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Nicholas McCarthy Is an Inspiring One-Handed Pianist

By Philip Trapp on Mar 19, 2016 09:34 PM EDT

Briton Nicholas McCarthy is a classically trained concert pianist. He's excelled in the classical music world, and recently signed with Warner Classics.

And he's accomplished all of this despite having only one hand.

McCarthy was born without a right hand. While many in those circumstances wouldn't consider a career in music, McCarthy instead charged ahead in his studies. After attending the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, he was accepted into the keyboard school of the prestigious Royal College of Music. He graduated in 2012 as the school's first left-hand-only pianist.

After hearing a friend play a Beethoven piece at age 14, nothing could stop McCarthy from mastering the piano. As he explained to Peter Jackson of BBC News, first-time witnesses to his performance are often stunned, amazed at the artist's technical skill:

"For many, the first reaction is astonishment, that wow factor. I've had some people who thought I'd played with a backing track, but it is just me and my left hand."

McCarthy's talent led to him to a deal with Warner Classics, which released his debut album Solo last month. On Public Radio International, the musician described how he doesn't intend to be an inspiration, but doesn't mind if that's what listeners take away:

"People say to me all the time you're such an inspiration, and blah blah blah," he said. "I don't set out to inspire people, but if I do that makes me a very happy man."

McCarthy is certainly not the first high-profile musician with a physical disability -- Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder, Beethoven are just a few examples. But McCarthy's story is a fresh, potent reminder that what may appear an insurmountable challenge to most people need not be a limitation.

What do you think of Nicholas McCarthy's skillful one-handed piano style? Does the musician inspire you to pursue something you previously thought unattainable? Perhaps you, too, can master an instrument or learn a skill you formerly considered futile.

Learn more about the exceptional pianist in the below video, and let us know what you think of his accomplishments in the comments section.

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