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FREE ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT MAGAZINE | WWW.THEEASTSIDESCENE.COM | MAY 2016

Blind ambition Born blind, Mac Potts uses an aptitude for tones to fuel his musical performances by Allison DeAngelis

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t’s not hard to see that Mac Potts was born to be a musician. Despite having been born blind, he would tap out one-note versions of nursery rhymes and children’s songs on the family piano. By the time he was 2 years old, Potts was playing scales on his family’s piano. What he calls his blessing and curse of perfect pitch also became apparent when he was very young. When an out-of-tune note frustrated a young Potts to the point of being unable to use his family’s piano, he enlisted his father’s help to create a makeshift tool out of foam and braille paper to tune the piano to his liking. After being the youngest person to be evaluated by the Piano Hospital training school in Vancouver, Washington, Potts sped through the course. Now 24, he owns a music store in Portland and travels the country tuning pianos and performing. He performs regularly at different venues and festivals in Seattle, Vancouver, Portland and New Orleans. He has performed with everyone from Harry Connick, Jr. to the Seattle Symphony to United by Music, a performance group for musically talented people with development and intellectual challenges or delays. Because he cannot drive, Potts relies on hosts, friends, family and his fiancee to help him travel from show to show. He tunes pianos in part to help finance his dreams, but also because he has a natural talent for it, coupled with what he describes as an almost obsessive need to do so. “It would be a waste if I didn’t [tune pianos], because I’m always complaining about pianos being out of tune. It’s a call to duty,” he said.

{ { Mac Potts was born both blind and with a prodigal aptitude for tones. At a young age, his father helped him craft a braille piano tuning tool. Allison DeAngelis/staff photo

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