“I play faster than I should. But yeah, faster songs are more fun.” 9th grader at Denver Online High School Christopher Hice said. But when asked to choose a favorite genre, he said, “I don’t pick favorites that much. Favorite questions, I just draw a blank on.” He just can’t choose.
Hice picked up music when he was five. “I don’t remember if it was my grandfather or someone else, but someone in our family had a piano and I just hit it a lot. So then I started taking lessons.”
The teen recently started playing with School of Rock in Denver, both piano and guitar.
“Right now we’re doing a Prague rock, which is probably going to be sometime in May.”
However, the fourteen-year-old reads music slightly different than most.
“I normally have the music sheets enlarged, and then I put them on, we put them on, like a poster board sort of thing, like cardboard or something. And then I just put them in between the keys and my piano.”
Hice was born completely blind in his right eye, with minimal sight in his left.
“So it’s 2,200 in my left eye and nothing I guess in my right eye.”
“I don’t pay attention to the sheet music after I’ve already learned it. I kind of just play it.”
While he hasn’t had any shows playing guitar yet, he’s performed with the band playing piano a handful of times, including playing a recent gig at Herman’s Hideaway.
“That was my third. That was my third with School of Rock. That was like my, I lost count, just playing for people.”
When on stage, he said, “I mostly just focus on the keyboard that’s right below me. So I don’t really look at the audience that much,” a mannerism that he also brings to school.
“I won’t see if anyone’s gesturing or I won’t think to make eye contact because eye contact is pointless—I can’t see your eyes. I can’t see your face. I can’t see facial expressions. So my head’s just kind of down all the time.”
Hice transitioned out of a conventional brick and mortar school because the traditional format simply did not fit his needs.
“Looking at a whiteboard, it depends on where I’m sitting, but even up close I could probably not make out what’s on the top opposite corner of the white board where I’m sitting. I would either have to be ten inches from, and in the center of the white board, or it’s almost impossible to do.”
Therefore, he made the switch to Denver Online, allowing him to zoom in on his screen to enlarge the font, take breaks when he needed, and to work in an environment where, “I wasn’t as likely to smash into someone.”
“To put it short, living at school is a lot easier than going to school. I have a more flexible schedule to where, if I need to stop for fifteen minutes or a half an hour or something, I can.”
And he’s also found a place where people seem to better understand the nuances of his mannerisms.
“My teachers pay attention, where they didn’t last time,” he compared Denver Online to his previous school. “Where my last school’s teacher, teachers, didn’t really, umm, pay much attention, they just kind of went to every other kid, [because] I didn’t say anything. I probably have missing assignments since fourth grade. I’m serious; I probably do.”
“Switching between schools was a little difficult because I went from a school where I didn’t pay attention and my teachers didn’t really pay attention to me not paying attention, to trying to get everything done on time.”
Now, he’s more accountable to staying up on his coursework.
“At Denver Online, I’m like a few days behind at most a week or two and then I get caught up.”
“I can’t answer favorite questions. [Because] I don’t choose favorites that much.”
Just like Hice, Denver Online doesn’t pick favorites either. But just like music, some songs and some students are just special and inspire us in unique ways, offering a new perspective.