I’m a Musician Who Can’t Play Music (‘The Washington Post’)

“History sparkles with stories of musicians overcoming illness, impairment, and adversity,” writes Dartmouth’s William Cheng in a Washington Post opinion piece. “Beethoven composed his ‘Ninth Symphony’ while deaf. Ray Charles performed blind. Itzhak Perlman plays through polio. Watch American Idol this season and you’ll hear tear-jerking tales of contestants beating herculean odds.”

But sometimes suffering doesn’t produce better art, writes Cheng, an assistant professor of music. Sometimes suffering prevents it from happening.

He writes about his own experience of trying to continue playing music despite suffering from a rare condition that can make it difficult even to get out of bed in the morning, “much less sleep or eat,” he writes. Or play the piano.

“Not everyone gets to be a hero,” Cheng writes. “Some people barely manage to hold on. So from time to time, let’s tell certain illness and disability stories as they are—even if they don’t come with the superhuman protagonists or stirring soundtracks we so crave.”

Read the full opinion piece, published 1/20/16 by The Washington Post.