BY MELANIE BUCK –
Dreams really do come true. If you don’t believe that, then ask Dalton Lane, an extremely talented senior at Acorn High School, who has overcome more adversity in his young nineteen years than most do in decades.
Dalton was born blind, but with his upbeat attitude, you can’t tell that it has ever affected him. His personality shines bright and the students that surround him seem to love him and dote on him like siblings. Not only is Dalton completely blind, he’s also deaf in one ear. And with all of that, he has a quality that some strive to achieve their whole lives, and it just comes naturally to him… perfect pitch. For those that don’t know what that means, perfect pitch is “a rare auditory phenomenon characterized by the ability of a person to identify or re-create a given musical note without the benefit of a reference tone.” Another way to put it is, he plays ‘by ear.’
Any note Dalton hears, he can reproduce on a variety of instruments, or by using his voice. While practicing for their Christmas Choir Concert, his teacher, Valerie Couch, said, “Dalton, give us a B-sharp,” and he belted it out without a thought.
His love of music came early in life. “When I was little, I had a small model guitar and I would play it until my fingers would bleed,” said Dalton. “I wouldn’t know my fingers were bleeding and they would take the guitar away.” He knew from the beginning that he had perfect pitch and said, “music is my way of escaping into my own world.”
In school, Dalton is not only part of the choir, he is also in band. One of his dreams was to play in a marching band and play the sousaphone. “Thanks to Mr. Charles Morgan [Mena High School Band Instructor], I got to play a sousaphone for the first time last year. I marched with it in the parade last year and this year,” smiled Dalton. He described a sousaphone as a ‘very heavy tuba that weighs about 40 pounds. In Mena’s Christmas Parade of Lights, Dalton was one of more than 170 students from around the county that marched, something most blind students would never dream of being able to accomplish. He was escorted by Mrs. Couch and fellow band student, Kaylea Shuey, through the streets as he played and marched. “She has helped with him a lot. She plays bass guitar so they are on the ‘low notes’ together. Kaylea has also spent a lot of time helping him get to his classes and such,” said Couch.
Dalton admitted he has loved the sousaphone since he first saw one and passionately described when that love first surfaced. “We had an old fiberglass one that had never really been played. I was in awe of how the horn felt and looked.” He also loves to play the piano accordion, especially around Christmas time. “Every year, I drag out my accordion and play Christmas Carols. I love Christmas Carols.”
To be able to overcome the adversity laid upon him, encouragement was definitely needed. Dalton said his mother is his biggest source of encouragement. “She always tells me I can do it. No matter how bad a day I am having, she always pulls me back on my feet.” To encourage others that face adversity, Dalton said, “Keep practicing. Don’t ever let troubles get in your way. Don’t let someone know you’re down. Get back up on your feet and try again.”
Dalton will graduate from Acorn High School in the Spring with classmates he has been with since the second grade. Looking forward to what the future holds, he will first go to rehab services and the Louisiana Center for the Blind. There, he will be able to take college classes, learn life skills, and receive job training. He hopes to major in media broadcasting. He will get his first taste of broadcasting life when he joins Mark Hobson on the Mena Morning Show on KENA 104.1FM one day next week. When he heard the news of being invited as a co-host, his excitement was uncontainable. Be sure to tune in to hear details of what day and time he will co-host.