Stelios Grekas and Marios Sarellas - Photo by Chrysi Tzavla

Two musicians with vision problems show the importance of not giving up

Nowadays, music is an inseparable part of life. Many people are interested in learning to play a musical instrument, but few succeed because of the many difficulties they encounter.

Today I had the opportunity to interview two musicians, Stelios Grekas (pianist) and Marios Sarellas (guitarist). Although they are not able to see, they have overcome this difficulty and lead completely successful lives.

How did you start learning music?

Stelios: I entered kindergarten when I was 4 years old. We had a teacher who taught us music. She had an electronic keyboard. After a while, she realised that my hearing ability was particularly good and suggested to my parents that they buy me a piano.

Well, how about you Marios?

He is silent, I guess he is trying to remember, meanwhile Stelios is laughing and saying “hurry up!”.

Marios: I was 9 years old and played the piano, but suddenly decided I wanted to learn to play the guitar, so I started with a local teacher.

How was it at the beginning?

Marios: Actually, I used to play the wrong notes because of my vision problems, and I also needed to see the strings. Then my teacher told me: “Don’t try to see them, try and do it by listening!”. And that was the key for me. I also practised a lot.

Stelios takes a deep breath: My first music teacher didn’t know how to teach technique to someone who can’t see, but when I changed teachers, the new one used a different method: I touched her hands in order to understand their movement. Fortunately, that has really worked for me.

Well now, can you tell me who has been the most influential person in your artistic life?

They are both thinking.

Stelios: Definitely my first music teacher. Although she couldn’t teach me technique, she taught me the true meaning of music and how to love it. If it wasn’t for her I wouldn’t be at this level!

Marios: Actually I played the guitar in a café as a teenager. It was nice there. But I became complacent about my artistic ability and thought I didn’t need to practice anymore. One night two musicians came and said: “You are a talented boy, but you are wasting your skills here. You have to keep learning and studying music. Don’t stay here and don’t waste your talent!”. Their words made me think and changed my mind and my life.

During the interview, I could see them smiling, literally all the time. They are really positive, strong boys that could easily become a symbol for society: a symbol for hard work and not giving up.

In the end, Stelios said he wants to be a good singer as well as a piano player, and Marios said he wants to be a music teacher. I wish them all the best!

Special thanks to Chrysi, their friend, who was there and helped me with the translation.