A recently-hired Drake University piano instructor who broke her arm just over a year ago will give a free performance this Sunday dedicated to her doctors and her Drake colleagues.
Rika Uchida moved to Iowa in August of last year and on her second day in Des Moines she fell in the bathroom of her new apartment and broke her right arm. She went to an emergency room where her lower arm was put in a cast, but when the cast came off it became apparent things weren’t right.
In late October of last year Dr. Steven Taylor installed two plates — and eight pins — in Uchida’s arm. “So when I see (an) x-ray, it looks like science fiction,” she says, laughing. “It looks like a robot.”
Her right arm now weighs one pound more than her left arm because the two plates weigh half a pound each. “Thanks to the surgery, I can play as I used to,” she says. Uchida calls Dr. Taylor her hero because she was new at Drake, her insurance coverage hadn’t kicked in and he performed the surgery for free.
For nearly three months, Uchida was unable to play the piano with her right hand. But a week after the surgery, she started playing the piano as her rehabilitation — both physical and emotional therapy. “My arms were so stiff and I was a little worried about it, but it was amazing,” she says. “Things started coming back.”
Uchida feels her right arm — and the rest of her — are ready for her first public performance in Iowa. “Sometimes people think playing the piano involved hands and fingers only, however the whole body’s involved,” she says.
Uchida’s best friend will be involved in Sunday’s concert, too. Uchida, a native of Japan, studied piano at the University of Oregon and Mio Aoike, her best friend from Eugene, has come to practice this week in Des Moines and play with Uchida on Sunday. “She is already back to normal,” her friend says.
Uchida says Sunday’s concert is dedicated not only to her doctors, but her friends in the Drake music department who stepped in and helped a brand new colleague going through a “depressing” time. “It’s like a miracle for me,” she says of the whole experience.
Uchida and her friend plan to practice at least five hours a day between now and Sunday to hone their pieces. You can hear the concert for yourself on Sunday at five o’clock on the Drake campus in Sheshlow Auditorium.
If you want to listen to part of Uchida’s practice session with her friend, check on the audio link below.