Acquiring Musical Genius Through Injury

I’ve just read about a guy by the name of Derek Amato. In 2006 he suffered a serious concussion after hitting his head in a swimming pool. Apparently he lost quite a bit of his hearing and memory. But here’s the remarkable thing.

While visiting a friend some time after the accident, he inexplicably felt a strong urge to sit down and play the piano. He described the experience in this way:

© Pazham | Stock Free Images & Dreamstime Stock Photos

“As I shut my eyes, I found these black and white structures moving from left to right, which in fact would represent in my mind, a fluid and continuous stream of musical notation. My fingers began to scale the piano keys as if I had played all of my life. I can’t explain the feeling of awe that overcame my entire being, although I can tell you the expression on my friend’s face was enough to put us both in tears.”

He is now a professional pianist. Apparently Derek Amato is one of the few people in the world who has acquired, not been born with, Savant Syndrome. According to experts in the field his case is extremely rare and the chances of it happening again are virtually nil.

Although his story is so profound and unique I couldn’t help but think of how it speaks in to our own giftedness which is so often discovered in our very woundedness. Wounds, in whatever form, tend to give birth to aspects of ourselves, which if nurtured and expressed, can become extremely effective in our engagements with others and with life in general. Some of the most pronounced contributions to life have come out of the woundedness of people.

So, we may not have hit our heads in a swimming pool, nor suddenly have played the piano, but we’ve all been wounded by life in some way or other. Coming to understand these vulnerabilities will give to each of us that wonderful gift of empathy and compassion, and then, who knows what other gifts may flow from this.


About Don

I love life. Sometimes it makes sense, other times not. Discerning its underlying patterns and beauty always provides great reward and meaning and is a passion I ineptly follow. I feel deeply attached to nature and love the sea with its distinct moods and colour and find walking along its beaches wonderfully inspiring. Writing, sketching and photography is a sheer joy for me and the blog is one of the places I am able to express these pursuits.
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12 Responses to Acquiring Musical Genius Through Injury

  1. darrelhoff says:

    this is brilliant!


  2. That is absolutely fascinating! What a gift to come out of an accident! 🙂


  3. Doreen Aucamp says:

    Just goes to show again…. A challenge can always be turned into an opportunity if we choose to acknowledge the positives and not just focus and drown ourselves in the negatives! (no punn intended)


  4. Don says:

    You’re right Doreen. It does have everything to do with how we perceive things.


  5. Theo Coggin says:

    I have read about Derek Amato often, but I really enjoy your interpretation in this piece, Don. It also resonates with me in so far as my experience with Andrew is concerned (I must still start the Blog that explores THAT type of experience!) I have forwarded it to Ruth as well; as you know she is a musician.


  6. Don says:

    Thanks for that Theo. Would certainly love to hear about your experience with Andrew. It must be very special. Hope Ruth enjoys the post.


  7. Greg. says:

    Mozart child genius. Django Reinhardt great jazz guitarist had 3 fingers on left hand. Def Leppard drummer one armed player.
    Classical, jazz, rock, if the call is there it must be answered.
    As for Buddy Rich as another child genius never to be bested.


  8. Derek Amato says:

    refreshing to read such nice comments, thank you for sharing don. wishing you health and happiness! derek


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