Being disabled puts a lot of limits in one’s life simply because activities that are available for people who are whole and healthy are simply not possible or would be very difficult to pull off.
Of course, there are some activities that disabled people can adapt to with much dedication and effort, such as someone having no arms being able to play the guitar using their feet.
But most people agree that a disabled musician won’t go far if they tried to make it into a profession.
However, 30-year-old Nicholas McCarthy, from Tadworth, Surrey, would disagree with those people.
Meet the world’s only one handed professional pianist below.
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Video credit: Rumble
Not that there were any doubters because one music school even told him he was wasting his time. However, he persisted and is the only one-handed pianist to have graduated from the Royal College of Music. Now, Nicholas goes around the world performing.
He hopes that his example inspires those in a similar position and convinces them that enough spirit and dedication can make them overcome the odds and achieve their dreams.
Nicholas said: “I was always drawn to the piano, even in primary school when we had assembly the piano was the most attractive part to me.
“Being told I could never be a pianist was crushing, it was as if I had been told that through no fault of my own, I could never have the career I dreamed of!
“I was always creative, and I was always drawn to anything that I could make – so much so that in my youth I first wanted to be a chef.
“I don’t think it mattered what it was, as long as it involved putting ingredients in any format together to make something new.
“Knowing what I wanted to do when I was young helped massively because I had that sense of teenage invincibility so I couldn’t see any limitations in myself.
“If I had been older I probably would of let myself believe that I could not play the piano and maybe never would have tried.
“I had to trust my instincts and it had paid off so much, people don’t look at me and see the missing arm anymore.
“I think when I started, the attraction was that I had one arm, but after they hear me it’s the music that stays with them if they closed their eyes they usually would have no idea I only had one arm.
“I’ve always been really determined, riding a bike, cooking, drawing, whatever it was I was interested in it.”
Nicholas’ condition has always elicited questions from other people ever since he was a child but he attributes this more to curiosity rather than being singled out.
He said: “I would not say I was bullied because I think bullying is systematic, but I have had my fair share of names like anyone else growing up.
“I have always been very lucky with being a bit witty, I have a quick tongue so I was always good at answering back and I think that really helped.
“I would be a liar if I said it was not hurtful, but thankfully they were well spaced out and isolated.”
Nicholas defied all expectations, even those of his previous teachers when he became the first person with one arm to graduate from the Royal College of Music in 2012.
“When I was 14 I had that Eureka moment when a friend played a piece of Beethoven in assembly, suddenly everything made sense to me and I thought this is what I want to do.
“When people told me I would never be able to become a pianist I couldn’t accept it, being told you can’t follow your passion because of something out of your control does not make sense to me.
“It meant so much to be to graduate from the Royal College of Music, who were so supportive, and to be the first pianist with one arm to graduate from there in over 130 years was exciting for me!”
Nicholas started playing the piano when he was 14. He has already performed in China, Japan, South Korea, Kazakhstan, the US, and Europe and even played alongside Coldplay for the closing ceremony of the 2012 Paralympic games.
Nicholas said: “I would love to see other people like myself get into music if it’s what they love, I don’t like the idea that anyone can be told not to do what they love before even being given the chance to try.
“I think now it’s about building a legacy and leaving a mark on the industry I have so much passion for.”
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