I love classical music and started playing piano aged 5, till the age of 12 when I decided that riding my pony and enjoying the outdoors sailing and windsurfing were more fun than stepping up my game in music theory and practice. Wild spirit growing up on a beautiful French island …
My beloved grand-father, who is now 85 and has been playing piano since he is 5 years old, had warned me I would probably regret stopping. And he himself was nostalgic of our “4-hands” practice times. I of course later regretted, and rekindled with my music practice by learning classical guitar, but time is of the essence and other hobbies or endeavors often take over.
However, my love for classical music has remained constant.
My discovery of Nicholas McCarthy
Photo credit: Wikipedia page of Nicholas McCarthy
I recently discovered, through a Tim Ferriss Show interview, an amazing and inspiring young British pianist, Nicholas McCarthy.
Born without a right hand, he only started to play the piano at the age of 14. He was told he would never succeed as a concert pianist.
Of this experience, he said: “It was soul crushing because that’s all I wanted to do – I could feel it would be an uphill struggle, but it made me more determined, I’m quite a stubborn character”
Fortunately, the doubters were wrong. His graduation from the prestigious Royal College of Music in London in 2012 appeared in press around the world, as he became the only one-handed pianist to graduate from the Royal College of Music in its 130-year history.
Nicholas has now performed greatly throughout the world, including the U.K., U.S., South Africa, South Korea, Japan, Malta, and Kazakhstan. He has also played alongside Coldplay and given a rendition of the Paralympic Anthem in front of an audience of 86,000 people and half a billion worldwide viewers.
One of my favorite quotes from Nicholas McCarthy: “I don’t really want to play scales; I want to play music!” – perhaps this is just what I was thinking at the age of 12 when I decided to stop my piano lessons!
Remarkable and astonishing first album, Solo
His first album, entitled Solo (Warner Music) was released in 2015 and features 17 stunning pieces of left-hand repertoire spanning three centuries and has been released around the world to great acclaim.
Here is the video from the release of the album, highlighting Nicholas’s talent, willpower and stamina.
Tim Ferriss interview of Nicholas Mc Carthy
Photo credit: Paul Marc Mitchell
This is a fantastic interview by the incredible Tim Ferriss (I am a huge huge fan of his podcast, the Tim Ferriss Show and his recent book, Tools of Titans, and highly recommend both of these!!).
I particularly loved Nicholas’s thoughts on playing the long game vs. instant fame.
You can listen to the full audio of the interview via this web link or on iTunes.
Nicholas Mc Carthy Ted Talk “Sole determination”
On September 23, 2013 McCarthy spoke of his experiences at a TED conference held at the Royal Albert Hall. In this TEDx talk he tells his inspirational story of how he overcame skepticism to achieve his dreams.
Nicholas Mc Carthy You Tube channel
Nicholas’s YouTube channel includes great videos and playlists which give you a flavor of the genius he is.
This is a video I particularly love, where Nicholas performs Etude Op.25 no.12 ‘Ocean’ by Chopin, with his left hand alone …