Mastering the piano well enough to play at Carnage Hall is a feat beyond belief. Yet, mastering the piano to play at Carnage Hall with only four fingers and two prosthetic legs seems impossible but Darrius Simmons, despite all odds has done just that.
At an early age, this young virtuoso fell in love with piano. He watched others play and wanted to experience the joy of giving beautiful music to others.
“I decided at age 10 that I wanted to learn how to play the piano, but I knew that it was going to take a little bit more work for me to learn,” Simmons says in an interview with CNN. “I knew most people had 10 fingers. I knew I had four, but I was pretty sure I could make it work.” And making it work he did, despite all odds.
The talented young Ohio native, born with a genetic condition called ectrodadctyly, only had three fingers on his right hand and one finger on his left, in addition to being diagnosed with tibial hemimelia, a rare congenital lower-limb anomaly. At 18-months-old, Simmons’ legs were amputated below the knee, causing him to have to rely on prosthetic limbs.
Despite the physical limitations and no formal training, Simmons taught himself to play the piano by ear. “I couldn’t base it on the technique of somebody who has 10 fingers. It just wouldn’t work'” he said in his interview. “That’s why it was hard for me to take piano lessons. It’s very complicated for somebody who has learned how to play with 10 fingers to adjust and teach me with only four.”
In addition to being an accomplished pianist, Simmons is also a trombonist and- a member of his high school’s marching and jazz bands. Just when you thought that it couldn’t get better, 18-year-old is now learning to not only read music but compose it as well! “I am a pianist,” Simmons says with confidence. “I compose some of my own original music. One of my most known compositions is called “Dreams are Forever.”
What are Simmons’ future plans? Well, he plans on pursuing a career in music with the desire to motivate others. “I like to be somebody’s motivation. If I play in front of a whole crowd and I see one person smile, that’s a job well done.” Well, we think that he is unquestionably on the right path!