Teaching in Poetry: A Poem for my Music Teacher

Updated on July 5, 2018
Tim Truzy info4u profile image

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. | Source

I'd Like to Reach the World with a Song

Ms. Susie was a small talented musician who felt nothing but joy as she would guide and encourage her students on the piano. She had intense brown eyes which communicated authority and kindness simultaneously. A compassionate person of years of training as a teacher and musician, she taught her students about the basics – chords, notes, timing – and never missed a beat about life. Ms. Susie seemed to know the status of all of her students, even when we didn’t tell her. How we were performing in class, on sports teams, and our young social lives didn’t escape the knowledge of Ms. Susie. 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 black and white keys create meaningful sound. The only reason I sat down at a piano was to learn to make the resonating pulsing sounds I heard from traditional 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.

But Ms. Susie tuned me, like a good instrument, aiding me on that journey. With her leaving this world a few months ago, 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

What is your favorite musical instrument?

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

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 | Source

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 | Source

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 | Source

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

Have you had a teacher who left you with a gift you joyously share with others?

See results

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.

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    • Tim Truzy info4u profile imageAUTHOR

      Tim Truzy 

      11 days ago from U.S.A.

      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

    • Tim Truzy info4u profile imageAUTHOR

      Tim Truzy 

      13 days ago from U.S.A.

      I started out hating to practice too, Diane, then Count Bassy, Duke Elington, and Bruce Hornsby changed my mind. I wanted to play like those guys. I would put on Elton John's music sometimes, and knew that man spent some time playing gospel. Perhaps, the real changer was reading a story about Billy Joel. He felt piano was a waste of time, then he realized something- big time piano players made many friends, to paraphrase the "genius," including beautiful women. We know how that worked out for Billy, but his point was well taken.

      I did make incredible insightful friends along the way, including those who know quite a bit about gospel.

      From what I've learned from older musicians, the acoustic piano will probably never go away. There is something unique about the "church" piano sound, for example, which can't be found from other instruments. It's that special cross between the honky-tonk sound and the deep southern bluesy slightly out-of-tune sound which can't be replicated electronically. I personally love my electronic Yamaha, but at church, when the choir wants to practice a piece, I play an old "upright" which I cherish.

      Thank you for your warm and cheerful comments. May your day be peaceful and rewarding.

      Much respect for the first Hubber to give me a follow.

      Sincerely,

      Tim

    • dianetrotter profile image

      G. Diane Nelson Trotter 

      13 days ago from Fontana

      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 info4u profile imageAUTHOR

      Tim Truzy 

      2 weeks ago from U.S.A.

      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 info4u profile imageAUTHOR

      Tim Truzy 

      2 weeks ago from U.S.A.

      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

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      2 weeks ago

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

    • manatita44 profile image

      manatita44 

      2 weeks ago from london

      I love the prose. It is extremely beautiful, touching, sweet, charming …. sp good of your to highlight the talent and sacrifice of another!

      In the poem you touched on music and some great musicians well. Yes, music heals. It is the language of the soul. My friend loved jazz and rhythm and blues so much, that they played them at his funeral. Mahalia was a very special soul. Looks like Ms Susie was too. Like Sean, perhaps, in terms of service to others. Have a great weekend!

    • Tim Truzy info4u profile imageAUTHOR

      Tim Truzy 

      2 weeks ago from U.S.A.

      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

    • Sean Dragon profile image

      Ioannis Arvanitis 

      2 weeks ago from Greece, Almyros

      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 info4u profile imageAUTHOR

      Tim Truzy 

      2 weeks ago from U.S.A.

      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

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