Teen Pianist with Four Fingers Defies the Odds

Air Date: 05/15/2018
Source:
NBC Nightly News
Creator:
Lester Holt
Air/Publish Date:
05/15/2018
Event Date:
05/15/2018
Resource Type:
News Report
Copyright:
NBCUniversal Media, LLC.
Copyright Date:
2018
Clip Length:
00:01:52

Seventeen-year-old pianist Darrius Simmons overcomes a birth defect that left him with four fingers by developing his own technique to reach all the keys. His determination leads him to Carnegie Hall in New York City. This video is part of an NBC News series "Inspiring America."

Teen Pianist with Four Fingers Defies the Odds

LESTER HOLT, reporting:

Finally tonight with music there are no limits. And if you don’t believe it, consider the story of the teenager you’re about to meet. His passion for playing the piano has carried him above and beyond what others might consider physical limitations. His story and his music are Inspiring America. Darrius Simmons taught himself how to play the piano at age 10. By 15, he performed at Carnegie Hall. Now 17, Darrius just composed his first song.

DARRIUS SIMMONS: I like to show people that I can do things that you think that I may not be able to do. And I think piano was a great way to show that.

HOLT: Remarkably he’s accomplished all of it with just four fingers. Darrius was born with three on his right hand, one on his left.

SIMMONS: I does like the way the instrument sounds. I liked the way people play it. So I was like I want to be able do that. They got 10 fingers, you know, but I feel like I can make four work.

HOLT: Darrius came up with his own technique for reaching all the keys and learning how to press the pedals with prosthetics. His legs amputated when he was a toddler. While Darrius was at it, he picked up the trombone.

SIMMONS: I don’t ever get discouraged. Even when a part is too hard I just keep practicing till I learn how to play.

HOLT: Darrius’ mom Tamara says he was strong-willed even as a little boy.

TAMARA SIMMONS: The one thing you would hear him say is I can do it myself, I can do it myself. And so I just let him go.

HOLT: Now Darrius has turned that determination to composing. After months of work, he recently debuted his first song on his Facebook page. It stuck a chord, quickly racking up four million views.

SIMMONS: I’m just glad that I inspired people and made somebody’s day. That’s all I really wanted to be able to do. Just share my great music with everybody and just put a smile on people’s faces.

HOLT: You go, Darrius.

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