UK's Channel 4 recently launched a reality show titled The Piano. It features amateur pianists who are invited to perform on instruments located at major train stations—but there's a catch. They perform without knowing they are being observed by top pianist Lang Lang and pop singer Mika, or that they've entered a contest to perform at the prestigious Royal Festival Hall. One of the show's most powerful performances was by a blind and neurodivergent 13-year-old girl named Lucy. It left both musicians in awe.
In a video shared on Twitter, the girl sits down at the piano with the help of her teacher Daniel Bath. He later assists her in placing her hands on the keys. He then announces that Lucy will be playing “Chopin's Nocturne 1 in B-flat minor (Op. 9, No. 1).” This surprises Lang Lang, as he knows this is a technically complex melody. Once in place, Lucy starts performing the song effortlessly and precisely, as she bobbles her head from side to side, truly feeling and enjoying the music she is performing. As bewilder grows across Lang Lang's face, a crowd of commuters gathers around the piano.
“It's unbelievable that she can play this piece. How did she study? It's incredible,” the famous pianist says. By then, some of the commuters have taken out their phones to record her, with one even wiping away a tear. When she finishes the piece, her hands draw from the piano. As the woman who accompanied Lucy (presumably her mom) informed the reality show host, Lucy likes the applause, but she doesn't like the sounds of people, so she covers her ears for sensory reasons.
As the cheering fades, the show host greets Lucy, who claps once and goes back to covering her ears. In the meantime, Mika gazes at the screen showing the performance with his mouth open, while the famous pianist exclaims “Oh my God! This is impossible!” Not knowing what to say, Mika points out that the two “opinionated” musicians are “flummoxed and speechless,” finishing his sentence with a smile to mark how moved they were by the young piano player.
Lucy, who has severe autism, has been playing the piano for some years. She was the subject of a short documentary produced by the Amber Trust, a non-profit that provides musical opportunities for blind children. In it, her teacher and the founder of the organization, Adam Ockelford, explains Lucy's relationship to music and how she has learned to play.
It is revealed that Lucy picks up from every song she hears, and tries to play what she remembers, from classical works to blues and jazz, which she loves. With the help of Bath, she perfects each melody. After working it out separately, he presses her fingers down as they perform the melody until they let go.
Recalling the day he met her, Ockelford remembers putting a little keyboard under her hand, which she played “rather mutinously” “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.” “I thought, ‘Here's a girl for whom music really is important, and it could be a way of unlocking her language, her social skills, and above all, her enjoyment of life.”
Watch the performance below.
A blind and neurodivergent 13-year-old girl named Lucy impressed two world-class musicians with her piano performance.
The Piano, presented by @ClaudiaWinkle, starts tonight at 9pm on Channel 4.
— Channel 4 (@Channel4) February 15, 2023
Lucy, who has severe autism, has been playing the piano for some years. To learn more about her story, watch the short documentary below.