“…I was born missing my left forearm and hand. When I was a teenager I decided that I was going to teach myself to play the guitar. Learning to play the guitar was a serious challenge for me and required a lot of time and patience. It ended up taking me eight years to come up with my current method of playing which is to re-create a cast out of duct tape that secures a guitar pick to the end of my arm each time I play…” -The preceding excerpt is from a speech that I gave at the Superdome, in New Orleans (7/19/2012)
Before I go any further, I’d like to say that I am very pleased to be a guest writer on the “Don’t Hide It, Flaunt It” blog – thank you for having me! Last week, I was invited by the ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church of America) National Youth Gathering planning committee to share my story about my hand difference, my music, and my faith with 34,000 youth from all over the country in one of the most historic cities, and venues, in the world. It was an awesome privilege to be a part of such a beautiful and, in my mind, monumental event. It was a tremendous honor and a proud achievement in my professional life. It’s the road to the Superdome that I’d like to tell you about, today, and that started 26 years ago. I came from humble origins. When I was born my parents were completely surprised to learn of my hand difference as it had not been revealed in pre natal visits to the doctor or in an ultrasound. Early on, my family instilled courage and perseverance in me and pushed me to always do my best in all things. I was enrolled in athletics, sang in choirs, and played trumpet in the school band. My early motivations in music were simply to be able to write and play my own songs, but the challenges of playing a (traditionally) “two-handed instrument” and my philanthropic intentions in my songwriting, have opened my life up to a much more meaningful pursuit. I am very pleased to be working with several non-profit and charitable organizations that are of great importance to me and celebrate the very ideals that I work for every day in my own life. It may sound strange, but I have found everyday challenges with friends, the art of business, and the efforts that go into a successful marriage and family life to be the true challenges that occupy my mind most days. It is very seldom that I think to myself “Now, how in the world am I going to do this with one arm?” Fortunately, I can count those instances on one hand. The attitude that I have expressed throughout this post, my family, the charitable work I am involved in, my faith, and the music that I create have all helped me get to where I am today. I encourage you to listen for a calling in your own life and to pursue it with all of your might. I’d like to leave you with some music. This is a video of my band and me (that’s my wife, Lesleigh, on piano and my friend, Brian, on the drums), and this song is called “Lord Knows We’ve Got Time.”
Thank you for reading my flaunt. Cheers!
If you have any questions or comments, friend me on Facebook or send me an email through my website www.tonymemmel.com.