Piano Prodigy Overcomes Odds to Score Full Ride to Music School

Josue Nunez arrived from the Dominican Republic four years ago and couldn't find a place to practice for months and encountered language barriers

A local high school student who overcame great odds is about to pusue his passion at a prestigious Manhattan school.

Josue Nunez was seven years old when he first sat down at a piano. He played by ear, and by age 10, he was playing to crowds.

Now, at 18, the prodigy is a performer. His fingers dance through Mozart and Beethoven, precise but powerful. 

"I see myself playing to a lot of people, becoming a successful pianist," he says. 

It wasn't easy at first. Nunez and his family arrived in New York from the Dominican Republic four years ago. He couldn't practice for months, and as he searched for a place to play, his family looked for a home and work. For months, they dealt with rejection borne out of a barrier most immigrants know well: language. 

"He didn't speak English but two or three words," said Marc Ponthus, Nunez's piano instructor at Third Street Music School Settlement, where he's now been playing the last four years. 

At least they could relate to the music. 

"He connected very fast -- all on work, determination and in talent, of course," said Ponthus. 

Nunez quickly became a fan favorite at Third Street, according to executive director Valerie Lewis. 

"When the community hears he's playing, they show up to experience it," said Lewis.

After his long journey to practice in the U.S., Nunez starts at the Manhattan School of Music on a full scholarship. 

"I felt like it was a challenge, and I completed it," he said. 

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