CA the blind musician
Type of Spiritual Experience
A description of the experience
As quoted in The Singing Neanderthals – Steven Mithen
CA was blind at birth, and by the age of six he had been diagnosed as severely mentally retarded; his language was, and remained up to the date of Miller's book [Leon Miller, a psychologist specializing in childhood disability at the University of lllinois], almost entirely echolalic.
CA was placed in a residential institution; he was aggressive and, until the age of eleven, had to be fed, dressed and toileted by the staff. It was during those years that his special sensitivity to sound became apparent. If he heard someone tapping a sound with a spoon on a table, CA would tap objects until he found the correct match for what he had heard. He was attracted to an accordion that one of the supervisors brought into the ward.
The supervisor took on the task of teaching him to play - an extraordinarily difficult task since there could be virtually no verbal instruction. But once CA had learnt the required fingering to produce different sounds, his progress was rapid. He began lessons at the supervisor's house, some of which lasted whole days. At the age of fourteen he appeared in his first public concert and he then began to make regular performances, often with his teacher.
He moved into a private home and began to learn the piano; he favoured waltzes and polkas, having learnt those during his first few years of playing.
The source of the experienceOther ill or disabled person
Concepts, symbols and science items
Activities and commonsteps
OverloadsListening to sound and music
SuppressionsAutism, savantism and other forms of PDD
Blindness, macular degeneration and other sight impairment
Listening to beating sounds
Listening to music