Pianist says autism helps him compose music: ‘People who are autistic do have great abilities’

LANCASTER, Pa. -- Every summer, pianos are placed around Lancaster free for anyone to play.

One man with autism has made playing the pianos a part of his daily routine.

Every time Brad Minnig of Mountville sits on a bench, he's not playing from memory; he says the music just comes to him.

Call it an escape or just a way for Minnig to express what he can't always say.

"It's my way of wandering away from reality," explained Minnig.

He played an original tune for FOX43, straight from the heart.

"I think it's actually the emotion that arose when I knew that you guys were here," he said.

Some people would say it's a gift.

"I hear something in my mind. I create it," said Minnig. "That's what leads me to believe why it came natural."

Minnig says his family discovered it as a child.

"When I found that piano, I just started playing," explained Minnig. "Mom was shocked because she said, 'my son never played piano!'"

Minnig says his autism has helped him along the way.

"Autism actually plays a part in why I am fully dedicated to keep after it because it's an obsession," explained Minnig.

The other part? Minnig says the desire to prove people wrong.

"I was a victim of bullying. People, teachers, professionals, students - they didn't understand autism. They thought I was never going to graduate high school," said Minnig.

Minnig is now composing just about every day. He has 19 albums and hundreds of songs to date.

He takes full advantage of Music For Everyone's Keys for the City.

Over 120 pianos have been placed around Lancaster since 2009.

"Every day, I make an effort to come down," said Minnig.

"I really believe in him, and I think he's an amazing young man and he truly brings out what we at Music For Everyone believe in, and that's the power of music," said Deb Rohrer with Music For Everyone.

"I'm tired of people saying, 'you can't do something', and put a label on you," stated Minnig.

He is hoping to make a global impact and show the world his talents.

"People who are autistic do have great abilities," said Minnig.

Minnig says he'd like to thank everyone who has helped him over the years - teachers, friends, family, people in the community.

As for the pianos, they will be out all summer for anyone to use at various spots in Lancaster.

Organizers with Music for Everyone would like to thank the Lancaster County Solid Waste Management Authority for its involvement with Keys for the City.

Read more about Music for Everyone here. 

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