Howard was born in Whittier, California in 1962 as the first born child and grandchild. He showed signs of elevated physical and mental abilities. But at the age of 3 ½, he was hit by a car and suffered a traumatic brain injury. Even in the years following the subsequent brain surgery and recovery, he continued to display evidence of high intelligence. However, due to the nature of his brain injury, he had difficulties with traditional learning. Special education was just becoming a reality in the public school system, so when he entered school, and following evaluations, he was placed in the Educationally Handicapped classes.
Howard, comes from a family with a history of musical and artistic talent. Because of his particular injury, his brain switched from left to right dominance and this allowed both his artistic and musical talents to develop. At the age of 7, he began classes at Yamaha School of Music, where he learned the basics in music over the period of a year. Private piano music lessons followed him until the age of 17. At his final recital he played Franz List’s, Piano Concerto #1, 2nd Movement, accompanied by his teacher playing the orchestration on the Organ. Students were required to memorize their music, except in performances where they were accompanied by another individual. However, Howard had memorized the score, and when the instructor made a mistake, both she and Howard stopped, she referred him to a place in the score to begin again, and he did so. When the pair finished and took their bows, she was pleasantly shocked to find that Howard had played the whole piece, stops and everything, without the printed music.