I sat up straight whenever I was at my desk in Ms. Fenty’s music class at Elementary School P.S 139 in Brooklyn. I sat up straight because that is what she did when she sat at the piano. She sat up straight. Her chin slightly raised. Her long fingers always adorned with rings. Big shiny rings. Ms. Fenty was poised, regal, and serious about chorus. A very tall woman with the most magnificent gold framed glasses I had ever seen, she scared and fascinated me all at the same time. She played the piano with authority as she commanded us to open our mouths and “Sing children! Sing!” I can still hear her voice booming over the sounds of the keys as she passionately pounded out our melody. Frosty the snowman, Jingle Bells, and Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer. I learned and loved these songs. They were magical because Ms. Fenty made them so. She explained who Parson Brown was. She made us feel the triumph of Rudolph when he was asked to guide the sleigh. Rudolph was powerful. We were powerful. Especially when we sang. We were powerful when we sang because Ms. Fenty helped us to see the power of music. Our concerts at Kings Plaza Shopping Center in Brooklyn were the highlight of my school year for many reasons. I loved to sing. I loved the stories behind what I sang. Most of all though, I loved the look of pride on Ms. Fenty’s face. The feeling of importance that she gave me when I walked behind her and on to the platform of the stage. There were other students there too of course, but it may as well have just been her and I. I wanted to make her proud. I opened my mouth, knew all of the words to every song, and sang!
I made her proud.
Ms. Fenty did not tell me she loved me every day, nor did she coddle me. She didn’t invite me to sit at her piano and tell me how great I was. Ms. Fenty did however make me feel like I could do anything. I watched how she carried herself. The way she walked and talked. She believed she could do anything. She was firm and fair. I watched the no nonsense way she had of handling students and even adults at times. She loved music, and I loved that she loved it. Her passion for music gave me a passion for words
Ms. Fenty stayed with me. In my heart that is. I never forgot all that I learned from her. Oh , and I remembered the songs too.