Sudden Savant Syndrome and My Impending Genius



Savant syndrome comes in several different forms.

In Congenital Savant Syndrome the extraordinary ability surfaces in early childhood and is believed to exist from birth. 

Acquired Savant Syndrome appears unexpectedly in ordinary persons after a head injury, or other traumatic incidents and they develop astonishing new abilities, typically in music, art, or math.

In Sudden Savant Syndrome an ordinary person, with no such prior interest, ability, or injury, has an unanticipated, spontaneous epiphany, like moment where they become instantaneously gifted. Because there is no underlying event, sudden savant syndrome would be better termed "sudden genius." 

Those are two words NEVER used to describe me.

If you need proof, I can't draw or sing, and my disdain/dislike for mathematics has been well chronicled in these weekly missives. It doesn’t take a genius to know that I am no savant. 

But, do I possess the potential to become one?

What makes all three forms of “savantness” interesting is the fact that each of the three forms implies that the talent was within all along. Experts believe that in each case the extraordinary abilities were not suddenly “created,” but were always within and were somehow suddenly “unlocked.”

Always within us...

Is it possible that we all have an inner “savantness” waiting to come out? Is it possible that each and every child (and adult) was meant to create music at a high level? Is it possible that the reason music has existed in every known society is because it exists in every known person?
Is every person a musical savant in waiting?

If so…

Then every child was meant to play, sing, and create. Regardless of their physical, emotional, or cognitive obstacles, they were BORN to make music! And as music educators it is our role and responsibility to facilitate, elevate, and provide experiences that allow each and every young person to find their “inner savant.” 

Yes, even students who struggle have enormous unlocked potential. Today’s beginner is tomorrow’s all-stater. Today’s struggle is tomorrow’s victory. Today’s challenge is tomorrow’s triumph because today’s student is tomorrow’s savant.

In short, our role as teachers is to be their savant sherpa.


The average age of a sudden savant event is 47.5 years old. 

So, there’s hope for me yet. Right?