Difficulties Don’t Stop Vaske


Emily Klostermann

At Swing into Spring, junior Jacob Vaske plays the saxophone.

Emily Klostermann, Contents Editor

Many people faced with hearing loss wouldn’t think about playing an instrument, let alone six instruments.

However, junior Jacob Vaske doesn’t let his hearing loss stop him.

Vaske knows how to play six different instruments, including acoustic guitar, electric guitar, alto saxophone, clarinet, electric bass, and upright bass.

In first grade, Vaske was diagnosed with sensorineural hearing loss. He can’t hear any sounds over 1500 hertz.

When I was young, I really wanted to play guitar, and once I convinced my parents to let me play, I just grew up loving music,” Vaske said. “Then over time I just started picking up more instruments, and I loved music more every time I played.”

Vaske relies on hearing aids to help him hear. In band, Vaske has difficulties hearing any high pitched sounds. He can’t hear instruments like flutes, piccolos, triangles, marimbas, xylophones, chimes, bells, and finger cymbals.

When Vaske is playing the clarinet, the highest note that he can hear is a high C.

“I like to play the notes in a lower octave, so I can hear them to know I am playing them right,” Vaske said.

Vaske also relies on a tuner when learning a new instrument. The tuner helps Vaske figure out how to adjust his mouth on the instrument.

Band students do a lot of tuning with their ears when learning a new instrument, which can be difficult for Vaske at times.

“I play notes with a tuner because the higher I go, the more out of tune I get,” Vaske said. “This helps me learn the correct way to play it and how my mouth should be.”

Fellow band student Tyler Salow (12) said that music is more of feeling to Vaske.

He gets really into the music whenever I see him play the bass,” Salow said. “He really nods his head and moves around.”

Vaske said that he doesn’t compare himself to other band students when learning a new instrument. “It really depends on how hard you are willing to work,” Vaske said

The hardest instrument for Vaske to learn was the upright bass.

To learn the upright bass, Vaske relied on a tuner to memorize where every note is on the neck of the instrument.

“Unlike an electric bass, there are frets for every note,” Vaske said, “and with the upright bass, I have to use my ear to know exactly where a certain note is.”

Vaske tackles learning every instrument differently. Vaske said. “Every instrument I learn I have to use different techniques.”

Band director Mark Philgreen said, “In spite of his hearing loss, Jacob has set goals for himself beyond what most other band students without a hearing loss ever think of trying to achieve.”

In college Vaske plans to participate in jazz band or concert band. He doesn’t plan to major in music, but he plans to minor in it.

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