Violinist Itzhak Perlman’s ‘easy and hard’ sketch on Sesame Street is everything about being human

21 January 2020, 13:55

By Kyle Macdonald

“Some things that are really easy for you, are really hard for me”

Here’s a poignant and honest minute of television about ability, dedication, struggle and humanity.

It took place back in 1980, when American-Israeli violinist Itzhak Perlman made an appearance on the iconic US kids TV show, Sesame Street. The sketch places Perlman, the virtuoso musician, alongside Itzhak, the person.

Read more: Itzhak Perlman reprises his ‘child prodigy’ TV debut 60 years on >

Itzhak Perlman
Itzhak Perlman plays. Picture: Getty

In the video, a young violinist runs upstairs to a platform, and sits down with her violin.

Perlman, who contracted polio aged four and has walked using leg braces and crutches ever since, climbs up slowly behind her. He turns to the young girl and says: “Some things that are really easy for you, are really hard for me”.

The older musician then picks up his instrument and casually plays a few virtuosic phrases. The young violinist responds: “Yes, but some things that are easy for you are hard for me”. She then plays her violin at a more beginner level, with much concentration.

At the end, you can just catch the great violinist smiling and saying an encouraging “nice”.

Simple, profound and true.

Perlman has made many appearances on Sesame Street over the years, most recently as part of the show’s 50th anniversary celebrations in November last year. This segment was included in VH1's special, The Greatest TV Moments: Sesame Street Music A-Z.