Blind 6-Year-Old Teaches Himself to Play Piano, Now Plays for Crowds of Hundreds

Avett Ray Maness was born with optic nerve hypoplasia (ONH), a congenital disorder relating to the underdevelopment of the optic nerve. But that hasn't stopped him.

This 6-year-old self-taught piano prodigy won’t stop until he reaches his dreams – and he won’t let blindness slow him down.

Avett Ray Maness, of Dayton, Ohio, is stealing people’s hearts with his renditions of classics like "Bohemian Rhapsody" and "Happy Together."

“When I see Avett singing and playing the piano and performing in front of these large crowds, I really forget that I'm his mom,” mother Sara Moore told “I turn into total fan girl. And I kind of have to pinch myself and remind myself like, 'Yeah, that's mine.'”

She explained that Avett has been a natural ever since he could reach the keys, teaching himself to play "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" when he was 11 months old.

Avett was born with optic nerve hypoplasia (ONH), a congenital disorder that refers to an underdevelopment of the optic nerve, which has affected the way he learns and interacts with the world around him.

“When we visually see something, something happens in our body that doesn’t happen to children that are blind,” Moore explained. “They need some stimulus like spinning in circles, rocking back and forth. That keeps him able to focus and more on balance.”

But it didn’t seem Avett needed his vision when he began teaching himself to play guitar or when he learned new techniques alongside an instructor.

“I like to sing and play the piano because it makes everybody happy,” Avett said.

Today, he’s performing in front of crowds of nearly 1,000 and inspiring others to be more accepting of people with special needs.

“If you have interacted with Avett in any way, you just see the world new and different than you once did,” his mom said. “Once you engage with Avett, you never see the world the same.”

Avett said he now hopes to learn to play the tuba, the trumpet and the saxophone.