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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Music (03/08/07)

TITLE: Dana’s Gift


“Dana, why do you want to play the flute?”

“Mostly because of my father… I like the flute.”

“You really need to practice more if your want to improve.”

“Yes, Miss Olsen, but it’s hard sometimes.”

Twelve year old Dana was one of many students I’ve taught during my twenty years as a music teacher. Although Dana had been a reliable student, she hadn’t improved during the first few months of attending the Olsen Academy of Music. Following our brief conversation, she seemed to lose interest and eventually ceased coming.

Almost eight months later, I was preparing the end of year concert. I sent invitations to families of students that I’d taught during the year. It’s customary, though not compulsory, for current students to play a piece of their choice for the recital. Two weeks before the concert I received an unexpected telephone call.

“Hello, Miss Olsen, it’s Dana.”

“Dana, what can I do for you?”

“I want to play in the concert.”

For a moment I wasn’t sure what to say. I just sat there with the handset to my ear. Dana was quiet, too.

“Dana,” I finally answered, “I’d love to have you play, but only current students can participate. You and your family are quite welcome to attend, of course.”

The change in Dana’s voice was enthusiastic but it also held a little anxiety.

“I’ve been practicing, Miss Olsen—honest. I haven’t been able to get to lessons because of my mother being so busy.”

I’m not sure why, but I agreed. The program had already been typed but not yet finalized. Adding Dana’s name, I saved the document to a disc. The following morning I took the disc to the printers to have the program professionally printed and mailed out. I quickly scrawled Dana’s details to the list of addressees.

The concert progressed without a hitch. I was impressed with the effort and enthusiasm the students put into their music preparation; some had chosen to combine their talents with duets. I was about to introduce the last student on the program when I was suddenly aware Dana hadn’t arrived. I have to admit, I felt a small pang of guilt at my relief. I started to announce the evening’s closure, when Dana appeared at the side door with her mother.

Dana proceeded to the stage and ascended the stairs. She stood beside me, her flute and music in hand. I noticed her eyes were slightly bloodshot and revealed a hint of sadness.

“Are you all right to play, Dana?” I had asked.

“Yes, Miss Olsen.”

“And, what will you play for us tonight?”

Dana faced the audience. “Handel’s Concerto, 4th movement in G Minor.”

I watched her place the sheet music onto the stand. The audience waited patiently as she adjusted her flute. Moving to the side of the stage, I desperately tried to think up a quick fix. By the third bar, I was spellbound. Music filled the auditorium. Her skill left me amazed. Her pitch and timing were almost perfect. Part of the way through the enchanting performance, I noticed the flute that she held so elegantly was not her usual. It was an older, more sophisticated instrument which included a B-foot that extended the flute by about two inches and softened its tone. I found myself disappointed in not having the opportunity to hear the full fourteen minutes of the four movements as she played the driving conclusion with precision.

Dana lowered her instrument and the audience clapped enthusiastically. Walking toward her, I couldn’t help but smile. The audience fell silent.

“Dana, you’ve been practicing. That was absolutely beautiful, but why did you choose this particular piece?”

“Well, Miss Olsen… a year ago my father got cancer and it was hard for me to practice because of his pain. In April, he went into the hospital for chemotherapy. Handel’s Concerto has always been his favorite piece of music. I wanted to be good enough to play it when he came home.”

I glanced down to see her mother weeping quietly in the front row. When I turned back to Dana I saw the sadness had returned to her eyes.

“Daddy died this morning—this is Daddy’s flute. Do you think he heard me play?”

I held her as the tears flowed. The audience rose to their feet. The answer came as the whole auditorium erupted in applause.

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This article has been read 1157 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Marilyn Schnepp 03/15/07
A wonderful story beautifully written.
Loren T. Lowery03/15/07
This was beautifully told. Everything melding together so perfectly.
julie wood03/15/07
A beautiful story! The opening dialogue drew me in right away--and the main character's "bloodshot eyes" proved an effective foreshadowing that something was not quite right in her life. Very moving message.

