CCIU Scholarship Essay I, a child born with sensorineural hearing loss in both of my ears, have a thriving passion for music. As much of a listener as I may be, I also enjoy playing and making music for myself and others. My interest in music started in elementary school when I was first introduced to the act of actually playing an instrument. The cello really stood out to me because I liked the way that a person would have to sit down to play; I couldn’t wait to get started. I played cello throughout elementary and middle school. In high school, I often found myself listening to the performance pieces at home, and that led me to exploring other genres of music. The more I listened and played, the better my ears developed musically. It was really enjoyable to get better at my instrument as I progressed through high school. Last year, I even felt confident enough to join my school’s marching band and learn how to play the marimba. I picked up marimba quickly, because it is very similar to a piano and I had piano lessons in middle school. My everyday life could have been better without hearing loss, because basic things like meal conversations, listening to teachers talk, and even interacting with friends was hard. Sometimes I would miss things they said and be too scared to ask them to repeat it. Even if I had annoying moments in those situations, music was always something I could count on. I was pretty proud of myself for making it this far in my music career with atypical hearing. One day I realized something crazy: whenever I played a note on my cello, or even my piano at home, I could process and save that sound in my head. Then later when listening to music, the sounds I heard actually translated into notes that I recognized. For example when listening to a new piece of music, I would hear a violin play the note, A. Somehow, I would know that that pitch was an A and the same with all of the other pitches that I could hear or remember. If I could process sounds into musical pitches just from hearing them, I realized I unlocked a new power in myself. When listening to a pop song, I could hear the notes of the bassline or the introductory chords. Using this knowledge, I would figure out the key of the piece really quickly by humming the notes back to myself. Once I knew all of that, I could play the parts I heard on a piano. For example, Coldplay’s “Viva La Vida” was a piece I heard and played by myself on my cello and piano without sheet music. I have spent a lot of time messing around on pianos just playing iconic small parts of famous songs from memory. Any other person would hear a song and maybe remember a rhythm that stood out, or a funny lyric. I go in supercomputer mode and within a few moments of listening, I can figure out the chord progression and type of rhythm used, and put that all together to play an excerpt of the music that I remember. Soon, I had my friends playing random notes on their instruments and I would tell them what that note was without looking. Besides showcasing this ability for my friends, I found it so amazing to bypass using sheet music if it wasn’t available. I could just hear what I wanted to play and then I could. Sometimes I would just make my own arrangement of the music from what I heard to try and match the actual score. I never let my hearing loss stop me from progressing at any point especially with this unique ability of mine. Now in my final stage of high school, I am very excited to continue my passion for music in my future. Jimmy Scherer
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