Backwards Piano Man
At a small nursing home in St. James, the parking lot is packed. The crowd came to see Dwayne Edwards who is anything but your average piano man. In just a few moments, Dwayne will be flat on his back but he's not going to fall. You see Dwayne is kind of a "lier". Truth be told, he likes to play lying down. This retired insurance agent wasn't always playing the piano backwards with his hands crossed. As a child, he learned how to play on a piece of cardboard, first, corrugation then came syncopation.
"Even my first concert, I played it twice as fast as it was written. And that just kind of became my M.O. I'd play it twice as fast as it was written," Edwards said.
Dwayne is not just fast but fashionable. He likes to keep his hands warm during his warmup.
"And sometimes when gloves won't work, I put on a pair of mittens," he said.
Edwards finds other unusual ways to captivate his audience, such as covering the keyboard with a sheet.
"I tried to play with my toes but my toes are too fat," said Edwards. " I call it trick playing. I don't know that anybody else does that."
"Most people just come in and play but he does his thing with the sheet and I think the residents really enjoy it," said Renee Ridling, Executive Director of the Golden Living Center.
"It was just a challenge, I don't know there was a pair of gloves laying by the piano and I just picked them up," Edwards said. "I don't really know why. I don't know where the sheet came from but it was something different to do. If I can find middle C, then I know where to progress to. "
Dwayne visits the Golden Living Center faithfully and knows the residents, like his music, by heart.
"A lot of people are here who I've known all my life. My 8th grade basketball coach is here," he said.
Dwayne says he doesn't need to see the keys, he can feel them.
"Feel the music. Like when the people started clapping today I think they started feeling the music and somebody followed," Edwards said.
We all face obstacles, some far more difficult than any pair of mittens. To Dwayne, losing your place simply requires changing your perspective. To him, middle C isn't just a note, but a mentality.
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