Callum’s singing teacher suggests he audition for a local choir. A few days later, Ian, one of the choir directors, listens while Callum sings a song from his repertoire. Yes, he can have a place. He will be a bass.

A few weeks later, Ian says, “I hear you’ve got a sister who sings.” Callum nods and Ian continues, “Bring her with you next week.”

So on Monday evening, Callum arrives with Imogen, who is clutching her music. She sings for Ian and he smiles and welcomes her to the soprano section.

One night, Ian says to Imogen, “I hear you play the piano. One day, you’ll have to bring along your music and play for me.”

Imogen looks rather nervous. Play for Ian? He’s a first class musician and piano teacher, and she hasn’t had a lesson for a long time. Her teacher retired and she’s out of practice. Imogen is sure she couldn’t play anything impressive. She smiles and hopes ‘one day’ is a long way off.

For a few weeks, Ian says, “One day you’ll have to play the piano for me…” And then ‘one day’ arrives: He says, “Next week, bring your music.”

So the next week, Imogen plays the piano and Ian listens. He smiles encouragingly.

The next morning, the phone rings and Imogen answers it. “It’s Ian. He wants to know if he can teach me the piano,” she says with a huge smile.

I know we can’t afford the fee for a top teacher like Ian so I say, “Please thank Ian but explain we have a large family, and can’t really afford lessons.”

Imogen hurries back, smile gone, to deliver my message. A couple of minutes later, she reappears. The smile has returned. “Ian says he wants to teach me piano. He doesn’t want payment.”

So a few days later, I sit outside Ian’s house while Imogen has her first piano lesson. When she reappears, I ask, “How did it go?”

“Wonderful!” she enthuses. “Ian asked if any of my sisters play the piano. I told him about Charlotte and he said to bring her along next week. He wants to teach us both.”

So each Monday evening, Callum and Imogen go to Ian’s house for choir practice. And every Thursday morning, I drop Imogen and Charlotte off for their piano lessons.

One evening, Callum asks Ian if Andy can join the choir too, “Dad is driving all the way into town to bring Imogen and me to the practices. Could Dad stay and sing too? He’s a good singer.”

Ian smiles and welcomes Andy to the choir. Another bass.

Imogen and Charlotte tell me Ian wants them to do their grade piano exams. He has already filled out the registration forms and paid the fees. All I have to do is bring the girls into town for extra lessons. All they have to do is practice hard, which they do willingly because they love music, and love pleasing Ian.

The day of the exam arrives and Ian accompanies the girls to the exam room. It is a freezing winter’s day and the cold exacerbates Ian’s ill health but he isn’t put off. He sits in front of the heater while the girls play their pieces. He is eager to know their results as soon as they emerge from their ordeal. “Read out the results,” he says excitedly. The girls obey and Ian smiles. “Two weeks’ holiday and we’ll start on the next grades’ work.” The girls enjoy the break but they’re also looking forward to tackling some new pieces of music.

For more than four years, Ian teaches and the girls practice. Ian enters them for exams and prepares them well, and the girls advance through the grades.

And for more than four years, Andy, Callum and Imogen attend choir practices and enjoy performing.

Music fills our home.

One stormy evening, the singers return home early. “The power was cut and the lights went out,” explains Andy. “We couldn’t see our music. We all used our mobile phones to find our way to the door.”

“Ian volunteered to show us the way,” says Callum. “He said, ‘If anyone wants to take my arm, I‘ll guide them to the door.' You know how he is. He thought it was very funny.” We think about this for a moment. For once Ian was in full control of the situation and everyone else was at a disadvantage. For of course, blackouts don’t affect the blind.

This year’s piano exams are almost here. In three weeks’ time, the girls will be heading off to the exam centre, hoping to play their best in the few minutes allotted to them. They will spend half an hour in the practice rooms before their exams. Then they will stand outside the examination room building, to await their turn. No doubt, as usual, the wind will be whipping around the corner making the girls shiver. They will find it difficult keeping their precious fingers warm. When their names are called, the girls will enter the building and head towards the examination room. The grand piano will be waiting. And they will play their best.

But this year, Ian won’t be sitting in front of the heater listening as Imogen and Charlotte play. He won’t be there to say, “Read out the results!” and add, “Congratulations! Well done!” He won’t give the girls two weeks' break before they start on the next grades’ work. No.

Ian died last Friday. Tomorrow we will say goodbye to an extraordinary person: an extraordinary musician, an extraordinary friend.

Ian, thank you for your friendship, your generosity, your encouragement, your laughter and sense of humour, your example. Thank you so much for including our family in your life and sharing your talents with us. You will live on in our memories. You will live on in the girls’ fingers. Imogen and Charlotte will be playing their best for you in three weeks’ time.

Ian, you are now in the Light and we remain behind, blind in the dark. And we are missing you.

One day we shall follow you Home.

Post a Comment

  1. People like Ian are so special, aren't they? God brings them into our lives and they make a difference. We'll be praying for Ian and for you all, tomorrow, Sue.

    Lots of love xxx

    1. Vicky,

      You are quite right: I also believe God brought Ian into our lives. He was a real blessing to our family.

      Thank you for your prayers and love.

  2. Sue, what a beautiful story! (As always, well-written. I was very surpised when you revealed that Ian was blind.) Ian sounds like a true blessing from God for your family and many others too, I'm sure. Keeping you all in prayer tomorrow.

