Derek, now in his mid twenties, was born premature, at 25 weeks, and weighing just over half a kilogram. As a result of the oxygen therapy required to save his life, Derek lost his sight, and his development was affected too. It later became apparent that he had severe learning difficulties. However, he soon acquired a fascination for music and sound, and, by the age of four, had taught himself to play a large number of pieces on the piano, of some melodic and harmonic complexity (such as Smoke Gets in your Eyes). Almost inevitably, with no visual models to guide him, his technique was chaotic, and even his elbows would frequently be pressed into service, as he strove to reach intervals beyond the span of his tiny hands!
At this time, his enormous potential was recognised by Adam Ockelford, then music teacher at Linden Lodge School for the Blind in London. In due course, weekly and then daily lessons were arranged, in an extensive programme of tuition that was to last for several years. Painstakingly (through physical demonstration and imitation) Derek acquired the foundations of technique that were necessary for him to move forward. His natural affinity for jazz, pop and light music soon became evident; together with his improvisatory talents, ability to play in any key, and flair for performing in public!
Derek's first major concert was at the Barbican Halls in London, when he was just 9 (in 1989). He played jazz with the Royal Philharmonic Pops Orchestra. Numerous national and regional television appearances followed, in the UK and overseas.
His increasing maturity both as a person and performer enabled him to give concerts in venues across England and in Europe; among them, Ronnie Scott's renowned jazz club in London.
Derek has a unique style of playing with a phenomenal technique that enables him to play and improvise pieces of the utmost complexity on the piano. His preferred styles are jazz, pop and light classical. He has a great memory, and can recall thousands of pieces instantly, which he can play in different keys and even in different styles. So he can play Bach with a 'walking bass' and jazz in the contrapuntal style of Bach!
Today, Derek is a student at Redhill College in Surrey, England, run by the Royal National Institute of the Blind. He attends courses at SoundScape - a unique performing arts centre for young adults with learning difficulties and exceptional musical abilities or needs. His talent, love of music, and - above all - the ability to communicate through sound means he will continue to thrill audiences for years to come in the UK and abroad.
You can find more information about Derek and his musical activities as well as a guest-book and an online gift-shop on his recently developed website: www.derekparavicini.net