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Jon Weems: Musician Quadriplegic 

I'm 35 years old and have been playing music for most of my life.  As a kid I took piano and guitar lessons.   In the 6th grade I started playing the trumpet in the school band and in high school I played the trumpet and baritone in the symphonic band, snare drum in the marching band, and guitar and bass guitar in the stage band.  After graduating I continued to play guitar and keyboards.  It wasn't until then that I started writing music with a friend of mine who played drums and percussion and was a very good lyricist.   He'd purchased some nice equipment for recording and we wrote several songs, of which I have no copies.  

Unfortunately, in July of 1992 I was injured in a diving accident that left me paralyzed from the neck down.  Now that doesn't mean I was completely paralyzed.  There are many misconceptions about paralysis that I don't want to get into here, but I am a level C6 quadriplegic which means I do have most of the use of my arms, but not my hands and fingers.  

Anyway, I don't really have an incredibly inspirational story to tell regarding my injury.  I have simply found a way to continue to do something that I have enjoyed doing all my life.  That's why I have my page geared more towards the music I'm writing rather than my injury.

Now I know you're wondering how I play music without the use of my fingers.  Well, I have typing sticks that fit over each hand that I use to play my keyboard.  They work well, but allow me to play only one note at a time.  So if you are familiar with sequencers, you know that you can play a one note melody for however many measures and then go back and continue to add on to that part with rhythm parts, counter melodies, etc.  That would be one sequence.  My keyboard sequencer allows for up to 80 sequences which all fit together like a puzzle to make a song.  This process takes a very long time for me but it's a good feeling to listen to a song knowing I wrote, played, sang and recorded every note.   Don't get me wrong, I would prefer coming up with the basic idea for a song and having real musicians help me write and record it, but this will have to do for now.   The biggest problem I have is coming up with lyrics.  I realize I am not a poet by any means. -Jon
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