Meet Derek Paravicini, The Blind Autistic Savant With Perfect Pitch

Not all of us had the perfect start to life, and at times, we may have struggled from the time we are newborn children. That was the case with a young man who was born in 1979 in Berkshire, England.

Derek Paravicini was born prematurely and an oxygen overdose left him impaired and blind. Although he had difficulty communicating, he did have something that he could share with the world: absolute pitch.

Most of us tend to equate music to the sounds we hear from instruments or the human voice. What Paravicini hears in the world around him, however, is quite different. He takes everyday sounds, from the sounds of a hammer striking wood to cars passing by on the street as musical notes. In other words, he hears beauty in everything happening around him.

Photo: YouTube/TEDx Talks

Paravicini was given a keyboard by his nanny when he was only two years old. By the time he was four years old, he had memorized many different songs and could play them by heart. His parents recognized that he was a special boy so they sent him to the Linden Lodge School for the Blind in London. It is a school that helps children up to 19 years of age that are dealing with sensory or physical impairments.

He wasn’t even a member of the school when he showed how much he had a love of music. When his parents were taking a tour of the school, he got loose and went to the music room. He then stepped up to the piano and began playing masterfully.

Photo: YouTube/TEDx Talks

It wasn’t long before Adam Ockelford, the teacher of that class, recognized what this young boy was capable of doing and he became his mentor. After being admitted to the school, he would give the young lad lessons on a weekly basis, and eventually, his passion for music became much more than simply plucking away at the keys of the piano.

Paravicini continued to learn more and to grow in his abilities, and eventually, he began playing concert halls when he was only 7 years old. Everyone who heard what he was capable of doing was absolutely amazed by his abilities. When they learned that he was blind and autistic, it just added to their amazement.

That young boy has continued to grow, both in his abilities and in age. He is now 41 years old and is known for his ability to demonstrate absolute pitch. Interestingly, a very small percentage of the population can claim that ability, thought to be about one out of every 10,000 people.

If you are wondering what perfect pitch is, it is the ability to hear something one time and play it immediately afterward. Even if it is an intricate piece, it only takes one time before he can repeat it.

Photo: YouTube/TEDx Talks

These days, Paravicini continues to use music to communicate but he does so in a very unique way. After hearing him play and recognizing what he is capable of doing, perhaps you may never look at everyday sounds the same way again.

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