The Piano Guys: A Teacher and Student Promise

Julie Hewlett Funeral


A few weeks ago I reached out to my friends, The Piano Guys, Steven and Jon, to let them know about the passing of my Grandma Julie.

We had made the connection years ago that she had been their music teacher at Highland High School in Salt Lake City, UT.

That was a crazy thing for me to comprehend, since they’re world famous, classically trained, have billions of YouTube hits, millions of followers, and have made such a splash worldwide, and they always said how my Grandma was an inspiration to them, one of their favorite teachers, albeit terrifyingly demanding, but always fair.

What an incredible thing for a silly guy grandson, a much different type of performer with a vastly smaller audience, to have these wonderful, down to earth celebrities say such amazing things of my Grandma.

It was with trepidation and some prodding from others in the family, however, that I made a BIG ASK: Would you be willing to perform a number at her funeral? 

I do all I can to not ask anyone to do anything…in fact, quite often to my own detriment and regret. Part of the reason I teach The Promise is that I have promised myself to NOT do everything myself, and ask others for help and share their Signature Moves.

Usually when we ask for help people come through, but this was an ask I was quite uncomfortable with, since these guys are both friends and heroes of mine, and they’re pretty dang busy, always on tour around the world.

But I cautiously asked.

They responded that they were thrilled to be asked, and even more grateful to be available and in town that very day, to honor a teacher who made such a difference to them as young students.

Imagine how our entire family felt as the actual Piano Guys walked into the chapel, sat down in the front, and masterfully performed one of the most beautiful, astounding pieces you will ever hear LIVE, titled “The Mission / How Great Thou Art”.  Below are two recorded versions of this masterpiece.

The first in Brazil at Christ The Redeemer statue and Iguazu Falls.

The second performing along the famed Tabernacle Choir.




As we sat, mourning the passing of our loved one, tears streaming down our faces, enjoying the beauty and power of their mastery, it was a moment we’ll always cherish.

Here’s the photo I snuck during the funeral performance –


The Piano Guys, Steven Sharp Nelson and Jon Schmidt, perform at Julie Hewlett Funeral


And then it hit me:

Without her, the Teacher, maybe we wouldn’t have them, The Piano Guys, as the gifts to the world they’ve become.

Without them, the Students, she as Teacher wouldn’t have had anyone to teach and push, inspire and share her gifts.

And now, working in tandem, they have blessed the world exponentially through each other!

The Promise of The Teacher and The Promise of The Student are an interdependent one.

Most teachers never know the result of their efforts. Most students never have a chance to say Thank You in a proper way.

A few years ago, The Piano Guys found out my Grandma was coming to their concert – so they rolled out the red carpet. Backstage passes, front row seats, the whole shebang! I didn’t know this story until after I had asked them to perform at her funeral.

They had already honored her in life, and that would have been enough!

Yet, here they were, in front of our family, performing at her final performance, as if it were their first and last opportunity to share their gifts.

It was so beautiful and profound. What incredible men to do this (* later I even found out it was Jon’s birthday that very day, and he said nothing of it…my goodness).

As school rolls around after another summer break, I pray for the teachers, to realize the profound lives they lead, especially when the challenges of teaching makes them question their original promise to do so.

I pray for the children to honor their teachers, and families to support those efforts, as a promise to do all we can to lift, guide, and love our little ones.

Having spoken to thousands of teachers in the past few weeks as they prepare to return, I hope they’ll remember my Grandma Julie, teacher of Steven and Jon, normal kids in their class who turned out to be superheroes in the world as The Piano Guys, and the impact a teacher can have.

The Promise of the Teacher is to guide those they lead to discover and share their voice.

The Promise of the Student is to honor the teacher by sharing that discovery.

Promise kept by The Piano Guys and my Grandma Julie.

Have a great school year, my friends.



~ Jason Hewlett

Husband, Father, Writer, Mentor, Hiker

  • Speaker Hall of Fame * Award-Winning Entertainer * Coach & Mentor
  • World’s Only Keynote Speaker utilizing entertainment, musical impressions, and comedy to teach The Promise
  • Author of “The Promise To The One”



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19 thoughts on “The Piano Guys: A Teacher and Student Promise”

  1. Absolutely beautiful. There are many great, good people in the world.
    Good for you for asking and great of them to be available sharing their amazing gifts. Their performance will be ringing in my heart and soul throughout the day.
    I will be forwarding your blog to my many teacher friends.
    You continue to be a blessing,

  2. How beautiful that was, not just your story of your dear grandma Julie, but listening to the performances of these two talented men. Grateful that all your friends and family had the opportunity to have them share their talents that started with their teacher, your Grandma, what a tribute it must have been. Thank you for sharing this with us all.

  3. Steven Lee Elder

    Such a great example of The Promise and you shared it so beautifully with us through your words. This inspired me to make sure I keep my promise each day. Thank you, Jason. You bless many lives with your talents, including your talent for storytelling.

  4. The teaching profession is among the most under-appreciated and underrated. Thank you for sharing this experience and your thoughts, Jason.

  5. I loved this! It’s amazing how many lives Grandma Julie touched! What a beautiful thing to see her gifts come full circle as The Piano Guys performed at her funeral! You brought up an interesting perspective to think of the role of the students, for without them, the teacher wouldn’t have anyone to teach and push, inspire and share her gifts. As a teacher and coach, your post caused me to reflect on how my students bless me by receiving and valuing my gifts. They give me purpose and motivate me in my journey to learn and grow myself. I feel such gratitude for my students! Thank you for sharing!

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