There is so much that a passionate person can do! All the inventions that exist today came from someone that was unrelenting in his or her desire to make a difference. It is no different in the world of music. Despite the fact that learning an instrument has its own challenges and discouragements, there are some who have beaten all odds to become inspirations for others.

Norman Malone

A Sad Beginning

Norman Malone was not born with any health challenges.  In fact, he had a very promising piano future by age 5. It is when he was 10 years old that tragedy struck. Their father attacked him and his two smaller brothers in their home. He hit them over the head with a hammer and then committed suicide. This left them partially paralyzed on their right sides, but alive.

Relentless

But Malone was still passionate about his desire to play the piano. He kept looking for opportunities to continue learning with his left hand, amidst all the discouragement.

upright piano
Image Courtesy of Wikimedia

Or so everyone told him. But Malone refused to accept that verdict, spending years trying to find someone who would teach him to play the instrument with one hand — someone, anyone who knew there was a vast repertoire of piano music written for left hand alone. Via Chicago Tribune

Persistence That Wore Out Resistance

He continued on his journey and his passion caught the attention of the public. His age didn’t limit him and after a long time, things took a drastic change within a year. However, this was after over half a century of continuous practice and determination.

Malone’s story of tragedy, trauma and aspiration became the subject of several Tribune stories starting last year, and that’s when the pianist began receiving invitations to give concerts. Malone accepted several of them, in effect launching his concert career more than 70 years after he originally had hoped. Via Chicago Tribune

A Grand Opportunity

Eventually, he got the opportunity to perform with an orchestra and since his story had become well known, it was a major event. He had worked on this left-hand piano piece and it was finally time to showcase his efforts.

Yet there he was on Sunday afternoon, seated at the 9-foot Steinway grand in the theater of Kingswood Oxford School, looking sharp in his newly bought tuxedo. The 60-plus musicians of the West Hartford Symphony Orchestra awaited conductor Richard Chiarappa’s downbeat, a packed house eager to hear Malone’s rather belated orchestral debut. Via Chicago Tribune

As every good conductor does, Malone got the chance to practice and polish his skills before the event. Despite all that, he still felt anxious before the performance. However, he gathered himself and got ready for the opportunity he had been waiting for.

When he was done, the applause said it all. He had accomplished his dreams, against all odds.

When the orchestra re-entered the fray in the climactic last bars, Malone and his orchestral colleagues were in sync as never before, ending the piece with an exclamatory fortissimo that inspired an instant standing ovation from the crowd.

Then Malone stood and turned toward the orchestra, bowing several times before turning around to acknowledge the cheers in the house, shaking his head and looking as if he were about to weep. Via Chicago Tribune

 

Steinwey and Sons piano
Image Courtesy of Wikimedia

Christopher Taylor

A New Invention

Quite different from Malone’s story, but inspiring all the same, Christopher Taylor has taken his passion to the next level. He took the challenge to come up with an invention that would be the talk now and in future – The Hyperpiano.

The electronic-run instrument allows two grand pianos to be played simultaneously by one musician — with the potential to take piano repertoire in new directions. Taylor invented the concept, wrote the software, manufactured the keys, designed the 60-odd circuit boards and is now exploring just how far his newly patented invention can go. Via Miami Herald

Created over the past five years, this instrument is bound to make a very new twist to piano playing as he explains:

“That adds a new dimension to the counterpoint, which can be interesting for the people sitting out in the audience,” Taylor said. But that’s not all: Using the console’s 176 keys and five specially designed pedals, Taylor can also command octaves or massive chords from the two pianos sitting many feet away from him. Via Miami Herald

This came from another of his inventions:

The idea for the Hyperpiano arose from another complex instrument Taylor has championed, UW-Madison’s double-keyboard Steinway known as a Moor Pianoforte.Via Miami Herald

pianola
Image Courtesy of Wikimedia

His History

Taylor is a well-learned man who has combined his love for music with his skills in science and technology.

Taylor, who has taught piano performance at UW-Madison since 2000, earned a degree in mathematics from Harvard University. Before becoming a professional pianist, he was a bronze medal winner in the 1993 Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, at which he played the “Goldberg Variations” and other works on a standard single-keyboard Steinway.

The musician is also celebrated for his insatiable intellectual curiosity and mental energy, qualities that have been hailed in his concert performances by effusive music critics. Via Miami Herald

Conclusion

These two stories of Norman Malone and Christopher Taylor show that everyone has an opportunity to make history. Whether life has dealt you a “death-blow” or you have that extra wit, you have an opportunity to rise above your circumstances and do something that will make history. What you need is a decisive mind and the passion to become better. Be inspired!

Featured Image: Image Credit

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