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Man born without elbows defies all odds by learning to play the piano

Pianist Bart Gee. Bart was born with a rare physical disability called Arthrogryposis which means that he has weak muscles and stiff joints.

A man has defied all the odds by becoming an incredible piano player – despite being born without any ELBOWS.

Bart Gee, 34, was born with arthrogryposis, a rare physical disability which weakens muscles and stiffens joints.

Doctors told his parents he would never be able to walk, sit up independently and would have a bleak outlook to life.

But despite being unable to bend his legs, arms or fingers, Bart defied the odds by taking his first steps aged three.

Pianist Bart Gee.

His love of music took off when a teacher strapped sticks to his arms – so he could play glockenspiel.

The budding musician developed a flare for the piano aged five and he his now a beautiful pianist who plays keyboard during his local church services.

Bart, from Chippenham, Wiltshire, said: “I started learning on a glockenspiel.

The teacher would strap the beater against my wrists and I would hit the keys.

“I learnt a few keys. But my piano teacher was playing along in the background felt really inspired and wanted to have a go.

“I remember turning to her at the end and asked if I could copy her – I knew I wanted to play piano. I just really enjoyed it.

“As a kid I would come home and practice every night after dinner.

“We had a piano in the family home and I wanted to play the Church organ like my father.”

Bart Gee pictured as a baby. Bart was born with a rare physical disability called Arthrogryposis which means that he has weak muscles and stiff joints.

Bart’s enthusiasm paved the way for an award aged 8 and passed his grade 5 aged 11.

“I’ve always seen playing the piano as a challenge”, said Bart.

“My favourite thing to play is ‘His Eye Is On The Sparrow’ from Sister Act 2.

“I play most days on my Samsung G8. It depends on my mood because sometimes I can play for almost an hour but other times it can be a few minutes.

“It’s funny when I actually play I think of my hands looking different to what they probably look like.

Bart now plays regularly at his local church in Malmesbury, Wiltshire. He also plays bass guitar and uses an electric drum kit.

Bart also recently completed a Marie Curie 5k swim last year which in five hours and 30 minutes.

But his achievements have also run alongside the struggle of living with arthrogryposis, a disability which affects one in 3000 people.

A young Bart Gee learning to play the piano.

Bart was also born with a 30° bend in his left knee and a 80° in his right knee. He also suffered severe arthritis which eventually had to be operated on.

Growing up Bart found it particularly hard at school as was often bullied.

“School was pretty tough. My parents put me in an ordinary secondary school so I would have as ordinary a school experience as possible which was good, but it had its downsides.

“There was name-calling and the other pupils would spit at me.

“But the worst thing was when the bullies would push me down to the floor knowing I wouldn’t be able to get up without help.

“Outside of school I would struggle with stares I would get in the street.

“Kids would shout ‘why is he walking like a penguin?’. I know they are only kids and don’t know any better but it was still hurtful.

“Growing up I’ve just got used to the stares so it doesn’t bother me as much.

Pianist Bart Gee.

“I’ve defied what doctors thought my life would be – someone who would be wheelchair bound and unable to walk.”

Bart drives a Citroen C4 Grand Picasso to zip around the UK as part of his job as a motivational speaker.

He delivers hour-long talks to schools, organisations and even prisons about physical limitations.

“I enjoy being independent which has been against the odds. For me difficult means possible. Hard means possible. Challenging means possible.”



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