A Special Invention Helped Reunite an 80-Year-Old Injured Musician with Piano After 20 Years
João Carlos Martins, the 80-year-old Brazilian classical pianist, had lost the ability to play for almost 20 years due to a series of tragic events in his life. But everything changed thanks to a pair of special bionic gloves that allowed the maestro to finally play his beloved piano again.
We at Bright Side were moved by this pianist’s story and want to share it with you. And at the end of the article, you can meet Sebastian Bach in person!
João Carlos Martins isn’t just any pianist.
However, fate wasn’t kind to João. At 24 years old, he suffered an accident that caused nerve damage to his arm, atrophying 3 of his fingers. But the worst would come when he was 55: during a robbery on one of his tours, João was struck in the head with an iron pipe, leaving him with brain injuries that completely paralyzed his arm.
He said that after he lost his hands, it felt as if there was a corpse inside his chest.
João went through 24 surgeries, but nothing could help his hands, forcing him to abandon the piano, seemingly for good.
It still couldn’t keep him away from music.
Atrophied fingers and paralyzed hands weren’t enough to make him give up on his musical career. João became a conductor in 2003, at 63 years old. He couldn’t turn the pages in the score or even swing the baton, so instead, he just committed every score to memory, note by note — almost 5,000 score pages.
He still occasionally played the piano, but extremely slow, since he could barely use his fingers, playing only one note per second. A tragic downgrade in comparison with 21 notes per second back when he was young.
“Magic” gloves changed everything.
That might have been his life, were it not for an engineer who saw the maestro playing live and decided he would devise something to help him. After a concert, he approached João with the first prototype of a pair of special bionic gloves. He designed them, analyzing videos of João’s performances, and zooming in screenshots of his hands. Yet, they didn’t work.
When the engineer first showed João the gloves, he joked that they were for boxing, not to play the piano.
But neither of them gave up, and after testing out several models, the perfect match was created. The gloves provide the necessary support for each finger and can even “tune” to what he plays. After more than 20 years, João could finally reunite with the instrument he had studied since he was 8.
João is rarely seen without his gloves now.
João knows that he might never recover his speed of the past. But he’s starting over, as though he were an 8-year-old again.
He often posts videos of himself playing with these gloves on his Instagram.
João says, it can take years, but he will keep pushing. He won’t give up.
Bonus: His poodle is named Sebastian — a tribute to Bach, of course.
How do you feel about this pianist’s story? Have you ever wanted to learn piano?