Domenic Albanese does a pretty good job of pounding out a rhythm on his drum set. He sometimes leaves his friends and family in awe. When you listen to the smooth, crisp sound of every beat, you wouldn’t guess the Vanier College student is visually impaired.
The 23-year-old was born with eye malformations and has had a number of corrective surgeries. He suffers from a number of disorders including microphthalmia, which causes his eyes to be abnormally smaller than normal.
Albanese has no vision in his left eye and can only see about 30 per cent out of his right eye.
« I wanted to play drums since I was small. I won’t let a disability stop me from doing something I am passionate about, » he says.
His father, Nick Albanese, says his son’s love of drumming began when he was about 5 years old. He was asked to play the role of « drummer boy » for a Christmas play. He’s been hooked ever since.
« Domenic fell in love at a young age, but it was his current music teacher that found a way to launch him to the next level. It just clicked with Vince, » he says.
Vince Di Zazzo is the president of the Montreal Drum Lessons School in St-Leonard. He’s been teaching Albanese for close to six years now. Di Zazzo has seen more than 200 students in his 35 year career, but he says Albanese stands out.
« He has the ability to file things away in his brain. His memory is incredible. If I pick up a music book and I tell him to play what is on page 12, he’ll just start playing it like that. He’s an amazing individual, » Di Zazzo says.
Albanese is enrolled in the Languages and Culture program at Vanier College. It’s his first semester at the Saint-Laurent cegep. While he’s still undecided about a career, Albanese dreams of earning a living as a musician.
« I’m getting pretty good at the drums. I feel like I can play for a long time in a band. Why not? » he says.
His teacher agrees the standout student could earn money with « weekend gigs ».
Albanese has a second dream. He wants to one day jam with his idol – rock star Jon Bon Jovi.
According to a British study conducted in 2010, musical talent can stem from visual impairment. Professor Adam Ockelford of the Institute of Education in London found that blind children are 4,000 times more likely to have perfect pitch, a traditional marker of exceptional musical ability, compared to their sighted peers.
The study also found that playing music was a source of comfort for visually impaired boys and girls.