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What would you do with a Yamaha baby grand piano if you were retiring from teaching piano?

You could sell it, of course, but resident DeDe Rudolphy has other plans for the instrument when she leaves the profession after more than 20 years.

“What I would really like to do is cover it with something protective and turn it into a bar where people can sit and visit and enjoy the beautiful piano,” Rudolphy said.

On retirement, Rudolphy and her husband, Craig, who is retiring as finance director with the Town of Fountain Hills, will do some traveling, explore Arizona and just enjoy themselves.

Meanwhile, she has several names of piano teachers to whom she will refer.

Leaving teaching won’t be easy, but Rudolphy said she has so many great memories, and she will hold on to them.

She started teaching when the Lorenz family asked if she would teach their three children.

“Then word got out [that I was teaching piano],” Rudolphy said. “I think I have had at least 150 kids over the years.”

She has many success stories, and listening to her talk about her students, you can tell she has loved teaching piano.

One of her students wrote a song for her, called “A Song for DeDe.”

“They recorded it, printed the music and played it at a recital,” she said. “It was really special.”

Some of her students were with her for nine years. Others had to go to the next level.

“They got better than me, so they had to move up,” she said.

Rudolphy helped her students enjoy music by helping them discover the kind of music they liked. She also tailored lessons to each student so they got the most out of the training.

“Learning music is learning a new language,” she said. “Enjoying what you are learning makes it so much better.”

She has taught students as young as four and as old as 85.

“A four-year-old really has to be motivated,” Rudolphy said. “Not every child that young can accomplish the piano. I suggest to parents kids start a little older than that so they are ready to do the work.”

She has taught piano to autistic children. Her background as a special education teacher enabled her to help the young people do well with music.

“It is so wonderful to see the light go on when they begin to understand the music,” she said. “Teaching special needs children can be challenging, but their abilities are not surprising.”

In addition to retiring from piano teaching, Rudolphy soon will leave her other part time job as secretary at The Fountains, A United Methodist Church.

“I will be at the church a little longer and then I’ll be completely retired,” she said. “But I have a lot of plans. I’ll miss this part of my life, but I’m looking forward to the next adventure.”