Michael Pearce Donley



I don’t really know where to begin — or where to end — with my gratitude for Mike. We met in 1981 at Cleveland Heights High School. He was the star musical performer of the senior class and I was a lowly sophomore.

I had been taking classical piano lessons since second grade and could never quite get excited about it. But it was the only formula I knew. I thought there must be something wrong with me so I kept trying.

Somewhere in all this, I got this great girlfriend. I followed her into Bill Thomas’ Heights Singers. I got a chance to be with the girl — and became a serendipitist. Along came Mike. I was in awe. I couldn’t play the piano like that. More importantly, I wasn’t having his kind of fun. I screwed up my courage and asked him to be my piano teacher. He agreed and my life changed.

Because of him, it continues to change. I got to accompany my then-erstwhile girlfriend for her senior solo, an improv version of Somewhere Over the Rainbow. I never would have been able to do that — or so many other things — without Mike.

I got to catch up with him yesterday, 29 years later. He was back in Cleveland Heights giving a visiting-home concert. Teary-eyed, I was able to thank him in a way I couldn’t those many years ago when in possession of only a 17-year-old heart and mind.

Thanks, Mike. My gratitude continues to grow.

Here’s Mike’s youtube channel.

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