Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Mr. Haruda (Day 8)

haruda 2

All I knew, my freshman year of college, was that my voice teacher, Mr. Haruda, loved to sing opera.  That made sense.  He was a voice instructor after all.

Not that I had much of a future as a singer, really-let alone an opera singer.  I’d simply taken a group voice class to fulfill one of my basic requirements.  My teacher suggested I look into private lessons.  He said I had potential.  And so I signed on with Mr. Haruda.

Once a week, we met in a small studio for fifty minutes of instruction.  He would play the piano, while I tried my best to sing some particular piece of music the right way.  And patiently Mr. Haruda would stop me and demonstrate in his own voice-possibly good once, I thought, but failing now.   I chalked it up to his advancing  age.   Little did I know.  There was a story behind Mr. Haruda’s life.  A story of great hopes-and heartbreak.

Joseph Haruda had one great  ambition in his youth.  He dreamed of singing with the Metropolitan Opera.  In a demonstration of how talent and  hard work pay off,  he auditioned for, and was accepted into the Julliard School of Music in New York.  To pay for his tuition, he performed in shows on Broadway, and at one time he was even critiqued by Walter Winchell, who proclaimed that the young Joseph Haruda had a bright future ahead of him.  High praise from someone who was considered to be the most influential Broadway critic of his day.

And then came World War II.  Mr. Haruda served with the Army Air Forces in North Africa, and it was there that his dream began to die.  The blowing sand irritated and damaged his throat, eventually requiring surgery.  His voice, and his brightly lit future, were gone.

Wanting somehow, to continue contributing to the world of music, Mr. Haruda went back to school to become a music teacher.  He would still be able to use his talent-by helping others pursue their dreams.  With a master’s degree in hand, he accepted a teaching position at the university I would attend years later.

Seated at the piano, once a week  Mr. Haruda would accompany me and listen as I twittered and warbled my way awkwardly through song after song.   I never sensed any bitterness or regret in him, and he never talked about his past, nor did he hint at what might have been.  For 50 minutes, Mr. Haruda was focused on me, his student.  A student with no promise for anything more than a willingness to try.

And all that time, I was in the presence of true greatness.  I just didn’t know it.


  1. I just wanted to cry reading this. It's amazing how our plans can change through no fault of our own. But I wonder, in the end, if Mr. Haruda made a bigger difference in the world as a teacher? I like to think so. God always has a plan, after all!

  2. Lisa-it was so tragic. What amazes me is that he never hinted about his own great talent. He just focused on teaching his students.

    Melissa-I think he did make more of difference as a teacher, even though it wasn't what he had dreamed of doing. His wife was a sweetheart too. I showed up to one lesson with a cold-and he called his wife and put me on the phone with her so that she could tell me what to do to get better. Yes-a couple of truly great people:)

  3. This post tugged at my heartstrings.

    I would like to think there were other miracles in his life that he would not have discovered on his initial path. Isn't that the way it is for all of us?

  4. Mr. Haruda seems like a hero in so many ways. How brave of him to move forward with his singing passion in such a generous way. I hope that one of his students eventually made it to the stage and shared that glory with him :)

  5. I'm glad you told his story. There's so much bravery and goodwill in the world and it is largely undersung. Ahem.

    Also, this almost sounds like one of your period pieces. Love!

  6. This is truly a sad story. I think all the more endearing because he never talked about what he could have been. I too took singing lessons in high school. I am no singer I tell you. I had a friend who was very talented but her parents refused to pay for lessons. I remember feeling guilty that I was allowed to have lessons when I knew my singing would never go anywhere and here she was talented with no guidance.

  7. Tina-I hope so too:)

    Joanne-I've had that same wish for him. I think the music program did turn out some pretty talented singers.

    C-Definitely undersung;) Thanks for the great vintage compliment:)

    Kim-the story of your friend is sad. I hope at some point she was able to pursue her dreams too:)

  8. @Valerie Thanks for passing by and putting across such warm and encouraging comments on my works.
    Am so much touched by the life story of your private music tutor but thanks be to God he believes in you so don't let him down.You can do's all a matter of the mindset, self believe and action..Meanwhile try and look at the movie which highly inspired me." DEAD POETS SOCIETY."Meanwhile try and share my works with networked friends to impact lives.Great day.

  9. Thanks Ebendy, I will watch that movie! Your words are very inspiring:) I always find a lot of meaning in them! Thank you!! :)