the great things about my job as a piano teacher is I often get to
work with the same student for several years.
students I have taught for more than 10 years, watching them launch
into adulthood with missions, marriages, and college.
a former student (we’ll call him Jason), who I had taught from
the third grade until he graduated from high school, invited me to
attend the temple with him as he went for the first time in
preparation for accepting his mission call. I was thrilled.
husband graciously took care of the children while I disappeared for
a few hours on Saturday.
sat down next to Jason’s mother (we’ll call her Susan) in
the chapel of the temple, waiting for our turn to attend a session,
she leaned over to me, thanked me for coming, and whispered, “You
know, it really does take a village.”
pondered her words throughout my visit to the temple that day. Jason
looked so handsome and pure. He was ready to accept his role as an
adult in the Kingdom of God.
ways it was a miracle he was there that day. Between ADHD and type 1
diabetes, his life has not been easy.
thought about the day I called Susan when he was about 13 years old.
I told her he really wasn’t practicing at all, and was not
making any progress. I wondered if she felt she was wasting her money
and maybe piano was not really what he wanted to do. She shared
something that truly humbled me.
that Jason had been adopted as a baby, but I didn’t know that
the one promise his birth mother had asked for was that he be given
was determined to honor that promise. She felt that as long as he was
enjoying coming to lessons, she didn’t care if he never learned
very much piano.
the years she began to joke that piano lessons were the cheapest
therapy she’d ever found.
true—Jason didn’t practice much. But, he did talk to me.
Things he didn’t want to tell his mother, things he was upset
about at school, things that scared him—he told me these things
because he knew he could trust me.
especially remember one day in the last year of his lessons. He came
in very upset. I tried to get him to play something we had been
working on. He clearly didn’t want to play anything. So I
key—waiting for a teen to start the talking. Too often we
adults want to hurry up, get to the point, stop talking so I can tell
you what you should do now, because I know everything, blah blah
a little teary. He said his best friend had decided to become
sexually active with his girlfriend. His best friend had been raised
in the Church, and had always seemed to have a testimony. It was
somewhat devastating for Jason to see his friend make these choices.
It forced him to reevaluate his own beliefs as well as his friendship
with this other young man.
remember feeling so proud of Jason that day, because it was clear his
friend’s choices were serving to galvanize his own sense of
morality rather than undermine it. It was obvious that somewhere
along the line he had developed his own testimony, independent of
those he loves.
end of the temple session that day I found myself standing next to
Jason’s aunt in the Celestial Room. I knew that she had never
had children of her own, but had dedicated all her mothering energy
to her niece and nephews, one of which was Jason.
so clear to me that she and her husband loved Jason as though he was
the adults that love Jason surround and congratulate him in that holy
place, I couldn’t help but agree with Susan. It does take a
Jason, it took a birth mother who loved him enough to place him in a
stable home; adoptive parents who took him without a moment’s
hesitation, although they didn’t know exactly what they were in
for; an aunt and uncle that served as a second set of parents;
grandparents, friends, and teachers (like me!) who accepted him as he
parent, I pray that my children and I find this kind of support in
our extended family, ward, and schools. And I choose to be that kind
of support when a child comes into my life through any avenue.
my favorite stories from the Book of Mormon, since becoming a mother,
is that of the armies of Helaman. I love that these teenage boys saw
the right choice when it came to them because their mothers had
taught them the Gospel.
all Mormon moms love that verse, “We do not doubt our mothers
knew it.” (Alma 56:48)
their mommies were not marching to war with them. Who was? Helaman,
righteous leadership and respect for these young men, who were mostly
teenage boys, made all the difference. He saved their lives.
unlikely that as a Primary leader, Sunday School teacher, aunt, or
neighbor that I will have the opportunity to save children from
violence. But, in each of those roles, perhaps I can do just a little
bit to save their souls.
Emily S. Jorgensen is an independent music teacher in the Provo/Orem, Utah, area. She is an
active adjudicator and lecturer across the Wasatch front. She has held several positions in the
Utah Music Teachers Association. She has three children and is expecting her fourth soon.
Emily grew up in Tacoma, Washington, earning her International Baccalaureate diploma in high
school. She was awarded a Trustees Scholarship at BYU, and was graduated from BYU with a
Bachelor of Music in Piano Performance and a Masters of Arts in Elementary Music Education.
She taught group piano classes at BYU, and has operated a private studio for 16 years, where she
has taught private and group music lessons for ages 2 through adult.
Emily currently serves as Primary president in her LDS ward, and is still married to her high school