I hid in our stairway because my clarinet teacher, Mr. Robert Wiens, showed up at our house one day after school.
No, I did not do anything to get myself in trouble—except turn in my instrument. I quit.
My parents knew it. My piano teacher knew it. But when Mr. Wiens found out, he did not like it. Not one bit. And he drove twelve miles out to our farm to say so.
It wasn't like I didn't have any musical talent, for I could already read music. So how could I make such a decision to quit? I was only in fifth grade. But someone, who shall remain nameless, lead me to believe it was taking time away from my pursuit of piano.
Mr. Wiens, known for producing outstanding marching bands as well as concert performers, respectfully explained to my parents how one instrument would enhance the other.
After Mr. Wiens left and I emerged from my hideout, my parents and I discussed the situation. I decided the lucky rabbit’s foot would go back on the case, and Mom and Dad agreed to purchase the new clarinet for around $150.
A few days later I was at my weekly clarinet lesson with classmate Adele Peterson where Mr. Wiens would sit between us and smoke his cigarette. Yes, the blessed ’70’s. I did not mind, for I knew he cared about me.
I never did get to march under him though because Mr. Wiens left our school the next year. In fact, for the next seven years, Hitchcock went through three music teachers. Guess he was a tough act to follow.
I played piano much better than I did clarinet, but I enjoyed marching band, pep band, concert band, and particularly our ensembles.
One year at contest, our clarinet quartet experienced a debacle. One of us—probably me, certainly not Debbie Goehring—pulled off the top of the music stand as we prepared to perform. Our music flew all over the floor. We contained our laughter somehow, and I believe we managed a superior.
Whatever happened to the clarinet since it did not go back to the Music Center in Huron ran by the Pepper family? It stayed in the Hofer family. My oldest niece Evelynn used it.
Whatever happened to Mr. Wiens? Ironically, years later he ended up near a family member, my sister Priscilla. He lived in Bridgewater, but I am not sure what he did there. In fact, she gave me some home decor that he made out of wood. Hitchcock people will remember that he was a carpenter of sorts.
Sure would be nice to see Mr. Wiens again. Maybe this post will find him.
Have you ever experienced a teacher like this? One who went out his way for the benefit of your education? If so, share in the comment section below.
Writer’s Note: for another story about the role of music in my life, read the blog post entitled, Mom’s Pestering Pays Off.