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Blind pianist brings music to the Misericordia
Published Monday, February 18, 2019 12:33PM MST
Last Updated Wednesday, February 20, 2019 9:35AM MST
Four days a week, piano music wafts through the halls of the Misericordia Community Hospital. Often, people stop to listen or sing along. Sometimes, visitors dance.
The player behind the notes is a regular.
“He’s affectionately known as the Piano Man,” said volunteer Jim O’Neill. “Not just here, but everywhere he goes.”
The man’s real name is Juston Whaling.
The 45-year-old was born totally blind and learned to play by ear from two very special women: his grandmother, and a piano teacher by the name of Mrs. Morgan.
“I just go totally by sound of the chord,” Whaling said, tilting his head and pressing several keys. “G, C, D seventh,” he listed off. “E minor, D minor, C minor, C, open C…”
Whaling knows over 200 songs, which he rotates through during the two-hour long Misericordia visits.
“He can play anything, if you ask. If it’s gospel music, or The Beatles, it doesn’t really matter,” O’Neill told CTV News.
“People come to the hospital and sometimes it’s not always for a good reason,” he said. “And then they come down, and they listen to this, and they dance and sing along, and it’s just wonderful to watch the joy Juston brings to so many people.”
When asked why he spends so much time playing piano at the Misericordia, Whaling responds simply: “For volunteerism. For God’s people. God will grant you peace if you do volunteerism, so my grandma told me once.”
But the musician does it for himself, too.
“I feel like a star, right here, on this piano. This beautiful, wonderful piano.”
With files from Dan Grummett