We don’t have any control over what hand we’ll be dealt in life, but we do have control over what we do with it. This couldn’t be more perfectly exemplified than by the story of one blind 7-year-old boy who taught himself how to play piano and is now an internet-famous prodigy.
Avett Ray Maness was diagnosed with a condition called optic nerve hypoplasia when he was 2 months old, leaving him completely blind in his left eye and with very limited vision in his right eye.
Avett’s mother Sara D. Moore was worried about how the diagnosis would affect her son’s life.
“I remember thinking, ‘How will he get through life?’ ” Moore told The Washington Post. “‘What will his future be?’”
But little Avett didn’t let this disability keep him from his love of the piano, which he’s been playing ever since he was tall enough to reach it.
Moore says the first time she heard her son play, he was just 11 months old.
The proud mom was sitting on the couch when she heard the notes to ‘Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star’ coming from her keyboard across the room. She turned to find little Avett reaching up on his tiptoes, playing the song from memory.
“He had a toy with that tune on it, so I knew that’s where he learned the melody,” Moore said. “I was mesmerized. I called my mom up and said, ‘You won’t believe it! Avett’s playing ‘Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star!’”
Six years later, Avett is mastering far more than nursery tunes.
The 7-year-old piano sensation performs locally in front of hundreds of people and even has his own YouTube channel with more than 60,000 subscribers.
Some of Avett’s most popular renditions include Queen’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody‘ and Bach’s Minuet in G. Not to mention his version of ‘Happy Together‘ by the Turtles which has over 200,000 views on YouTube.
Avett’s piano teacher, Rebecca James who just started helping him fine-tune his skills last September, says his passion for the instrument is unparalleled.
“He likes a good challenge and loves playing music with a more complex structure,” she said. “Sometimes, we just compose or improvise or just jam together.”
Now in first grade, Avett is learning to read braille and walk with a cane while also playing classical music.
“I love performing Bach’s Minuet in G,” he said in a phone interview with The Washington Post. “And at my last piano lesson, I told my teacher that I also want to learn the Minuet in G Minor. I’m not as much into Adele anymore.”
Avett’s mother couldn’t be more proud of her son.
“I had a journey of self-discovery,” she said. “I learned that my self-care is in direct correlation with the success of my children. And with Avett, once I learned about his talent, I knew that it was important to share him with the world.”
Next week, Avett will be one of the headliners for a fundraiser benefiting the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Dayton.