Piano Guys’ Jon Schmidt says ‘really tough year’ brought moments of joy; daughter Annie buried year ago

BOUNTIFUL, Utah, Nov. 19, 2017 (Gephardt Daily) — Piano Guys’ musician Jon Schmidt has released a video to talk about his group’s new piece, “Ode to Joy to the World.” But his own moments of joy come after a year marked by tragedy.

It was just 13 months ago that his daughter, Annie, went missing while hiking in the Columbia River Gorge. The search lasted about a month, and involved hundreds of hikers, buoyed by tens of thousands of well wishers from around the world, offering support through social media.

The body of the 21-year-old was found just over a year ago, in heavy brush, about 200 feet down from the cliff she fell from.

“Our family went through a really tough year, and so many of you guys were out there praying for us,” Jon Schmidt said on the video he posted on Facebook about the group’s new recording and the tour, which plays Salt Lake City on Dec. 8.

The video did not mention Schmidt’s daughter by name.

“And one of the ways we felt the strength of your prayers was in a lot of inspiration for the Christmas video,” he said. ” … Every time I hear this track, I’m just so thankful.”

In the hard year, there were moments of happiness sparked by that love and support, Schmidt said.

“I have to say, one of the most surprising things about last year was that there were elements of joy,” he said in the video. “And you would never guess that when you go through hard times, and we definitely, definitely felt that.”

Annie Schmidt was laid to rest on Nov. 21 of last year at a chapel of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Bountiful, near her home. Speakers remembered her as a young woman wise beyond her years.

At the service, her mother read an excerpt from what Annie had called her manifesto, left to guide her younger twin brothers as they entered high school so they would not become “jerks,” her mother explained, laughing.

A few days later, mom Michelle Schmidt shared the full manifesto — Annie’s advice on how to live a good and impactful life.

Here it is, one more time:


Dear Jonny and Chris,

As you enter high school everyone around you is going to be very VERY excited. The sophomores are excited about finally entering high school, fulfilling their dream of becoming someone new, changing how things used to be, becoming extremely popular, or (like for you), just having as much fun as possible! The Juniors will be excited that you are coming in (even though they won’t admit it) so that they aren’t on the bottom anymore. They will think “now I am officially part of this school and can act like I run the place a little bit more.”

Please, dear Jonny and Chris, don’t let the fact that you are sophomores and that some people will want to treat you badly or exclude you, just because that is how they were treated as sophomores, keep you from SHINING your light and being as involved in the school with every (and any) crowd or group you desire and as much as possible!

As for the Seniors, they will be pumped out of their minds to become “the Bountiful kids” in charge, as seen in the rest of the school’s and community’s minds! They want to be followed. They want to be seen as much as possible! On the front row of EVERYTHING. They want to seem like they are calm, collected, and don’t really care about ANY of that “high school stuff”… BUT THEY DO. Every single one of them. Like the sophomores, they want to become as popular as possible and extend their influence far and wide! Well, the thing is, that they usually (pretty much always) succeed! Their influence changes and affects the entire school, even the entire community for that whole year. But THEN, guess what? It ENDS.

You are lost in a goal to, “be cool,” or “be popular.” And before you even have time to wake up and realize it, you have been pursuing a goal that has no valuable reward… for 3 years (that is longer than a mission), and you have dedicated that time to sheer selfishness. And before you know it, IT’S ALL OVER. You feel confused, upset, torn, and uneasy as you watch the Juniors quickly and easily fill your spot as “KINGS AND QUEENS.” You watch them go on so easily and readily without you…willingly letting go of your presence, BECAUSE THEY HAVE THEIR OWN SENIOR YEAR to worry about now! And everyone is way too busy worrying about themselves.

Does that sound appealing? If it does, then by all means go for it! Go have that same high school experience! It will have ups and downs. But mostly just “eh’s” and “blah” days. Sure you will do some exciting things and make some crazy memories…but once you are gone, you are truly gone.

However, if that DOESN’T sound fulfilling, meaningful, worthy of 3 years of your mortal test and chance to serve and share the blessings you’ve BEEN GIVEN and to become like God…well then…maybe you might want to listen…maybe even take to heart and act upon what I am about to say.

IF you want to TRULY be remembered and have a LASTING influence and effect on your school and community…STRIVE TO ALWAYS BE MOTIVATED BY LOVE. Desire to serve, because you care about your eternal brothers and sisters all around you (and not to mention potential eternal best friends!) The best kind of leader is motivated by charity, the pure love of Christ…and something I KNOW to be true is that CHARITY NEVER FAILETH! 

In other words: If you sit by lonely people at lunch, because you care about them, YOU WILL BE HAPPY.

IF you invite people who are different, the same, insecure, mediocre, stand out, or blend in, to join your friend circle (in class, at events, etc.) and if they can feel that care and charity from you…and when you SEE the AFFECT of them suddenly grasping the fact that you are doing this, not for attention, to be popular, good, whatever, BUT FOR THEM…YOU WILL BE HAPPY.

IF you ask a girl on a date, who may not be the most popular or pretty, (but she had a wise and inspiring comment in seminary), because you want her to know that she is also of much worth and that you admire and encourage her strenuous efforts to do what is right…seeing and feeling the appreciation in her eyes and from her heart…THIS WILL MAKE YOU HAPPY.

Taking ONE SONG during each school dance to dance with someone outside your group of friends (choose a different group and truly dance with them). DO IT FOR THEM, not to show off your dance moves, have them show you their best moves! Compliment them! Build them up! …..They will feel cared for, special, important, and maybe even cool…You will see it in their eyes and feel it from their heart and…YOU WILL FEEL HAPPY. Soooo here’s the thing. I could go on and on, but it would be so cool if you guys could absorb the idea of LEADING WITH CHARITY and just make it your own!! Keep the spirit with you and do ANY and EVERY random thing HE prompts you to do and I promise that you will make a mark for good, not only in the heart of your school, but upon EACH and EVERY human heart you take even just 5 minutes to care for and to encounter EVERYDAY. I promise that this mark will be lasting. In the name of our Savior Jesus Christ, Amen.


  1. The fact I could help her brother when he was going true this is something I’ll always remember just how brave he was and how he actually trusted me enough to talk to me when he was feeling low and didn’t wanna talk to his companion at the time


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