Derek Amato is a professional piano player but he can’t read music or has never taken a piano or music lesson in his whole life. When he was young, he played a little guitar in his school band, but wasn’t really good at it, and now he is a piano virtuoso as he demonstrated it in front of the cameras.
In October 2006, Amato had an accident, he hit his head in a swimming pool and got a serious head injury that made him lose 35% of his hearing and part of his memory. But he suddenly discovered he could play piano beautifully and inexplicably.
And there is more, he said that, when he closes his eyes, he sees keys!
‘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’, he wrote while describing his first experience with piano playing, ‘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.’
How such a thing is possible? Doctors say that his head injury changed his brain chemistry, but he is still a unique and unexplainable case. Actually Oliver Sacks mentioned a quite similar case in his book ‘Musicophilia’, a guy struck by lightning who got the insatiable desire to listen to piano music, then started to hear music in his head, began to compose his own music, and became totally obsessed by music, totally out of the blue as he had never played before! Oliver Sacks remarks in his book that patients with degeneration of the front parts of the brain (fronto-temporal dementia) sometimes develop a startling emergence or release of musical talents and passions!
We still understand so little about the brain, but these examples may prove that a musical ability is in each of us, and could be released by a concussion, a lightning stroke or even a seizure? Still, I would not recommend to anyone to hit his or her head against the wall right now, as these cases are extremely rare.