My music teacher

Margaret Therkelsen is a rare individual. Upon arriving at Asbury College as a freshman and being placed in her studio as an aspiring piano major, I was immediately intimidated, not only by her stature, but her strict demeanor. We wouldn’t dare come in unprepared or under-practiced! Yet, she had tremendous compassion for my tears that sometimes erupted at lessons because I was so homesick. I later learned that the music faculty had been praying for me and they weren’t sure if, “this little girl from Georgia was going to make it.” She listened and counseled and helped me get through that very difficult first semester.

Over the years, our studio grew to love her and bond together as a music family under her leadership. She fussed at us when we did poorly, put the fear of God in us to not dare put in our practice time and neglect spending time with God, but at the same time, we learned to find a way to get our practicing in “come hell or high water.”

She was purely and simply fun to be with—a huge personality. She took us to concerts in Cincinnati and invited us to her home where John would fix us a delicious home-cooked meal “extra-ordinaire.” Besides all our music training, she counseled us about everything from spiritual issues to time management to boyfriends. She was a confidant and mentor and I was challenged pianistically to achieve far beyond what I ever dreamed possible.

Over the years we have kept in close touch. She continues to mentor me in the life of prayer. I have watched her be transformed from “one degree of glory to another” as God has swallowed up her life in Him. Besides my parents, I would have to say she is at the top of the list of those who’ve had the greatest impact and influence on my life. I’m so thankful for all my experiences at Asbury College, but by far my relationship with my piano professor, Mrs. “T.,” has been a gift from God that continues to enrich my life 25 years later.

by Becky McGill ’80 Barber