A Story of Bravery – The Piano, and the Pianist, and Me

The scene:
It’s the holiday party for teachers and staff.  We’re at the lovely home of a fellow teacher, who is an accomplished pianist.  Actually, that’s an understatement.

Everyone is in the kitchen, eating and laughing.  The big family room is right off of the kitchen, up three stairs.  Huge decorated Christmas tree, fireplace, and… a 6 foot, 1 inch Yamaha grand piano.  Yes, grand.



The do-not-touch kind of piano.

What I did:
I kept staring.  I whispered to a few fellow teachers about going up the stairs and maybe playing a few notes on the piano.

If looks could kill.  They were shocked.

I had to be brave.  Alone brave.  I went to the piano and played the one and only song I could do- Heart and Soul.  I played the bottom half of the song, with all the chords.  Everyone was staring at me, like I have ripped the real Starry Night off the wall and was dancing around.

I kept playing and yelled, “Hey everyone!  Who can play the top part?  I need someone to come up and play the top part!”

Guess who came up… the pianist.

We had so much fun!  Everyone cheered.  I felt brave.

Then I asked the pianist if she would like to play ‘a little something’.  Oh, my!

It was ‘a little bit’ of Chopin’s “Minute” waltz in D flat.


At the end, we smiled, laughed, hugged, and somehow understood.

Bravery often triggers kindness.  When a person is brave, others jump in to help, to be a part of the scene.  That certainly happened with me.  I’m usually the one to jump in and help.  This time I was the brave one.

It’s what I teach children.  Be brave and help out.


About Jennie

I have been teaching preschool for over thirty-five years. This is my passion. I believe that children have a voice, and that is the catalyst to enhance or even change the learning experience. Emergent curriculum opens young minds. It's the little things that happen in the classroom that are most important and exciting. That's what I write about. I was a live guest on the Kelly Clarkson Show. I am highlighted in the seventh edition of Jim Trelease's million-copy bestselling book, "The Read-Aloud Handbook" because of my reading to children. My class has designed quilts that hang as permanent displays at the National Liberty Museum in Philadelphia, the Fisher House at the Boston VA Hospital, and the Massachusetts State House in Boston.
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69 Responses to A Story of Bravery – The Piano, and the Pianist, and Me

  1. Be brave and help out! My take away for today. Bless you Jennie!!! I hope 2023 is lovely for you and the children.

  2. beetleypete says:

    You are always brave, Jennie! That lady is truly a gifted pianist.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    • Jennie says:

      Well…I have become braver with age. Thank you. She is incredible, I never expected this when I asked her to play a little something. She is as kind as the day is long. Best to you, Pete.

  3. Brenda says:

    Never know what might happen if we’re just brave enough to act. And thanks for sharing the pianist, it was lively to hear

  4. willedare says:

    Love this story, Jennie! I talk about playing “Heart and Soul” as a child when I perform an hour-long program of songs co-written by Hoagy Carmichael. Way to go!!!

    • Jennie says:

      Yes! Isn’t “Heart and Soul” the core of everyone who has played a piano? I find it interesting that’s the one song everyone can still play. How wonderful that you talk about playing this as a child on your program! I still can’t believe I walked up to that grand piano and played “Heart and Soul”, with everyone saying “Noooo!” I wish you had been there. 😀

  5. Don Ostertag says:

    I remember the problems they caused when one of our boys decided to be brave and another would jump in and add to the bravery.

  6. Fun post, Jenne. Loved the fact that someone who could play Chopin jumped in to help you as well.

  7. How fun and beautiful your songs were!! Thank you for being brave, Jennie. You put a smile on my face this morning. 😍

  8. petespringerauthor says:

    Another great lesson for young and old. The best way to lead is by demonstrating what it means to be brave. We can’t ask our students to be brave if were unwilling to do the same. I remind myself of that belief all the time. Thanks for reinforcing it, Jennie.

    • Jennie says:

      You are so right, Pete, and thank you. We have to be role models for children. So…I think I will tell the children this story tomorrow, a Jennie Story, when their teacher was brave.

  9. quiall says:

    It is fear that hold us back from testing the waters and sometimes one needs to just swim.

  10. Darlene says:

    Well done you! Sometimes we just have to do it.

  11. We have had a couple of old second hand pianos, none of us got far. We did have one friend who played properly and if you were round their house he would just pop into the dining room and play, not to perform just to play for the enjoyment.

    • Jennie says:

      I bet that was a pleasure when he played the piano. I grew up with an old piano that no one played. My parents sent us to piano lessons with a woman who must have been at least 80 years old. Her house was old and dark, and she was mean. No wonder I didn’t stick with the piano! If the only thing I can now play is “Heart and Soul”, the piano has spread joy.

  12. beth says:

    what a wonderful lesson for all ages, and you lived to tell! fantastic! live what you teach.

  13. K.L. Hale says:

    Oh, Jennie! This made my 2023 suddenly pop! I would’ve joined you on the top part. It’s a beautiful act of bravery and amazing harmony ~music and friendship! What a gift! 💕🥰🎶🎶🎶

  14. CarolCooks2 says:

    How lovely Jennie and it’s no surprise to me that you were brave… my deepest regret is that I didn’t continue playing the piano… I played as a child and practised on my nana’s piano then when she passed my parents gifted it to the nurse who looked after my nana..I never quite forgave them my mother didn’t want it in her house…Happy New Year, Jennie 🙂 x

    • Jennie says:

      Thank you, Carol! My piano lessons were with a rather mean old lady who had a very dark house with a big grandfather’s clock. I only lasted 2 years.

  15. The Hook says:

    Teaching – both in and out of the classroom – is your destiny, Jennie.

  16. Kara Aharon says:

    I am a pianist and have a baby grand in my living room. I’ve never said no to anyone, any age, who asked to play as long as their hands were clean.
    Never miss a chance to make music.

  17. Norah says:

    Just beautiful, Jennie. I’m glad you were brave and brought an extra joy to the night.

  18. Dan Antion says:

    You are my hero, Jennie!

  19. I loved watching you be brave. Not all “teachers” should teach. You were unlucky enough to get one that didn’t know how to bring the soul of music to the lesson. That’s what you do with reading. You are what a teacher should be. Brave! Bravo. Jennie.

  20. frenchc1955 says:

    Jennie, this is wonderful! Thank you so much!

  21. frenchc1955 says:

    Reblogged this on charles french words reading and writing and commented:
    Please enjoy this wonderful post from the excellent teacher, Jennie!

  22. Hi Jennie, a lovely post. You were brave. My oldest son was a good pianist and passed grade 5 theory and practical. Sadly he chose to give it up.

    • Jennie says:

      Thank you, Robbie. In my older years I have thought a lot about children giving up the piano. I bet in half of the cases it’s the teacher. Proficiency is one thing, relating to children has to come first. This reminds me of the movie, “Mr. Holland’s Opus.” Wonderful.

  23. dgkaye says:

    Loved this, and your bravery. ❤

  24. Jim Borden says:

    I admire your bravery – well done! And what a piano player!

  25. How fun, Jennie. You are brave, and a bit of a ham back there during Chopin. Lol. I loved the clip! Thanks for sharing.

  26. LaShelle says:

    I love that! I’m so glad you were brave and people got to enjoy the incredible talent both yours and hers!

  27. Wonderful, Jennie! Now the doors are open to establish a school band! 😉 Right? The students will love it. xx Michael

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