Ellen Boudreaux is in a class of her own as a female savant.
She is blind and possesses an astonishing musical prowess, a spatial sense that defies her blindness and a remarkable memory.
She has been described as a musical genius with a pervasive sense of rhythm.
Ellen was born in 1957. She was born prematurely and because of this developed a condition known as retrolental fibroplasias or blindness of prematurity.
Doctors confirmed her blindness at 4 months. She however began exhibiting remarkable abilities as early as six months when her older sister noticed that baby Ellen was singing.
In actuality, she was humming the lullaby that was playing on her cradle gym.
Her mother realized that she had the ability to recognize and learn sound at a very young age.
Despite her remarkable abilities, Ellen grew very slowly and she didn’t learn to walk until she was 4 years old.
As she learnt to walk, her parents noticed that she had a spatial sense that was impressive for a blind child.
She was able to pin-point the exact location of objects in front of her such as fences, walls and buildings that were at a distance of about 6 feet away from her.
Throughout her childhood, she developed and used a form of radar that consisted of little chirping sounds that enabled her get a very good sense of direction and navigate her way through life.
Ellen Bourdeaux’s Superpower
Ellen is known for her musical skills and memory. These skills began to manifest at very young age, as young as six months old.
By the age of 4, she had surprised her family members by being able to recognize simple tunes on an electric organ.
By the age of 7, her teacher was so impressed by her musical skills that she recommended that her parents buy her a piano.
She would go on to learn how to play the piano and would come up with piano chords for melodies she heard on the radio.
She was able to transpose the orchestra and chords in the musical Evita and play them on Piano. The end product has been described as complex and precise.
She is able to reproduce the mob sounds and crowd sounds very well using both hands making her rendition a lengthy and impressive performance of the musical.
Ellen taught herself how to play the guitar. She did this by spending hours learning and committing to memory the tones that each string produced and by trial and error.
She is a master of improvisation and learnt to improvise at an early age. She would often hear a piece of music in one form, like jazz and play it in another form, like classical.
She especially enjoyed transposing TV commercials she heard into piano chords that she would play for her family.
By the time she was 8 years old, Ellen developed an acute sense of timekeeping that baffled many.
She demonstrated this very well when at a very young age she would tune in to her favorite TV show at the precise moment it started.
What we can learn from her
As much as most of her abilities seemed to stem from her own curiosity and hunger for knowledge, it is important to realize that some of her incredible abilities were as a result of her parents’ encouragement.
For example, on realizing that she was afraid of the telephone, her mother encouraged her to listen to the ringing tone or automatic recording.
She would then go to her room and mimic what she heard. Therefore, it is a good idea to encourage curiosity in children. You never know what they may learn.
What is she currently doing?
Ellen currently plays music with her band the Diremakers where she is the lead soloist.
She has also had the opportunity to do solo performances in numerous venues around the world.
She also plays a full concert at a summer camp for blind children every year. She also continues to develop her skills and lend a helping hand to others.
Links and More Information
Ellen: With a Song in Her Heart