Impact Stories

The Way I See It: Baron Smith

We introduce this series to allow our writers to share their experiences and stories with you. Each one will offer a different perspective of the phrase, “The way I see it.” Throughout his life, Baron faced challenges and needed to adapt to overcome those challenges. Baron channeled his love of music into creating the life he wanted, even with his vision loss.

As long as I can remember, I have been fascinated with music, radio, and entertainment. This fascination drives me to strive toward my dreams. No path is easy for the majority of humankind, and we face even more challenges when dealing with circumstances beyond our control.

At age six, my music journey began with the guitar. I desired to play this after attending countless church events and concerts. After my parents realized my blossoming love for music, I started taking music lessons. I noticed I possessed an ear for music that could circumvent some of my visual shortcomings.

I was born with cataracts, which were removed at age two via corneal transplants. The procedure was beneficial but resulted in me having glaucoma. This was new to my parents as they had no known history of vision impairments on either side of the family. After several surgeries in my first six years of life, I developed the ability to adjust to living with my condition. My family didn’t treat me differently than my sister or cousins. Aside from having eye doctor appointments and taking eye drops, I was a typical active kid.

Being treated like everyone else at home boosted my confidence. However, people at school saw me in a different light. Others teased me because of my thick glasses, my nearsightedness, and the need for large print materials. I learned to adapt, and music helped me navigate the adjustment periods.

Eventually, I became interested in the violin and piano. I played percussion in the high school marching band. I think this was a way to channel my desire to be viewed as “normal” while also doing something I love.

However, on a few occasions, I still had to prove myself. While it’s not a requirement, most music educational programs highlight the ability to read music. It gets more complex as you age, and “sight reading” is emphasized. Again, I had to overcome adversity. I needed my music very close to me to see it. I asked teachers for musical pieces earlier so I could memorize them.

I could not always get the music in advance. This pushed me to improve my ability to learn music on the spot, which eventually worked in my favor. After graduating from high school, I received multiple band and orchestra college scholarship offers.

Participating in the arts helped me develop many skills I use in adulthood. The discipline needed to learn and become proficient enough to play an instrument lends itself to a mindset of determination. In addition to memorizing music, performing gave me a sense of pride in my work. I used the same memorization techniques by simply hearing my part to a song or drum cadence and performing them accordingly. I can retain information by sheer observation or hearing. This has been very useful as I have worked in sales for most of my career. Active listening is a crucial component to success in that field.

At a young age, I decided I would not let my lack of vision determine how I govern myself. My love for music–specifically hip hop–helped me work hard to start my own media company. The company is my pride and joy because it’s a testament to my will to create my own destiny.

For those searching for assistance in adaptive or assistive technology, support groups, activities, and more, contact Outlook Enrichment today!

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