He rubbed his shaking hands. He had been through so much already, and the uncertainty was thick as to whether or not this next attempt would work.
Each previous failure was like a stab in his old heart, and he wasn’t sure how much more he could take. He sat down, raised his hands, and held his breath – ready for one final try.
João Carlos Martins started life as an astounding musical prodigy filled with international accolades.
But it wasn’t the famous orchestras or large crowds that he loved the most. It was the way the music moved through his body and touched his soul. However, one innocent accident would be the start of a painful string of events that would affect his entire future.
Martins sat at his untouched piano and thought back on the fateful soccer game.
He remembered the rush of energy as he tried to make a goal. Suddenly there was a sharp pain in his arm … then no feeling at all. The result was nerve damage. It felt like the end of the world. If only he had known what awaited him in Bulgaria.
Next was a tragic mugging where he was struck in the head with a pipe.
He remembered the freezing cold asphalt and the deep clutch of fear that he might not make it. All he wanted was to live again and hear the sound of music again. But life was cruel and hand one more thing to put in his way.
The world-renowned musician pulled at another horrible memory – one in the doctor’s office.
He thought back on the day he was told about his degenerative brain disease. He had battled through so much already and persevered, but this was the final nail in his musical coffin. Life and its cruel counterpart, fate, had destroyed his hands.
Even the slightest press of a piano key was agony.
He used to be able to feel the sorrow of Schubert and acrobats of Beethoven through his hands. He was considered the top interpreter of Bach. But now it was just cold emptiness in the center of his heart. There was only one thing left he could hold on to.
His fame and talent persisted through conducting. However, with each wave of the baton, he secretly wished he could be sitting at that piano instead.
To make things worse, people across the world offered him various gadgets to try and help him play again – but nothing worked. Then, Ubiratã Bizarro Costa contacted him with a unique solution.
Costa was a gifted innovator with a promising idea that revolved around a special kind of glove.
It had been over 20 years, but Martins felt a twinge of hope. They went through several prototypes. And after a few months, Costa delivered the final product to Martin’s house.
The old musician stared at the keys, thinking back on everything that had brought him to this moment – the good and the bad.
He slipped on the gloves, hesitant to feel any kind of excitement – there had been so many disappointments so far. He set his fingers on the cool ivory and dared to press down.
In the past, he had only been able to play with his thumbs.
But now, the gloves let his fingers pop back up without any pain, so he was able to press down on the next note with relative ease. The music streamed out like a long-held breath. It was slow and rusty, but the beauty was still there. Then, a new emotion appeared.
It was joy and relief all rolled into one and it brought tears to his eyes.
The dark, empty hole in his chest slowly filled back up with ethereal notes of Bach. The music rose and he could feel it in every part of his body. Everyone watching started to cry along with him. But what exactly were the gloves that brought out this miracle?
Costa had fitted Martins with special bionic gloves.
They “bump” his fingers back up after he depresses a key. This lets him regain the dexterity that had been gone for over 20 years. Martins said it had taken some time to get used to them, but it was still astounding. There were two more facets left to this marvel.
Martins said, after being so long away from the piano, that he has fallen to the speed of an 8-year-old.
It’s especially frustrating when he wants to play harder for faster pieces, but he isn’t at that level just yet. Carlos also surprised him with one more “trick” the gloves can do.
Martins can adjust the gloves settings to fit whatever style of music he wants to play.
After over 100 failed products he had been given over the years, one finally worked. The composer has started streaming his playing for the world. He also wants to share one final personal thought.
Sitting at his piano, the emotions clear on his face, he said, “It makes me believe in a higher power.”
A lifetime of pain had restricted the old prodigy. But with the help of a friend and modern technology, he was finally whole again. Life is brighter and the music is sweeter.