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My father has always said that I have "hands of a true pianist," probably because they're rather large with fingers so long and thin that I had to resize my class ring with duct tape. Those who know less about my ambitions tend to call them "basketball player hands." Under it all, I am primarily a musician; music has allowed me to express my feelings and ideas in every discipline.

Often when I have a free moment, I find myself looking bemusedly at these hands of mine, and reflecting on the many things they have done. When I was a child, these hands curled themselves around a crayon to scrawl my first letters; they clutched at the handles of a bicycle, refusing to trust my training wheels, and slid, wriggling, into baseball gloves. Later, they would wrap around the body of a saxophone, echoing the first notes of what would soon become a jazz song. These hands once turned pages of church music filled with references to how great God is. They went with me, deep in my coat pockets, as I walked to school early for choir practice.

They graduated to the insides of the white, marching band uniform gloves and learned to march in time with the beat of the percussion cadence. These hands glided across the smooth...

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