Blind KU piano performance major relies on memory and Braille to play piano

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LAWRENCE, Kan. -- University of Kansas sophomore piano performance major, Luther Fuller doesn't read music like most students, but he doesn't exactly play by ear either.

Instead he relies on memory and Braille to bring his music to life.

"I memorize it as I go," Fuller said. "I learn a few measures of right hand, then get the left hand for that. By the time I finished learning all the notes, I also have it memorized."

Fuller has Retinoschis. It's a genetic disorder that caused him to lose most of his vision at a young age.

"I have a tiny bit of light perception in my left eye. I have no usable vision. So pretty much my whole life, I have no memory of sight," Fuller said.

But Fuller said he doesn't need his sight when he sits down to tickle the ivories. His professor says his talent is amazing.

"He has to just memorize the music right away. I think that's an extraordinary gift and something that's very special," Michael Kirkendoll said.

Fuller said he finds freedom through his music. It's been that way as long as he can remember.

"I needed help with a lot of things. so I liked being able to improvise on that toy piano at first. Then this spinet that we got, being able to improvise on there and do it unassisted, it brought me joy," Fuller said.

Fuller relies on that freedom to get him where he wants to go.

"I think that people, when they first see Luther play or talk to Luther, the first thing that strikes them is that he's a blind pianist," Kirkendoll said. "I think of him first as a pianist, and then he also just happens to be blind,"

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