The last couple weeks have brought crazy weather for Virginia, but we’ve been luckier than most people. So you can imagine my surprise when we had gorgeous weather this weekend. So gorgeous my father and I decided to take advantage of it and attend an annual summer festivity.
I don’t know about you, but it’s always been a staple for our family growing up. Granted, I wasn’t able to enjoy the rides; Still, I laughed with glee watching as my mom struggled to win some kind of roller-ball game just so that I could receive an enormous stuffed animal. Sometimes, even, vendors would even see me in my wheelchair and give me one for free. Those were some good times!
Since moving here, we hadn’t had any luck finding one. So you can imagine my surprise when dad came down with the brochure for the county fair. Coming into it, both of us didn’t know what to expect, considering our previous experiences.
But this one was different.
The world’s smallest fair, I like to call it.
It was located on the top of a small hill. There were about 25 – 30 vendors with hot dogs, hamburger, corn dogs and nachos. It also included several rides for the kids, as well as camel and horse rides.
You heard me right! Camel rides.
Long story short, this fair made me nostalgic for my youth. But hey, at least I got my funnel cake.
Anyway, that was my weekend. Now, on to today’s post. I came across a television segment on 60 minutes featuring the topic of savants. More specifically, musical savants. It highlighted the talents of Derek Paravicina. Today, Derek is a 31-year-old gifted musician who travels the world reminding audiences that no disability is too great and you should never limit yourself.
According to 60 minutes, Derek was born three months premature and weighed only a pound and a half. This left him with a number of developmental delays as well as blindness. But nothing could have prepared his parents for the surprises ahead as he developed a fascination with his toy keyboard.
“My daughter suddenly sent to me one day’he’s just playing one of the hymns we heard in church this morning” said Nic Paravicina
He was three at at the time.
In an effort to cultivate his skills, his parents arranged a interview with piano teacher Adam Ockerford. The interview didn’t go quite as planned, however, because he bumped into the teacher in the middle of a lesson. Despite Derek’s lack of technique, Adam sensed there was something special in the way he played “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina”. But how was he supposed to teach someone who could neither see the piano in front of him or hold even the simplest of conversations.
And so the journey began.
In the beginning, he couldn’t understand why this man wanted to take control of his keyboard. When in reality, Adam just wanted them to repeat the scales or notes. Eventually, something changed.
“I think suddenly it clicked that he could have a conversation in sound. Suddenly, he just blossomed,” said Ockelford
Finally, Derek began feeling connected with that outside world. Within three years of daily lessons, he was even asked to perform in front of an audience. It was there that Adam finally saw Derek’s love for performing for the first time.
“When you are on a big stage, the applause hits you like a wave.. He was trembling with excitement and elation that people were reacting to him and his playing,” he said. Even more remarkable is his ability to take a song, any song and change it to any style from ragtime to jazz. Or any key, for that matter.
As well as doing concerts and making CDs, Derek still loves connecting with people on a personal level. His recent experiences have brought him to nursing homes playing the piano for the elderly.
“He’s like a musical jukebox,” Adam says
As for his father who continues to be amazed by his son’s accomplishments, he says “They say good comes out of bad and that’s certainly true in Derek’s case: without even knowing it, he’s done more good than probably most of us will ever do!”
Citation for TV program: 60 minutes. CBS Channel 9 WUSA, August 1, 2010