'The Strangest Song' -- The story of the link between a rare genetic disorder and musical talent

Gloria Lenhoff, age 51, can't make change for a dollar, or subtract five from twelve, or tell left from right. She can't cross the street alone, or write her name legibly, or read music. Her IQ is 55. But Gloria Lenhoff can sing like few people in the world can sing, with a classically trained lyric soprano and a repertoire of hundreds of songs in Italian, French, German, Japanese, Chinese, Macedonian, Korean, Hungarian, Yiddish, and many other languages. Since she can't read music, each note, each word, each nuance, is stored in her brain, which is only 80 percent as large as yours or mine. Gloria Lenhoff has Williams syndrome.

The Strangest Song: One Father's Quest to Help His Daughter Find Her Voice
The Compelling Story of the Link Between a Rare Genetic Disorder and Musical Talent
Teri Sforza with Howard and Sylvia Lenhoff

This is the first book to tell the story of Williams syndrome and the extraordinary musicality of many of the people who have it. Interweaving science and the personal in a compelling narrative, author Teri Sforza follows the quest of biochemistry professor Howard Lenhoff to help his mentally handicapped daughter, Gloria. From his discovery of Gloria's outstanding vocal talent and innate musical gifts, Lenhoff becomes convinced that people with her disorder have an unusual capacity for learning music, despite their profound mental disabilities. Lenhoff is at first rebuffed, called crazy, and finally vindicated when scientistsand his own formal researchconfirm his hunch.

Williams syndrome is a rare genetic aberration that occurs once in every 7,500 births. It springs from a peculiar mishap on the molecular level, a tiny chemical error, but one that exacts an enormous toll on body, brain, and personality. The result is an atypical body and a profoundly asymmetrical mind. Thanks to Howard Lenhoff's single-minded determination and love for his daughter, he succeeds in helping his daughter beyond his wildest dream

Contact: Jill Maxick
Prometheus Books

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