    1. Stephanie,

      Yes, Ian was blind but he never let it him stop him from doing things. We don't believe he ever looked upon his blindness as a disability. He used it to help others. Ian was very involved in music for young blind people. Today at his funeral, we were treated to some exquisite music from those young people.

      Thank you so much for sharing Ian's story and for your prayers.

      God bless you!

  3. What a truly magnificent soul Ian must have...I know you will miss him very much. I will pray for him and for you all, as you say "good-bye" tomorrow.
    Pax Christi.

    1. Karla,

      We are already missing Ian so very much. It is hard to believe the girls will no longer be playing the piano with him each week.

      The funeral today, was full of such beautiful music. I am sure Ian would have enjoyed every note!

      Thank you for your prayers. They are appreciated.

      God bless!

  4. Chocking up, what a beautiful man, what a legacy. Praying for Ian and for you all as you mourn your dear friend who indeed lived a full life despite challenges.

    1. Erin,

      Ian certainly touched many lives. I think he thrived on the challenges of life. He is an example to all of us. I am so grateful we were part of his life.

      It is so good of you to stop and leave a message, as well as pray. Thank you, Erin!

      God bless you.

  5. What a gift he was. Choir AND piano. I am reading a delightful book, Amedeo by by Daphne Barclay (old and out of print - it's from 1958) There is a blind musician in it, too. Would you like to read it?

    1. Amy,

      We live in an area where music abounds. So many musicians have made their home here. There are choirs, recitals, concerts, opportunities to perform and listen... Through Ian, we have been included in a wonderful musical network, and our children have had the opportunity to sing and play the piano, have lessons and perform. Yes, Ian was a great gift.

      I would love to read the book you mentioned. I wonder if I could get hold of a copy.

      Thank you, Amy, for taking the time to comment, and for sharing Ian's story.

  6. What a blessing Ian was to your family! He must have loved teaching your girls the pain and working with the choir! Now he is singing and playing heavenly music!

    1. Noreen,

      I think Ian did enjoy teaching our girls. They were the last of a long line of students he taught. Ian was supposed to be retired but he couldn't quite give teaching away. So he continued to pass on his talents to the girls. Immy received the very last lesson Ian ever taught, 2 weeks ago. She thinks that is very special.

      We are missing Ian and his music but no doubt, as you said, he will continue to enjoy music in Heaven.

      God bless you, Noreen!

  7. Oh now you have said your goodbyes but I am still praying for you all as you continue to mourn. Your story of Ian was so much as you describe how beautiful Ian was. You could publish it as a short story!! May he rest in peace!

    1. Amanda,

      Thank you for sharing my story. I'm glad you think it is okay, because I tried to write something beautiful for Ian. I have posted it here but it is really meant for Ian's wife. I am going to give her a copy as my way of expressing what he meant to our family.

      Thank you so much for your prayers. They are appreciated.

      May God bless you!

  8. oh, Sue,you have written such a beautiful story. I am sure his wife will be so blessed by your words. You painted such a lovely picture of this lovely man with your words.....I could "see" the whole story.

    Thank you for sharing your memories and blessings with us. We have been with the same piano teacher for almost twenty years and all six kids.....she is "descended" from Beethoven, in fact. In the last two years, we have not been able to pay all of our fees, but she will not let us quit, but provides free lessons for us. I know the blessings of which you speak. She is so loved in our family, that a couple of my adult children want to return to her, out of their piano-student retirement, for lessons, using their own earned money to pay her.

    I will pray for Ian and all of those who loved him. May your children share his love of music with the rest of the world for the rest of their lives.

    1. Chari,

      It took me a long time before I could decide what to write about Ian. In the end I just kept it simple, but there is so much left unsaid, so many wonderful stories.

      I can see you understand perfectly about being blessed. Sometimes it is very difficult for large families to afford such things as good music teachers. I'm sure that God sends us the right people to help us. And those people don't just share their talents, they share their friendship and we are richer just for having known them.

      Thank you for sharing your own music story. I'm sure no teacher could replace your own dear piano teacher whom your children love so much. That's how we feel about Ian.

      "May your children share his love of music with the rest of the world for the rest of their lives." Chari, that's such a beautiful thought. The blessings can be passed on. Imogen actually teaches her younger sisters the piano so I guess she is already passing on the skills Ian has taught her.

      Thank you so much for visiting my blog and sharing my story, and thank you for praying for Ian.

      God bless.

    2. If you have more Ian stories, you should write them!

      My pleasure to pray!

      Only today, when my 17 year old consider the possibilty of a job she may get this semester.....she called me excitedly on the phone to say: "If I get this job, I can start paying Jean for piano lessons!" So endearing that she would think to do that and be excited. And a tribute to the teacher who shares their talent.

    3. Chari,

      Thank you for your encouragement. Probably I will write more about Ian. It will be like Thomas. One day, I will be thinking of him and suddenly want to share more.

      I hope your daughter gets the job! She sounds so delightful.

      God bless you!

  9. What a beautiful tribute you have written in Ian's honor, Sue. He sounds like a wonderful and kindhearted man. I am so sorry for your loss. May he rest in peace and may you continue to enjoy his gifts through your children's music. God bless.

    1. Mary,

      Thank you for your kind words. "...may you continue to enjoy his gifts through your children's music." That is a consoling thought. Music lives on even after we depart. It is passed from person to person. It really is a valuable gift.

      God bless you!


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