The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

For NW student, music has never sounded so sweet

By Joshua knopp/entertainment editor

Not even Beethoven could have begun studying music after going deaf.

While the legendary composer studied music all his life and retained his knowledge of it after losing his hearing, NW student Cary Terry went on a different path to music.

Terry graduated from the University of Central Oklahoma in 1993 with a bachelor’s in graphic design. He worked at various advertising agencies, even opening his own freelance design firm, until he began to go deaf in his mid-20s. By age 30, he could barely use his left ear with a hearing aid, and his right ear was completely useless.

“I had to adapt everything in my life to being deaf,” Terry said.

Closed captions were put on his TV. He could still use the phone if it was on speaker and held close to his hearing aid.

More importantly, though, Terry was less able to communicate with his family and co-workers.

“I changed my personality,” Terry said. “I was an extrovert. I became an introvert because I couldn’t talk to people.”

Terry decided to learn to play classical guitar in January 2009. He couldn’t listen to more complex music or radio, but if everything else was quiet, he could hear the bare notes of classical guitar.

“I know it’s late in life to change,” said Terry, who was 41 at the time, but he took on the challenge anyway.

A month later, Terry discovered the music of Andres Segovia, considered one of the 20th century’s greatest guitarists and a key founder of classical guitar.

“I was astonished,” Terry said. “[I was] motivated because of how beautiful it was [and] discouraged because I thought, ‘I’ll never be able to play like that.’”

That November, Terry finally got his hearing back — by way of cochlear implants.

Evette Brazzile, the director of disability support services on NW Campus, said that a cochlear implant is “a device that is used to bypass the damaged portion of the ear and directly stimulate the [auditory nerve] and allows the person who is hard of hearing to be able to sense sounds.”

Brazzile said that she doesn’t have much information on students with cochlear implants in her office because most of them no longer need support for their disability. Most deaf students she sees have to get by with the regular services for the hard of hearing — sign language interpreters, CART [captioning at real time] or dedicated note-takers.

Terry first heard about cochlear implants in the news about 10 years ago. He asked about them when getting his hearing aids and learned a little more each time he went to his doctor. It took him until November 2009 to get them installed and activated, but the results were astonishing.

“It was like a miracle,” Terry said. “I could hear everything!”

Terry has been taking private lessons since spring from Michael Dailey, an adjunct on NW Campus who, as it happens, is a former student of Segovia.

“I had a few lessons with him,” Dailey said about Segovia, who was in his 80s and was already a living legend when Dailey worked with him. Though Dailey did not have many lessons with him, they were enough to make an impression.

Dailey says there aren’t really any differences between Terry and a regular student.

“The one thing different between him and a regular student is his level of enthusiasm,” Dailey said. “He’s like a kid in a candy shop.”

Now, Terry is moving toward an associate of arts with a music field of study, which he hopes to reach in 2012.

“Now that I have received my cochlear implant, what was impossible is now a reality. I can hear!” he said.

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