Halifax teen with limited use of left hand awarded major music scholarship
Blues is one of his favourite genres, but a Halifax teen born with half of his body partially paralyzed is an upbeat and inspirational pianist.
John Main was born with polymicrogyria, a condition characterized by the abnormal development of the brain. Symptoms include seizures that can result in a learning disability – something Main struggles with. He also only has the use of one finger on his left hand.
"It's a condition where the brain doesn't develop fully on one side, or on both sides," said Main's father, Coady Marsh.
But despite the challenges he faces, Main has managed to master tunes well beyond his age. And this September, the 18-year-old will be studying music therapy at Acadia University after being awarded a major scholarship.
"(He is) sort of a white, middle-class kid channeling B.B. King or Ray Charles," said Main's music teacher, Robyn Traill.
When Main was younger, however, he wasn't expected to attend university.
Doctors warned his parents their son may not live beyond his third birthday. His father also initially discouraged Main from studying the piano.
"In my great wisdom, I kept trying to steer him toward things that would be more suitable for a person with one good hand -- you know, like a trumpet, a harmonica," Marsh said.
But Main's talent and tenacity eventually convinced his father he was a natural-born pianist.
And some strangers have also taken note -- but not without asking about his physical limitation. "I've had people come right up to me and just flat-out ask me, 'What's wrong with your left side?" Main said.
In terms of what connects the young musician to the blues genre, Main said the music speaks to him personally.
"It's very true to human experiences and human emotions."
With a report from CTV News' Todd Battis