The Beginning

A group of runners at a starting line.

Well, here we are! The beginning of what is bound to be one wild journey. I say “we” because as I’ve prepared to launch this project, I have been so touched at how many people have stepped up to help in some way. And of course, that includes you, who is reading this. Whether you’re reading these words the day I post them or you’ve come across me in the middle of my journey, thank you for your interest and support!

What This Is

Some people find fulfillment in accomplishing a major challenge such as a marathon or other goal that requires such dedication and commitment. Often, a decision to participate in such a challenge is a means by which someone can prove to themselves that they can overcome what they set their mind to. Though the challenge may seem physical on the surface, it (and its rewards) are certain to be anything but merely physical.

My name is Hector, and I’m a totally blind musician. My blindness was caused by bilateral retinoblastoma, a rare form of eye cancer that primarily affects infants. I was first diagnosed at eleven months old, and in a way I was lucky to remember little to nothing of my treatment. Despite this, my diagnosis remains a constant demon that will stay with me for life, with survivors of my type of cancer being at significant risk of developing certain secondary cancers throughout the rest of their lives.

My diagnosis and its related long-term effects have made life extremely difficult at times, and it was during one such time that this project came to life. I struggle to this day with issues from my diagnosis and treatment that make it unlikely that I’ll complete anything that’s physically rigorous for the time being. I haven’t ruled it out, and I will continue to work toward bettering myself to hopefully reach that point some day, but for now I’ve set my sights on a goal that’s a little more realistic, but still challenging.

This period in my life began to turn around when I wrote out a bucket list of goals and experiences I believed would help me out of my situation, and at the very top of that list went the item that kicked all this off: memorize and perform Johann Sebastian Bach’s Well Tempered Clavier in its entirety. This iconic book of classical keyboard literature spans two volumes of 48 pieces each, which make up approximately four hours of music in total. A musical marathon, if you will.

Each book is broken down into pairs of pieces, one prelude and one fugue, with 24 pairs per book. Each book contains a pair of pieces, one prelude and one fugue, in each of the major and minor keys. I plan to film and share each pair as I learn it, leading up to perform the work as a whole. Along the way, I hope to share my experiences with the music and my connection to certain pieces and why they are significant to me, in hopes that through my story I can make this music more accessible to those who may not immediately connect to music that is now nearly 300 years old. In between those posts, I hope to share some of my experiences as a disabled musician and music professional trying to make it in the L.A. music scene, and go beyond the “inspirational” facade that is what seems to capture attention the most. (If you think it’s impressive that I can put one foot in front of another or that I can pour myself a glass of water, wait till you hear about the time I traveled away from home on my own to an unfamiliar area and got lost near some train tracks, just as I heard a train coming!)

As I wrap up this post, I wanted to share a few words on the first pair of pieces, the Prelude and Fugue in C. The prelude is an extremely well-known piece, which is often one of the first pieces every knew classical pianist learns. It’s simplicity with it’s constant rhythm stretched across each arpeggiated chord gives it an openness that to me feels like a blank canvas just waiting to be filled. The rest of the book does exactly that, adding the color of each new key. The fugue that follows feels like such a perfect introduction for such a monumental work. It’s melody feels almost like a trumpet call, heralding the arrival of the music that has just begun.

I hope you enjoy the video which is included below, and thank you for joining me on this journey!

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