I’ve never taken writing seriously. It was always something “on the side” so all the opportunities that opened up this year are overwhelming. One of them is an article I submitted to a publisher looking for “Life Lessons From Teachers”. Of course I was thrilled when it was selected but, most of all, it makes me so happy to be able to honor my mentor teacher through this book of inspiring anecdotes. It’s only a short piece so I’m sharing it here:
by Reev Robledo
I never understood why she made me do it.
One after the other. Week in and week out. This year and the next. What’s the whole point? How will this make me better? Is she a crazy old loon? Only her reputation precedes my revelry and respect for her. What are you teaching me?
Almost two decades had passed and I accidently chanced upon an obscure announcement in the bulletin board while visiting the university. A legal-sized poster said: Onching Laureola’s remains lie at The Abelardo Hall. Her wake was inside the college’s famed auditorium.
And there she was. Dead. Or “fertilizing daffodils” as John Keating would say. That kind, frail woman had slipped into the afterlife and left a multitude of students, both young and old, with melancholic hearts and a sense of pride as their only comfort.
I went up the balcony where a haunting, but nonetheless enchanting, scene provided the ambience. My seat creaked. I began to relive many memories from a distant past. As a string quartet played by her coffin, I began to figure out what she was trying to teach me all along.
It was about being in control. Applying the right kind of pressure to express the right kind of emotion. Heaven’s gift had to be nurtured for it possessed great power. The ability to alter moods, touch hearts and even provide solace, demanded a certain kind of responsibility. Each pupil she had patiently guided was skillful, but only the brave and persistent ones saw the outcome of their mastered craft.
The quartet played on. Their sorrowful concerto resonated across the walls of the auditorium. While songs of prayer and sympathies were sung in silence.
Loud…soft…loud…soft…Yes, it finally made sense.
Unlike many years ago, my adult fingers would now hammer those ivory keys with precision and might—though my teacher would have probably frowned at my lack of practice and form. It was one of those exercises that eventually allowed the creation of melodies unthinkable to an adolescent boy relentlessly trying to perfect a beginner’s classical piece. The lessons had been worth it. Much more than I could have ever imagined.
However, playing by ear seemed much more fun. Having abandoned the discipline of the classics, I went on to entice my surroundings with familiar tunes that pop culture had brainwashed me with. Song after song. Lyric after lyric. It was a gift that encapsulated my very being and purpose. I must return to my roots and honor my mentor’s wishes.
After almost a hundred writings, several choirs, various scores and recordings through the years, the music played and plays on. For every recognition, respect and reward I have been blessed with, I honor the Lord Almighty and thank Him for sending an angel in the likeness of an immensely talented woman whom I love and hold in high esteem.
Onching Laureola was my piano teacher. She taught me how to fly.
Check out the book coming this August!