The Blind Musician

May 17, 2018 – Presenter: Richard Fish, MD
Dr. Richard Fish is an ophthalmologist and a musician. His passion for these two fields led him to explore the connection between visual disability and musical performance. This presentation, based on his book, The Blind Musician: Historical, Ophthalmic, Musical, and Neurological Aspects of Gifted Artists, highlights the biographies of both popular and little known performers with visual impairments such as Johann Sebastian Bach, Andrea Bocelli, Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder, Blind Tom Wiggins, and others. His fascinating talk weaves together the medical issues and histories of these performers, shedding light on the concept of neuroplasticity, a rewiring of brain structure as the causative link between visual impairment and musical aptitude. For example, a surprisingly high number of blind children have perfect pitch. A review of autistic musical savants, as well as blind musicians in non-Western cultures is also presented.