When Jeff Hufnagle suffered from stroke, he was paralysed on the whole left side of his body. According to Chris Berg, a composer, bassist and longtime friend of Jeff, he was so depressed as he thought that he would never be able to play the piano ever again. Thankfully for Jeff, there was Chris, who said to him, “Well, that’s not true. I could write a concerto for piano right hand.”
That is exactly what Chris did for Jeff. In fact, just yesterday, the Sinclair Community College’s Community Wind Symphony presented the world premiere of three new modern classical works. They include, “Stranger in Paradox,” the first movement of Chris’s three-movement Concerto for Wind Symphony and Piano Right Hand. For this piece, Jeff will be the one playing the piano. This performance of his will be his first publicly since he suffered a nearly fatal stroke in early 2011.
Jeff and Chris are both two Dayton-based musicians, who have been in the jazz scene for years now. They first met on a gig when Chris just moved to Dayton from New York City in 1995. Since then, they have played together on numerous occasions. After Jeff’s stroke, Chris accomplished quite a lot of things. He written for piano left hand and at the same time, set out to create a similar work for both piano and orchestra. Jeff, who has have a long working relationship with Sinclair and Wind Symphony director Kenneth Kohlenberg, suggested Chris to drop the strings and write it instead for that ensemble. The first movement has been rehearsing for two months.
“I was supposed to play a concert and didn’t show up and the guys I was playing with came looking for me. I’d been lying on the floor for a long time, so there was severe brain damage. If I had been lying there much longer, my brain would have stopped sending signals to my heart and lungs and I would’ve died. They got me to Grandview Hospital, which has a fantastic stroke team, and they stopped the damage from spreading,” recounted Jeff.
Previously, Jeff had absolutely zero control over his left side. However, he has learn to deal with it. Although he is still unable to use his left hand, he can still walk with assistance from a cane or a friend. There are times when he feels that he is unable to bend his legs. He realise that it isn’t because his muscles have gone weak from disuse, but rather that his brain is not sending the right signals. “I’ve got to rewire my brain. It’ll be a long time recovering, but I’m not the first person this has happened to. I’ll get there,” he said. For the full story, please read it here.
Awesome Piano believes that if someone suffering from stroke is still capable of playing the piano, then it shouldn’t be a problem for others. Check out our website for the piano lessons that we have to offer.