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Teen Pianist Avoids Sports to Protect His Hands

Pianist Sejoon Park moved to Virginia from South Korea in 2001 to pursue his goal of becoming a musician.

"Before I moved here, I was living in Busan and studying music in Seoul, so whenever I had a lesson, I would have to take an airplane back and forth, and it would take me all day," he says. "Then one day my aunt called and suggested I come to America."

When Sejoon arrived in the U.S. he didn't speak a word of English, but he threw himself into learning the language, and these days he speaks fluently.

Sejoon goes to a public school where most of his peers don't know much about his life as a pianist.

"I'm like Spiderman," he says. "At school I don't talk much about piano, but then I go home and wear my mask and play my Beethoven."

Most of Sejoon's friends at school are into sports, but Sejoon's a bit leery of playing team sports because he doesn't want to hurt his hands.

"Back in second grade, I broke my arm and couldn't play piano for around six months," he explains.

He stays in shape by running two to three miles every day.

"A lot of musicians I know sit at home and practice all the time, but I think it's important to exercise," he says. "I like to keep my body and mind in good shape."

He performs Sergei Rachmaninoff's Etudes Tableaux Op. 39, No. 9.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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