When I was three-four years old, I constantly tinkered around the antique upright piano in our home. My grandmother had a friend, Mrs. Stonebraker, who taught piano lessons but she said I was too young for lessons. Because of her friendship with my grandmother, she reluctantly agreed to a trial basis. As it turns out, I had some natural ability, and thus began my musical journey.
I remember lessons at her house, which was not far from my grandparents’ home. She was sweet but stern. One day, I skipped a difficult passage of bass clef and she asked me why I didn’t play it. I told her my dad said I didn’t have to. Both she and my mother quickly decided that i DID, and she helped me learn it.
I studied with her for several years before finding a teacher closer to our home. As a very young child, I don’t think I really knew much about the Stonebraker family, and quickly adapted to my new teacher, with whom I studied for about the next ten years, before studying with Professor Rummo at Duquesne University.
Fast forward thirty some years, to the church I now serve in a town east of Pittsburgh. One of our congregants names is Stonebraker. From the first time I heard it years ago, I wondered if there was a connection, but never asked. Last fall, though, She posted some small furniture on the Facebook market place, which I bought for my daughter’s house at college. When I met her for the purchase, I asked. Turns out her husband is my piano teachers’ son! Not only that, but his sister also attends our church!
During our discussion I learned so much more about her! Ruby was an accomplished musician, composer and pianist with extensive study in New York City and Carnegie Music Hall. She gave her life to Christian music through education and her church. Her husband was a Wesleyan minister who founded the International Student Fellowship with the University of Pittsburgh. His funeral, in 2012, was held at our church, though I did not play for it. Ruby had already passed in 2003.
On Sunday, a woman introduced herself to me as Mrs Stonebraker’s daughter. She said she never quite learned how to play the piano despite her mother’s record, but would like to take lessons, and asked if I teach. I do, indeed. We exchanged information and I’m looking forward to planting a new seed.
I had no idea, when I started piano lessons all those years ago, that the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob was orchestrating music ministries to span generations as they have. I am convinced, more than other, that He cares about every last detail of our lives, and, until we breathe our last, we are to be faithful to the purpose to which He has called us. I am equally convinced in this affirmation that my love of music, and my love of instilling the love of music in others is part of the purpose He has for me. I am confident He will continue to reveal His plan for me as I continue to seek His will.
Be blessed, today, my friends.