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Musikgarten Blog: Playing Music in the Dark – How Blind Musicians Learn and Thrive

When asked to name one famous visually impaired person, many of us will recall a musician. A lot of that is because musicians are in the public eye more than others, but it also points to the great success that many blind musicians have enjoyed. Visually impaired musicians such as Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder, Ronnie Milsap, and Doc Watson have had success across a variety of musical genres. Neuroscientists have long studied that which initially seems like a challenge to the visually impaired tends to grant an advantage in music. One determining factor is how their brains develop through the connection of music and movement.

 Brain Development in the Visually Impaired

Scientists have long known that hearing and touch are enhanced in the blind. The space in the brain dedicated to vision is made available to those senses, enhancing the capacity to hear music and touch instruments. Blind children pay much more attention to everyday sounds compared to those with full sight. One study that considered many different sources found that children who were blind at birth or an early age are 4,000 times more likely to have perfect pitch than their sighted peers.

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