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Pianist teaches himself to play again after losing 3 fingers

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Updated: 1/22/2013 1:03 pm
By Boyd Huppert
NBC News

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. -- Ask anyone at the annual Ragtime Festival, and they'll tell you the magic is in the pianists' fast moving fingers.

The founder of the event is aware of that too -- painfully.
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"You can see the angle of the blade, right there," says Jim Radloff, revealing the three middle fingers on his right hand, severed above the first knuckle.

Jim calls it his "leap day lament."

On Feb. 29, last year, he lost part of his hand while attempting to unclog a snow blower he thought had stopped spinning.

Jim's wife made the 911 call. He was rushed by ambulance to Eau Claire's Mayo Clinic, where he became part of hospital lore as one of seven Eau Claire-area men who lost parts of their hands in snow blowers on the same day from the same storm.

We're not sure how the rest of them are doing, but with two usable fingers on his dominant hand, Jim's passion for piano would not allow him to settle for chopsticks.

He quickly determined that his stumps were too short and too fat to be of any use in striking keys.

However, by swinging his right elbow out wide, Jim trained his pinky do the work of his missing fingers -- with frequent assists from his thumb.
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