Overcoming ‘can’t’: Albertville High School band member with hearing loss is defying odds

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ALBERTVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) --  A Marshall County teen is overcoming the word 'can't' and following a passion by doing something some people said shouldn't and couldn't happen.

On a rainy Monday cars slowly slosh past a sign with the words "Albertville High School" boldly written beside an entrance to the memorable architecture that is the school.

Inside, the hallways are quiet. School hasn't let out for the day.

The band room is lit up brightly, and the faint taps of a student practicing drums with his fingertips echo in the big space.

A white board has the words "welcome back" splashed against its bland background. Chairs are scattered throughout the room in an unorganized fashion. Trophies line the walls, along with Rose Bowl memorabilia and awards.

The bell signaling the end of the school day rips through the silence. Then, the sound of dozens of students descending on the quiet space creates a cacophony only quieted by Director of Bands Chris Lindley calling for the Albertville High School Aggie Band to settle down - one could measure up that task to herding cats.

Within minutes the haphazard chairs are neatly lined up, a student assigned to each one. The black and white pages of music are settled in black stands, fingers grip instruments.

All eyes wait expectantly for the command to start.

In the back, a young lady waits too. She's standing alone; her title is one she doesn't share with anyone else in the band. "My name is Ragan Galloway, I'm 17 years old and I'm the bass guitarist for the Albertville High School Band."

As the music starts, Ragan looks across the room, her fingers rapidly moving up and down her instrument.

She's doing something her parents have been told she can't.

"She was born with a syndrome that mainly affects her hearing, the bones in her face, and doctors at that time gave us a whole list of things she wouldn't be able to do because of her hearing," explains Ragan's dad Barry Galloway.

Galloway says that list of 'can'ts' included going to public school, feeding herself, and most certainly not playing music by ear as Albertville High School Band's only bass guitarist.

"At six Children's Hospital performed a surgery, giving her a BAHA - a Bone Anchored Hearing Apparatus, which is similar to a cochlear," Galloway explains.

But the A/B student only has one. "It's a moderate hearing loss," Galloway says, "When she removes the hearing aid, basically she hears nothing."

The soft-spoken and quiet senior loves music, but some music teachers said they would not be able to teach her.

Ragan learned anyway.

Director of Bands Chris Lindley knew when he met Ragan several years ago there was something special there. "I asked her to play for me a little bit and she started to play and I thought 'this girl has some serious talent.'"

"She's proven everybody wrong," Galloway says, "It shows if you've ever been told you can't do something, Ragan's proved that you can. She's been told she couldn't be able to do any of this, and here she is about to graduate this year, and playing for a high school band, something that really she shouldn't be able to do but she's doing it."

As for Ragan, music is something she simply loves. "Its's a way to express myself," she says.

Ragan will take the field with the rest of the Aggie Band Friday night at the school's first game of the season.