I liked the title, too--the use of a personal name at once sparked my curiosity!
Marilee Alvey03/15/07
I liked the pace of this story. I was thinking that it was all simply another routine music concert but I couldn't have been more wrong. It just shows you how it's good to give others a lot of leeway. You never know what they're going through. Hurray for Dana! Well done, author!
Sara Harricharan 03/15/07
This about made me cry just reading it! Dana is such a wonderful, complicated character I wish I could have known her more. I guessed that it was her father's flute that she'd been playing, but I didn't see the twist that her father was dead. This was very realistic and touching to read. It leaves you with a happy feeling and misted eyes. Well done! ^_^
Pat Guy 03/15/07
Wow! And Wow! This is not only beautiful ... it's exquisite! I soooooo loved this piece! Bravo!
Janice Fitzpatrick03/15/07
Exquisite. You go. Wow. My only request from now on is to please include kleenex with a press button for viewers.:0)Brushing my tears and clearing my throat after being so moved by this. Way to go!
cindy yarger03/16/07
Kind of left me speechless here. This was wonderful.
Julie Arduini03/16/07
I am fighting letting out a sob right now this piece has gripped me that strongly. Candid, emotional, moving, and what an awesome way to use music. Absolutely amazing work.
Julie Ruspoli03/16/07
The first sentence caught my eye; I have played the flute since grade school. But I kept reading because the story was so well written and interesting. I had tears in my eyes after reading the ending and I had to leave the room so my kids didn't think something was wrong. Great article!
Mo 03/16/07
Yes, a tear-jerker (& I read the commnets 1st & knew what to expect). Very well done!
Ruth Neilson03/16/07
this is a beautiful piece, but I seem to have read something along these lines before. But its still beautiful!
Shari Armstrong 03/16/07
A beautiful piece, well written. I predicted the ending, however that didn't detract from the overall effect - just showed good foreshadowing :)
Amy Michelle Wiley 03/16/07
This was indeed beautiful. Your foreshadowing was perfect--just enough to give us a hint of what was coming, but not too much. Well done.
Ruth Neilson03/17/07
me again, and I think I know why it seemed familiar to me. There was an email that I saw years ago about a kid on a random sports team that was a horrible player until the last game of the season when he begged his coach to put him in. Turns out one of his parents was blind and they passed away and this was the first time the parent could see the child play the sport.

I'm sorry for making it sound like I was accusing you of plagerising something. Didn't mean it like that--honest.
Verna Cole Mitchell 03/17/07
A beautiful story! Great job!
Val Clark03/19/07
Jan Ackerson 03/19/07
LIke the sort of thing you'd read in the "Chicken Soup" books...nice!
Sharlyn Guthrie03/19/07
This is such a great story. I'm glad that she got to play. It no doubt meant the world to her. Talk about timing!
Angela M. Baker-Bridge03/19/07
Remarkable, heart-warming, and a challenge for us all. You so aptly presented a story that illustrates what can be accomplished when we set our minds to it, are dedicated, and committed! Thank you for using Your Gift.
Sheri Gordon03/19/07
Yeah, you made me cry. My sisters and I sang at our parents' funeral -- they died together in a car accident. We asked the same question -- "Do you think they heard us sing?" Thank you for this story -- it was heartwrenching.
Joanney Uthe03/19/07
I will comment as soon as I dry my eyes and get rid of these goose-bumps. What a powerful story!
Myrna Noyes03/20/07
Wow! What a heart-touching story! This was so well-written, and I was very "into" it as I read!
Jacquelyn Horne03/20/07
Oh, how you got me! What a beautiful story. Cheers for Dana.
Joanne Sher 03/20/07
Beautiful. This felt so authentic and engaging.
Sandra Petersen 03/21/07
Chrissy, in my humble opinion, I think this is one of your best, most touching works yet. You had me in tears (and lately it's been difficult to move me to tears.) My applause for a masterful story.
T. F. Chezum03/21/07
A very well told, wonderful story. Excellent job.
Sara Harricharan 03/22/07
Congrats Chrissy! ^_^
terri tiffany03/22/07
You made me cry!! This was so beautifully done - packed with detail - my daughter played the flute so it had more special meaning - but the ending tore me up:) Great job - well deserved win!!
Loren T. Lowery03/22/07
I am very happy to see you and your article in the winner's circle. A beautiful job, congratulations!
Kate Grey03/22/07
I agree: Exquisite. Masterful. Very good use of foreshadowing. Congratulations, friend!
Clyde Blakely03/23/07
Wonderful testamony of love and dedication. Thank you.

And thank you for the notice of my placement in the beginner's category.

Congratulations on your #1!

God bless and keep writing.
Marty Wellington 03/23/07
What a sweet, touching story. Congratulations Chrissy on a well-deserved win!
Thomas Kittrell03/23/07
Chrissy, this is very touching.
Mona Lisa03/23/07
Excellent! Thank GOD! for Kleenex. The depth of Dana's devotion to reach the deadline of the recital during a difficult time, astounds me. A good message of perseverance. Congratulations on your win.
Valora Otis03/25/07
Chrissy! Congrats! This is such a lovely piece of writing. I felt like giving Dana a standing ovation as well. I played the flute as a young girl...thanks for bringing back such a flood of memories. Guess I'll have to get it out and play this week. Way to go my friend! Hugs, Val
Elizabeth Baize03/25/07
I really love your stories, and this one is no exception. How beautiful!!