Hearing impairments won't stop these 3 marching band members
Ashley Ledezma, Cambell Wilson and Grace Meacham play and twirl with the Edison High School marching band, despite hearing impairments.
Edison High School students Ashley Ledezma and Cambell Wilson at marching band practice
Ashley Ledezma is holding a flute and a roll of neon pink duct tape as she discusses formations and movements of the Edison High School marching band.
“We form a shape and then do sets and movements that make one big show,” explains the senior. Using the pink tape on the football field helps her memorize the steps in practice.
Unlike the rest of the band members, Ledezma deals with more challenges than simply memorizing notes and where to walk.
She suddenly lost most of her hearing at age 5 during a lengthy battle with pneumonia. She picked up a flute in sixth grade as a way to fit in with her classmates. She couldn’t hear the high notes, but played them from memorization.
Upon entering high school, she signed up for marching band. “Freshman year was a lot of ‘just keep going,’” says Ledezma, who also has vision impairments, including no peripheral vision. “I had to remind myself that the more experience I have, the easier it is.”
The following year she got cochlear implants, which changed everything. “I was shocked,” she says. “I could hear all the high notes and other things I’d never heard before, like the AC and the humming from the lights. I was most excited to go outside. Finally I can hear the birds.”
Ledezma isn’t the only student on the field who’s hard of hearing. Sophomore Cambell Wilson and junior Grace Meacham are members of the Screamin’ Eagles color guard.
Her first year, Wilson — who has congenital hearing loss — says she was frustrated because she was always a half-step behind. It’s a result of her brain taking a second longer to process sounds picked up by her hearing aids.
This summer she, too, got cochlear implants and now finds herself twirling her flags and stepping in sync with the others.
Wilson says she felt inspired and motivated by upperclassmen Ledezma and Meacham, and that made it all easier for her.
“It was nice to know I wasn’t the only one doing it,” Wilson says. “We’re all in this together. When you’re a part of the band, it’s like we’re a big family and a support group for each other no matter what we’re going through.”