Inside the Story: A Utah band director hides the fact he can't fully hear the music


(KUTV) A high school music teacher has accomplished an amazing task. He's directing an award-winning band without being able to fully hear the music.

Jacob Bradshaw, 33, is a band director at West Jordan High School. Music has been a part of his life since he was born.

"I did grow up in a house full of music. My parents owned and operated a live theater in California," Bradshaw said. "I fell in love with music from my mother, and being in that environment a lot."

Bradshaw's specialty is the drums, which he is called upon to play for a variety of outside performances. He also plays several other instruments.

He also directs an award-winning high school band and has a college music degree. And, he is partially deaf in his right ear.

Bradshaw is a little amazed at what he's been able to accomplish while being partially deaf.

"I just didn't know I had a limitation," he said. "It shows that if you are really in love or passionate about something, you can make it work."

His hearing loss has been with him as long as he can remember. Growing up, he just always favored his left ear and didn't think anything about it.

It wasn't until he tried to enlist in the Navy that he realized how bad it was.

"I underwent all their physical tests at MEPS and discovered I had significant hearing loss in my right ear and I had just kind of adapted to it for my whole life."

Bradshaw told no one about his hearing loss, from college professors to school administrators to his students.

"I worried people would see it as a limitation instead of seeing me as a musician, which is what I always wanted to be," he said. "I didn't want to be perceived as having any handicap and I wanted to make it on my own."

Now that he's proven himself, Bradshaw had major surgery to reconstruct his right ear drum. Turns out, it was much worse than he and doctors originally thought.

"They discovered that all three of the inner bones had deteriorated past the point of use," he explained. "The doctor was surprised I did music for a living."

With a new implant, Bradshaw has to wear studio headphones occasionally because he's still adapting to all the extra sounds he is hearing.

"There's a lot of volume. A lot of volume I didn't quite notice before," he said.

But, it's a volume he's learning to truly enjoy.

"Going from this black and white sort of feel, to everything is in color is really, really amazing," Bradshaw said. "It's a beautiful thing for me. All of a sudden, it's surround sound."

Bradshaw said one of his greatest experiences after the surgery was directing Brigham Young University's top wind ensemble during a performance. That's when he truly heard all the sounds he was missing.

His right ear is still healing and is expected to continue to adjust.