( Rose Baley ) Tim Baley, the 2005 divisional gold medal champion of the First International Piano Paralympics Festival, plays for an audience in Chicago..
US Piano Paralympics Artisan Tim Baley Plays His Abilities
APRIL 18, 2006By Allan Shore, HappyNews Citizen JournalistOne might not think that Canton, Ohio would be the place where someone of Tim’s world-class talents would play among the respectful clatter of dinner guests. But to Tim it matters no more than does the fact that he has played before Presidents and the United Nations and in accompaniment with stars like Liberace, Steve Allen and Norma Zimmer on NBC television. Tim Baley is a January 2005 divisional gold medal champion of the First International Piano Paralympics Festival held in Japan, where he singularly represented the United States. Born with what was labeled “a mild mental challenge with Cerebral Palsy” as a result of forceps damage, his prognosis at birth in June 1952 was a life fit for an institution and the unrefined talent, at best, of a true child left fully behind. But Tim had other motivations. He grew with a determination unrecognized on the pages of medical assessments and clinical expectations. Magnetized by the piano that shared his childhood room, an envelop of creativity surrounded and served him well. He used it to get by whatever limitations others might impose. And it provided the motivation to uncover the star-like personality that radiates from within over whichever audience discovers his skills. “Tim is so unique …,” said Tokio Sakoda, President of the Piano Paralympics. He is “a one of a kind pianist in the world, …. His brilliant piano technique and splendid stage performance gave the Japanese audience … a wonderful surprise!” Getting Tim to a life of possibility was hardly easy; it emerged from a bouquet of generosity. Starting with Tim’s father, Gerald (Jerry) Baley (now deceased), who gave up a vocal career to turn his attention to harnessing control of unrepentant arms and hands and fingers that showed no willingness to be led toward mastery, artistic or otherwise. According to Rose Baley, Tim’s mother and biographer, however, it took more than just the drive of his father. Others noticed this young man’s keen ear and command of melodies (even today Tim rarely plays songs the same way twice). Prominent scholars and performers of the past, such as Red Camp, a musician/professor from the 1950s, Frank Scott, an outstanding pianist and arranger with the Lawrence Welk Show, Donald Sewell of Hope International University and Dr. Raymond Foot, a Julliard School of Music graduate, to name a few, turned hours of their lives over to Tim’s talents. And felt the return of talent nurtured into refinement—a stark contrast to other young people with restrictions left to find their own way to life’s magic. Creative energies, however, are seldom confined even by the restrictions of the body or the notes of music. In 1986, after receiving a special Christmas gift, Tim crafted a hand-painted thank you card. Those around him were astounded that he had the ability to move so easily from one venture to another. With a bit more coaxing, Tim began to balance his work on music to an exploration of paintings that sing of their own geometric visions of what lies in the mind of a person released from social confinements.
Tim’s collection of paints and drawings now numbers over 1,000, reflecting his view of life and of the experiences made possible by, to say the least, confidence. “Which is most important, your music or art?” is a question that fans and journalists often ask Tim as he travels the world and his universe of possibilities. “Which is the most important,” he glibly tenors back, “the husband or the wife?” In 1979, his mother completed a book about Tim’s life of accomplishments to that point and the role that others provided. Entitled “His Birth made A Difference – HIS Birth Made THE Difference,” it is a fitting tribute to where he was and where he went to that point. Another book is in the making now to capture the rest of his journey up to the places that make him as happy to perform in Ohio as in any other of the 10 countries he has visited so far. Tim’s schedule continues to be pushed by his desire to perform as much as he can. He wants again to be the concert pianist of future renditions of the Piano Paralympics (perhaps even in the United States) even as he inspires others on their journeys. This coming May 5-6 he will be shedding his own kind of light at the Gospel Expo and Workshop in the Stark Education Center in Canton, Ohio, where he will share the stage with such Grammy winners as Kevin Bond. To find out more about Tim’s magic and journy, you can visit his website at www.TimBaley.com.