The Strangest Song: One Father's Quest to Help His Daughter Find Her Voice

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Prometheus Books - Health & Fitness
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Gloria Lenhoff's story - of living with a rare congenital disorder and enormous musical talent - is extraordinary, like Williams syndrome itself. The Strangest Song is a marvelous achievement, beautifully and compellingly written by Teri Sforza, who interweaves Gloria's poignant and dramatic personal story with a fascinating history of the scientific investigation of a puzzling brain condition.-OLIVER SACKS, MD, Author of Awakenings, The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, and many other worksThis 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 scientists - and his own formal research - confirm 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 dreams. Gloria's talents take her to a concert at Washington's Kennedy Center and a number of classical recordings. Besides his daughter's personal success, Lenhoff helps establish the first residential college for mentally disabled musicians in Massachusetts, where today talented Williams people are finally getting professional training and performing at professional levels.An inspiring blend of human interest and breakthrough science, The Strangest Song offers startling insights into the mysteries of the brain and hope that science can find new ways to help the handicapped.MORE PRAISE FOR THE STRANGEST SONGAn inspirational diary of a daughter with a marvelous musical gift. And a hopeful roadmap for other parents that reveals what dedication, determination, belief, inquiry, cheer-leading, love and advocacy can do when the focus is on ability rather than dis-ability in children with handicaps. 'Train the talent - in whatever form and in whatever measure it exists - and do so with joy,' sings out loudly from the pages here in convincing and extraordinary song. Gloria wants to make the world more ready for William's people. She does. Bravo Gloria!-DAROLD A. TREFFERT, MD, Author of Extraordinary People: Understanding Savant Syndrome; Clinical Professor, University of Wisconsin Medical SchoolTeri Sforza has done a masterful job in telling a story that not only touches us, but gives us a deeper understanding of Williams Syndrome. Like a complex puzzle, the story unfolds as more and more pieces come together to make a rich, colorful and unexpected picture. Bravo Teri.-ARLENE ALDA, Award-winning children's book author/photographer; Director of the documentary film Bravo Gloria!Teri Sforza (Laguna Beach, CA) is a senior writer at the Orange County Register, where she contributed to its Pulitzer Prize-winning investigation of fertility fraud at the University of California, Irvine, and covered the largest municipal bankruptcy in America's history. She is the winner of an Associated Press News Executives Council award for public service reporting and a Lowell Thomas prize for travel writing.
 

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Contents

Acknowledgments
9
Prelude
15
A Baby Is Born
17
Mesmerizing Music
31
Exposition
47
Hi Hopes
63
The Veil Lifts
75
An Eerie Aptitude
89
Pitch Perfect
175
Sing of Rice Krispies
197
A Place for Us
215
Proof
227
Professional Pinnacle
241
Coda
253
An Open Letter from Howard Lenhoff
261
A Howto for Parents of Musical
267

And Music for All
109
Man on a Mission
127
The Music Camp Experiment
145
The Genes of Personality
161

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About the author

Teri Sforza (Laguna Beach, CA) is a senior writer at the Orange County Register, where she contributed to its Pulitzer Prize-winning investigation of fertility fraud at the University of California, Irvine, and covered the largest municipal bankruptcy in America's history. She is the winner of an Associated Press News Executives Council award for public service reporting and a Lowell Thomas prize for travel writing.

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