Local blind musician defies the odds

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"She has amazed us all and is pretty much doing this on her own now."

HAGERSTOWN, Md. (WDVM)– If you’re ever at Maryland’s Institute for Music, you might get a chance to meet a very special musician.

“My dream of playing guitar had to be put on the back burner because I had to learn how to be a blind person,” said Blind Musician Jessie Stine.

Washington County resident, Jessie Stine, was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa when she was 15-years-old and slowly lost her eyesight until she could only see shadows and pieces of light. Now in her 40’s, Stine refuses to let her disability get in the way of her dream.

“I’ve had some very close family members in my life pass away unexpectedly,” said Stine. “It made me realize that life is very precious and too short and I needed to try.” 

Fortunately, Stine met the perfect instructor. Music instructor Justin Parks never taught a blind student before, but together, they’ve learned how to bring her dream to life.

“We just go over basic scales, chord theory, and chord progressions and it just makes learning songs easier, cause whenever I do have to explain something she’ll know exactly what I mean,” said Parks. “At this point, she’s kind of doing everything on her own.”

The dynamic duo figured out how to use tape on the guitar’s neck so Jessie knew what string to play, and she memorizes music since she can’t use sheet music.

“I’ve also had many moments of frustration and that’s when Justin, my wonderful rockstar of a teacher, comes in and says you got this, you’ve done this, it’s ok,” said Stine.

At the end of the day, Stine says she hopes their teamwork inspires others to tackle any dream thought to be impossible.

“I’m very proud of my success just as much as Justin’s. He has a very big challenge of trying to teach me and how to explain things to me,” said Stine.

Jessie has been learning for a year-and-a-half and says she owes all of her success to her rockstar of a teacher, Justin Parks.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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