Brilliant Brains

Derek Paravicini – The Human Jukebox

Last Updated on July 14, 2020 by Darshan Modi

Derek Paravicini
Derek Paravicini


Derek Paravicini is able to play any song perfectly after listening to it once – then records the song in his memory for life, dubbing him the name, “The Human Jukebox.”

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Derek was born on July 26, 1979 in Reading, United Kingdom.

Early Life

He was born 15 weeks premature, blind and autistic.
As he was unable to read or communicate properly, music became his way of communicating.
Incredibly, he started playing the piano at 2 years old on a toy organ.
At the age of 4, he taught himself to play many complex pieces on the piano.
Derek performed his first major piano performance when he was 7 years old.
For years, he played the piano with his elbows and the back of his hands. It took his music teacher, Dr Adam Ockelford, a decade to teach him how to play with his fingers.
He attended Linden Lodge School for the Blind in London.

About Derek Paravicini

While pianists need to read music in order to play it, Derek simply needs to only listen to the song once in order to play it perfectly.
He is extremely mentally impaired, and able to memorize and play every song he has ever listened to, making him a savant – which is a person defined as being able to perform capabilities that far exceed the average person. Many savants are also autistic.
Although he was diagnosed as autistic, many close family members and friends disagree, saying he shows excitement when he sees loved ones.
Derek spends his time at RNIB college in Redhill receiving special education and 24/7 supervision.
Derek not only remembers and performs every song he’s heard, perfectly, but also composes, adapts and improvises music.

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Genetic Or Learned

Derek taught himself to play piano, however he was born with his superpower. His coach and mentor, Dr Adam Ockelford, who is a music psychologist and has known Derek since he was 4, admits he still cannot figure out Derek’s brain.
As Derek is a savant, which is a condition that is poorly understood by scientists, it’s still a struggle to understand exactly how disabilities and extreme talent are linked.
Most Neurologists agree that savants develop their gifts as the brain becomes hypersensitive and tries to compensate for the damaged parts of the brain.
Derek’s MRI scans show the section of his brain that would otherwise be used for sight has been used to heighten his auditory ability.

Names Known By

  • Human Jukebox
  • Human ipod

Official Website


Featured In

  • TEDxWarwick
  • History Channel's Stan Lee's Superhumans
  • BBC Radio 4
  • Channel 5's Extraordinary People
  • NOVA series' episode “Musical Minds”
  • Wogan
  • Musicical Savants (Documentary)