These things happen only in movies. I don't believe this. Probably your email did not have the last paragraph which is contained in the link downunder..
If music be the food of love, play on;
Give me excess of it ..(William Shakespeare in Twelfth Night)
Well, I would say the story is most likely fiction. Too many elements in it that do not support it actually being a factual account. Some of the use of terminology would not be consistent with the writer actually being a music teacher, for example. I liked the story, though it is obviously a bit of a "tear-jerker".
But.. We can consider that just maybe the point of the writing was not to inform the reader of facts, but to convey an idea, perhaps? Then the intent would not be so much to mislead as to perhaps inspire or to get musicians to think a bit.
Aesop's fables, for example, are not true in the literal sense. But they convey ideas about how one might think and act, and what results might come of those actions or how one may be thought of by others.
I can't know what the writer intended as a message for certain, only what meaning I can draw from the story myself.
Examining the points of the story, "Robby" obviously did not get a lot of sincere encouragement from the teacher. He did do at least his basic work, but his progress was not what might be called "gifted" (and his playing tended to make his teacher cringe). The story emphasizes that he had economic disadvantages, and this does not seem to be a story about some great antique instrument that made the difference. He only played well at the recital after not showing up for lessons for several weeks, I think we can safely assume that this is not a story about the difference that the dedication of a great teacher can make.
Since he only played well at the recital, and his stated reason for having to play was so his recently deceased mother could hear him seems to be the key point to me. Sidestepping for a moment the issues of whether the deceased can hear anyone play or whether death removes disabilities like deafness, it is a lovely enough notion.
As Suresh mentioned, this sort of "success story" is far more likely in a movie or something than it is in real life. I would agree. But that doesn't make it any worse than many holiday stories or "chicken soup for the ____ soul" type stories.
It is certainly not impossible to play for others, or play for the memory of people we cared about who are gone now. I mean, haven't you ever played to try and cheer someone who wasn't feeling well? Don't you play to entertain or at least amuse family and friends?
Music is a form of communication, a way we can convey feelings that may be hard to put into words. A way to share joys, sorrows.. I do have to remind myself sometimes that it is not enough to make no mistakes when playing. When I play, I should be saying something. It should carry an emotion or idea or .. something.
I can't think that it is uncommon to play in memory of family, friends, teachers, and etc who are no longer in this world. I do that. Some of the songs I play are in my repertoire only because they remind me of someone I have lost over the years or sometimes a song or piece that I think they would have enjoyed. And while I play those, I do let myself believe that perhaps they can hear it in some way, somehow.
Anyway, from what I gather, Pierre didn't put the story up for the purposes of determining it's factual validity. I would agree, it is a great little story.
Did anyone else have to pick up their instrument and play a bit after reading it? I did. Factual or not, it can still inspire.
"This young wine may have a lot of tannins now, but in 5 or 10 years it is going to be spectacular, despite the fact that right now it tastes like crude oil. You know this is how it is supposed to taste at this stage of development." ~ Itzhak Perlman