The pianist with inch-long fingers
Concert pianist and buskers' music man Richard Healey was born
with fingers only an inch long, but you would not know it to hear
Healey is a World Buskers Festival first-timer, playing the
piano for Lili la Scala and cabaret act Dusty Limits.
While he likes to tell people his fingers were chopped off by
slammed piano lid, he was actually born with a gene which prevented
his fingers from growing past the first knuckle.
The gene is carried on his mother's side, with his siblings also
carrying the condition.
Despite this, his grandmother taught him to play piano at age
six, and it's led to a 32-year career.
''It wasn't a conscious thing,'' Healey said.
''I make quite a bit of my living with the piano, but it wasn't
a torch to conquer the world with or anything.''
Healey may downplay the level of skill it takes to play with
just two thumbs and shortened fingers, but he has become extremely
adept at reading music, and adapting it to suit his hands.
It is tricky for his hands to spread the full length of some
chords, but to the untrained ear, it's tough to tell the
Healey's first festival this year is a result of his pairing
with performer and festival regular Felicity Wills, aka Lili la
He and Wills have been performing together for about two years,
but did not come to the last festival as Wills was pregnant. Healey
ntsGwas not actively seeking out la Scala, but ntewas introduced
to her through a mutual friend.
''It's the nature of the self-employed to look for variety,''
The pair are performing a cabaret act this year - a bit of a
change from the burlesque Christchurch is used to seeing from
See the video here - The pianist with inch-long
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