on the retired people's faces. That's kind of what Ms. Susie did. She made sure I developed a love for something which allows me to spread more love.

Ms. Susie would probably have loved to meet you, too.

God bless your caring heart.

Much respect,

Sincerely,

Tim,

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on July 23, 2018:

Beautiful tribute to Ms. Susie. You make me like her too. And I love your last line. Of course, the entire poem is excellent.

Tim Truzy (author) from U.S.A. on July 10, 2018:

One of the things I remember from my piano class is that over all, the grand piano plays faster than the trusted upright. This is because the design of the grand piano allows the player to strike the same key more than twice rapidly. The upright does not have the mechanical parts to accomplish this. Although debatable by many, I learned Steinway makes the best pianos, but I'll stick to my Yamaha.

Sincerely,

Tim

G. Diane Nelson Trotter from Fontana on July 08, 2018:

I'm wondering if acoustic pianos will become obsolete. I have an upright but love to pick up my keyboard and move it to convenient locations. I take it to church for my group rehearsals. I hated piano growing up because I hated to practice. Thank you for sharing!

Tim Truzy (author) from U.S.A. on July 06, 2018:

Thank you, Pam. I'll never forget walking into class, and there was Ms. Susie playing a Cool and the Gang song on the piano. She looked at me and said: "What did you think I only played Bethoven? "Cherish the Love" is an amazing piece. I heard the kids singing it, and I thought it might be fun to work with today. Now, let's sit down and talk about the progressions for that song, and how it relates to something classical were going to look at shortly." We did, and I discovered how clever my teacher really was. She really taught me to tune into where my students are to get them to where I need them to go.

Thank you for your kind and thoughtful comment.

Much respect,

Sincerely,

Tim

Tim Truzy (author) from U.S.A. on July 06, 2018:

Thank you, Manatita. I was fortunate to have her as a teacher. I learned later she turned down positions with many big jazz bands at the time, including working with Hancock. She was brilliant and thank you for visiting and providing such a kind comment on my work.

Sincerely,

Much respect,

Tim

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on July 06, 2018:

Ms Susie was obviously a very special teacher and person. I found your prose to be very inspired, and I truly enjoyed this article.

Tim Truzy (author) from U.S.A. on July 05, 2018:

Ms. Susie was certainly a special teacher, Sean. I loved her laugh and her devotion to all of us. Perhaps, the greatest gift she gave me was learning about so many different types of music. For example, I didn't like Mozart, but she explained to me Mozart had composed music to one great tune we all know: Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star. She allowed me to bring in my favorite rock 'n roll songs, country, and rap and used these songs to teach me about how music "moves" with arrangements and chord progressions and rhythm.

By the time I attended college, I was thinking about the mathematical relationships of sound and how brilliant people like Mozart were.

Then, I had an opportunity to visit the observatory, and listen to sounds decoded and re-interpreted from radio telescopes - I realized the whole universe is singing - That's what Ms. Susie was trying to get me to understand. We are all part of an infinite musical score, Composed and directed by the Greatest Maestro of them All.

Much respect and cherished brotherly love,

From one teacher to another fine teacher,

May your day be especially blessed for yourself, your wonderful family, and of course, your students,

PS. Lori, another teacher, sends her love, too,

Sincerely,

Tim

Ioannis Arvanitis from Greece, Almyros on July 05, 2018:

Dear Brother, thank you for giving me the opportunity to know a beautiful soul like Ms Susie. I am sure that now she is with the Original Composer, in an orchestra of Angels and happy with your tribute.

I admire your Golden Heart!

Sean

Tim Truzy (author) from U.S.A. on July 05, 2018:

The piano should be tuned at least twice a year if it is an older instrument, and I had the pleasure of taking a few courses on the topic. But another reason I learned the piano was because of the ability to play both melody and accompaniment. This is another important fact in playing the piano: I could be lead or rhythm in a group or both. If you choose to learn the piano, as Ms. Susie would say: “You have a friend for life. It can bring you happiness, chasing away the blues. Or it could take you to a bluesy space where only you could go. But more to the point: You can be creative and find who you are.”

Thanks for reading and commenting.

Sincerely,

Tim