Thank you for the music

I heard earlier this week (thanks to the facebook grapevine) that my beloved elementary school music teacher, Mrs. Hoch, died earlier this month. I happen to hear this news on the same day as Zach’s orchestra concert and just a few days after Zach’s big moment singing the national anthem at the JCU Relay For Life event. I felt like the universe was telling me I had to write about Mrs. Hoch and how she impacted my life. So hear goes…

Mrs. Hoch was my music (choir) teacher at Heim Elementary (grades 1-5) in Buffalo, NY during the mid to late seventies (yes I’m old!). As a little girl I always loved music and singing and Mrs. Hoch was a big part of helping set that foundation for me for the rest of my life. The highlight of my memories with Mrs. Hoch was the Rip Van Winkle musical in which I had a lead part in 5th grade. I played “Dame Van Winkle”, Rip’s wife, and I still remember having to yell, “RIP!! RRRIIIIIPPPPPPP!!! RIP VAN WINKLE!!” at the top of my lungs yelling about the cabin being such a mess and how much I have to work (I haven’t changed much in 30 years!!). I also remembered having to wash my hair a few times after each show because of all the baby powder that we used to make my hair look gray! I had a few solo songs that I probably could still remember all the words to (we have the show on VHS tape somewhere!) and I remember getting a bouquet of flowers from my leading man (hmm…what was his name? My sister probably remembers) at the end of one of the shows. But beyond remembering all of the details about that show, I remember how I felt. I remember feeling important, special and that I was good at something. During those days I began to think that my singing voice might be better than the average bear and that felt really good. This feeling of being good at singing is something that I would cling to in darker days of high school when I wasn’t sure that there was anything else I could do well. Mrs. Hoch instilled that feeling in me through her teaching, love, creativity and generosity.

My hope is that kids can always have music. My hope is that schools can continue to offer wonderful music programs (bands and choirs) so that kids can discover those gifts inside them and be able to express themselves through music. I’m thankful that Zach has a great music program in Hudson and I’m thankful that he seems to have that little ember in him that is stirred by music. My wish and hope is that even as a boy Zach can still find a way to be okay with loving to sing. I have already heard him say things like, “I don’t like choirs…I just like to sing”. It saddens me that our society seems to have a stigma on boys who have the ability and who like to sing. Maybe Zach will have a Mrs. Hoch in his life someday. I sure hope so.

Thank you for the music, Mrs. Hoch. Now you can help direct the choirs of angels. May you rest in peace. Until we meet again…

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