The Music Man

by Brittany Hall
Kentucky, USA

The Music Man

The jingle of loose change and keys was barely audible from the far end of the hall, but I knew without a doubt who it was. I waited patiently for his smiling face to peek around the corner. As he approached, I sensed the love he had for his job and for all the people involved. Who is this man? This is the teacher I hold closest to my heart, Mr. O.

If you were to see him in a crowd, he wouldn’t catch your eye. You probably wouldn’t give him a second glance. His hair is only a dark ring above his ears, but to his students, looks aren’t important. Standing only inches above me, his height doesn’t hint at how much he’s admired. The thing that makes him so great is his huge heart. It isn’t his outer appearance that I picture in my mind when I think of Mr. O. It’s the love and respect he displays for his students.

Mr. O. can make anyone feel special. He starts sharing his love with first through fifth graders at Caneyville Elementary School in Kentucky. Mr. O. doesn’t stop there; he stays after school and continues to work with middle and high school students. He takes time out of every day to help others. He’s the first to arrive at school and the last to leave, commuting two hours to work.

When I was his student, my favorite part of the day was music class. Mr. O. has the ability to add life to any ordinary piece of music and make it extraordinary. But it isn’t just his love for music that he left with me; it is the will to succeed.

The first time my lips touched a saxophone, it sounded like a big semi truck blowing its horn, loud and harsh. But Mr. O. nodded approvingly. He knew how hard I was trying, which was more important to him than the sound.

He never underestimated any of his students. Whenever I felt like I couldn’t play something, he practiced with me and made suggestions until I could play a difficult piece with ease. Our elementary band played middle school music in the fifth grade!

When I was having a rough day, he put a smile on my face. I can only hope that someday, someone will look up to me as much as I look up to him. If you asked me who I consider to be my hero, you wouldn’t hear me name a celebrity or someone famous. I would say the music teacher at Caneyville Elementary School.

He taught me everything I know about music and so much more. He made me believe that I can accomplish anything if I put my mind to it. He touched my life and I will always carry him in my heart. I am the person I am today because of him.

Originally published as HeroicStories #497 on Mar 18, 2004

6 thoughts on “The Music Man”

  1. Beautiful! Nothing is more inspiring than the teacher that takes the extra step to work with each child to help them acheive their goals, be it band or any other class that is their favorite. There is nothing more special than the teacher that always find the positive things in their students without finding ways to also demean their efforts also. I had a science teacher that felt I was unable to succeed at anything that may have been science related and it so angered me, that I took lots of science courses in high school and in college because my major was Dental assisting and required tons of science classes for graduation. I took everyone and did well in all of them. I want my teachers and all of the teachers today to remember that one negative remark can do untold damage to young children…

    • It appears from your response that the negative attitude put a fire in you. I believe that is a special kind of encouragement because it comes from within. You wanted to succeed despite someone’s view of you. That is beautiful in it’s own right. But I agree, it best that teachers inspire rather than discourage.

    • I’m glad you failed at that ‘anon’ !
      Every life is important, everyone has something to give, something that is unique.
      So I’m very happy and pleased that you are still here to make your comment.

  2. I was for many years, up to retirement, a dance teacher in a performing arts schools in and around Toronto. It really wasn’t that important to me whether my students were good dancers or not, or planned to make it as a professional dancer. What mattered was that I could impart my knowledge of dance to them, but most of all my love for it as an art form in which they could participate. With the attitude that I had, and a memory of the teachers who had brought out the best in me as a would-be professional, I reaped the rewards of watching my students getting huge enjoyment out of dancing. Some of them even went on to make a career for themselves as dancers.


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