Teen with 1 hand learns to play guitar thanks to determination (and a bit of duct tape)

Dillon Gazandlare plays the drums, piano, ukulele and now, having made an adaptation out of duct tape to take the place of his missing left arm, he's making progress on his guitar playing too.

Dillon Gazandlare plays multiple instruments, including the drums, piano and ukulele

Dillon Gazandlare was born missing part of his one arm. He's learned to play guitar by crafting his own picking device out of tape and paper. (Submitted by Darlene Gazandlare)

Dillon Gazandlare uses duct tape to help him play his guitar. 

It's an unusual approach, but it's the 16-year-old's creative way of adapting to the fact his left arm is missing below his elbow.

The Wollaston Lake teenager started playing electric guitar at the age of 11, but was struggling to play without being able to hold a pick.

"So I would just use my stump to play, which after about 10 to 20 minutes of playing guitar would really start to hurt, and you could really see that it was getting really red in the one area which I was picking."

Gazandlare had already learned to play the ukulele, piano and drums — so he was determined to continue with his guitar playing.

That led him to a solution this year — he grabbed some strong tape and paper, which he taped to the end of his arm.  

"I keep adding and adding onto it. I made it a little device that straps onto my elbow and ... there's now a pick added to it, so I can pick the guitar," he said, explaining it's his goal to pursue a career in playing music.

Throughout his life, he's figured out ways to adapt to the fact he was born missing part of his one arm.  

"It's very uplifting knowing that I can do this," he said, noting there are some wishes he has that still seem out of reach for now, like driving a motorcycle.

"That kind of pushes me down a bit, but then I remember I can do this, I can find some sort of way to drive a motorcycle, like I did to play guitar."

His mother, Darlene, said he's proved that to others as well.

"When he was born, I was scared [that] anything in the world will be even harder for him because of his disability," she said, adding he learned to crawl, ride a bike, and tie his shoes with one hand — in addition to learning to play multiple instruments.

"Being his mom, he's taught me that if you put your mind to it, there's nothing that you can't do."


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