"At the age of 10, I decided that I wanted to learn to play the piano, but I knew it would take me a little more work to learn," says Simmons. "I knew most people had 10 fingers, I knew I had four, but I was pretty sure I could do it."
The Warren, Ohio, teenager, was born with a genetic disorder called ectrodactyly. He has three fingers on his right hand and a finger on the left. He was also diagnosed with tibial hemimelia, a rare congenital abnormality of the lower limb.
At the age of 18 months, her legs were amputated below the knee. None of these things prevented Simmons from following his passions.
Without any formal training, Simmons learned to listen to the piano. He practiced and practiced, finding a way to reach the four-fingered keys while mastering the pedal with his prostheses.
Simmons knew that he should develop his own style of play.
"I could not rely on the technique of someone who has 10 fingers, it would not work," he says. "That's why I had trouble taking piano lessons, it's very complicated for someone who has learned to play with 10 fingers to adjust and who teaches me with only four. "
Simmons is also an experienced trombonist and is a member of several Warren G. Harding High School bands, including jazz bands and brass bands.
Band director Reid Young said Simmons' learning process had been a little different from the start.
"He came to us playing the piano while listening to other musicians and listening to melodies and harmonies in the ear," says Young. "We worked hard with him from the beginning, he was very talented, but we wanted him to be able to read music and play – and do both as well."
Now aged 18, not only has he learned to play and read music, but he has also begun to compose.
"His talent really helps raise the bar for the rest of the group," said Young. "He plays the role of leader in the group and is an example of what other students can work, whether it's the solos he's playing or playing the first trombone on an orchestra's chair." 39; harmony. "
His mother, Tamara Simmons, is not surprised by the achievements of Darrius. She knows how he can be focused and determined.
"You can not tell him that he can not do anything – he does not know the word" can not. "He will not accept that – he's just a hell of a boy."
An inspiring note
He put himself on social media. Videos of him playing the piano had an impact, especially with the famous South Korean pianist Yiruma. He invited Simmons to perform on stage at Carnegie Hall in 2016.
For the most part, Simmons eliminates almost all of his birth defects. He navigates in life like any other dreamed teenager.
He plans to pursue a career in music after high school and hopes to motivate others.
"As a nurse, I love taking care of people, and my son does the same thing in his own way.I am proud of that," said his mother. "And it makes me happy to be able, through something that he likes to do, to touch people's lives in a positive way."
Darrius Simmons seeks to inspire the world, one listener at a time, to master music and face physical challenges.
"I like being the motivation of someone," he says. "If I play in front of a whole crowd and see a person smile, it's a job well done."