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Boy Who Mastered Piano So His Mother Could Hear Him Play, And Who Died in
the Oklahoma City Bombing-Fiction!
Summary of the eRumor:
piano teacher said to be named Mildred Hondorf writes a touching
story about a boy named Robby who came for lessons because he wanted
his mother to hear him play, but, according to the teacher, he was
never very good..
Ultimately, he stopped coming, which was fine for the teacher
because she didn't see him progressing. As the first recital
came up, however, she sent a notice to him about it and got a call from him saying he wanted to play
and that he had been practicing, even though he had not been able to
come to lessons because of his mother being sick. On the day
of the recital, how showed up looking unkempt, but played a
difficult Mozart piece masterfully. He told the teacher that
his mother, who had been born deaf, had died that very morning and
that he was sure she had heard him play for the first time.
Then the story closes by the teacher saying that Robby grew into a
man, served in the military, and was among those killed in the
bombing of the Federal Building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma in 1995
because he played the piano there.
We've found nothing to
substantiate this story. There was no "Robby" who
died in the Oklahoma City bombing, although there were several
"Roberts." No one associated with the Oklahoma City
victims knows of this story. A representative of the Oklahoma
City National Memorial says she has no idea who Robby may have been
and is not aware that there was a piano in the Murrah Building that
This story is very similar
to "Eyes that See," a commonly-told urban legend about a young
who was not very good at it. He suddenly improved for a game
that happened after his blind father died because, he said, it
was the first time his father could see him play.
A real example of the eRumor as it has
appeared on the Internet:
Please take the time to read this.......... if ever there was a touching
story, this is it.
At the prodding of my friends, I am writing this story. My
Mildred Hondorf. I am a former elementary school music teacher
I've always supplemented my income by teaching piano
I've done for over 30 years. Over the years I found that children
many levels of musical ability. I've never had the pleasure of
protege though I have taught some talented students.
However, I've also had my share of what I call musically
One such student was Robby. Robby was 11 years old when his
single Mom) dropped him off for his first piano lesson. I prefer
students (especially boys!) begin at an earlier age, which I explained
Robby. But Robby said that it had always been his mother's dream
him play the piano. So I took him as a student.
Well, Robby began with his piano lessons and from the
thought it was a hopeless endeavor. As much as Robby tried, he
sense of tone and basic rhythm needed to excel. But he dutifully
his scales and some elementary pieces that I require all my students to
Over the months he tried and tried while I listened and
tried to encourage him. At the end of each weekly lesson he'd
"My mom's going to hear me play someday." But it seemed
just did not have any inborn ability.
I only knew his mother from a distance as she dropped
Robby off or
waited in her aged car to pick him up. She always waved and smiled
never stopped in. Then one day Robby stopped coming to our
thought about calling him but assumed, because of his lack of
that he had decided to pursue something else. I also was glad that
stopped coming. He was a bad advertisement for my teaching!
Several weeks later, I mailed to the student's homes a flyer on
upcoming recital. To my surprise Robby (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.
his Mom had been sick and unable to take him to 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.
was his persistence or maybe it was something inside of me saying that
would be all right.
The night for the recital came. The high school
gymnasium was packed
with parents, friends and relatives. I put Robby up last in the
before I was to come up and thank all the students and play a finishing
I thought that any damage he would do would come at the end
program and I could always salvage his poor performance through my
Well, the recital went off without a hitch. The
students had been
practicing and it showed. Then Robby came up on stage. His
wrinkled and his hair looked like he'd run an eggbeater through it.
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 night?"
pulled out the piano bench and he began. I was surprised when he
that he had chosen Mozart's Concerto #21 in C Major. I was not
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
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
Overcome and in tears I ran up on stage and put my arms
around Robby in
"I've never heard you play like that Robby!
How'd you do it?"
Through the microphone Robby explained: "Well Miss Hondorf...remember
told you my Mom was sick? Well, actually she had cancer and passed
And well....she was born deaf so tonight was the first time she
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 Robby from the stage
to be placed
into foster care, I noticed that even their eyes were red and puffy and
thought to myself how much richer my life had been for taking Robby as
pupil. No, I've never had a portage but that night I became a
protege...of Robby'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
This is especially meaningful to me since after serving in Desert
Storm, Robby was killed in the senseless bombing of the Alfred P. Murray
Federal Building in Oklahoma City in April of 1995, where he was
reportedly....playing the piano.
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