Medical Mystery Turns One Man Into Piano Prodigy
To what does Derek Amato owe his amazing musical talent? Would you believe it was a severe head injury?
Until he was nearly 40 years old he'd barely even touched a piano. Then one day, he dove into a swimming pool and hit his head.
Amato told INSIDE EDITION, "To me, it was just a knock on the head."
He slept for four days after the injury and he awoke to a miraculous new life.
The phenomenon began when Amato went to a friend's house and noticed a piano in the room. He never had any musical training or showed any interest in music. On that fateful day, he sat down at the piano and began playing an original song.
He said, "It was as if it was screaming at me, it was saying ‘Come play me!’ I immediately started playing very fluid."
INSIDE EDITION’s Jim Moret asked, “The first time you sat down after that accident, that's what came out?"
He replied, "Yes."
The Science Channel featured his story. That head injury changed his brain chemistry, resulting in an extremely rare medical condition called “Acquired Savant Syndrome."
Hollywood has embraced this notion in movies such as Phenomenon, when mechanic John Travolta suddenly becomes a genius with telekinetic powers.
Perhaps that's what happened to Oscar-winning actress Mary Steenburgen, whose musical talent also came out of the blue.
Steenburgen explained, "I had minor surgery on my arm. I was under general anesthesia. The music started right after that!"
That's right, after that operation, she suddenly began writing and performing songs, including one for the upcoming movie Last Vegas.
Amato's gift is also a burden, he has suffered frequent headaches since that life-altering head injury in 2006, as well as loss of hearing and memory and wherever he is, his fingers move frantically to compose music, whether or not he's sitting at the piano.
But he believes his magical gift is well worth those problems and he owes it all to a dive gone wrong.
Moret said, "Hitting your head was like turning on a musical switch."
Amato replied, "Absolutely."