Music key to academic turn around

RSHS senior: Music ‘plays a part in every little aspect of my day’ 

Photo by Caleb Neeley | WRSH 91.1 FM MaKayla Bacon, right, talks with Kevin Spradlin of The Pee Dee Post on Friday at the weekly 11:30 a.m. broadcast. Bacon spoke about how important  music has been to turning around her academic career. She's used the trumpet as a catalyst not only to become an honor student; music also has inspired a career. Caleb Neeley and Tony Hogan served as station engineers during the five-minute segment.

Photo by Caleb Neeley | WRSH 91.1 FM
MaKayla Bacon, right, talks with Kevin Spradlin of The Pee Dee Post on Friday at the weekly 11:30 a.m. broadcast. Bacon spoke about how important music has been to turning around her academic career. She’s used the trumpet as a catalyst not only to become an honor student; music also has inspired a career. Caleb Neeley and Tony Hogan served as station engineers during the five-minute segment.

By Kevin Spradlin
PeeDeePost.com

Some parents might see a child’s exclusive interest in a single activity such as band as part of a problem. For MaKayla Bacon, music has been part of the solution.

Since she first picked up the trumpet as a fifth-grader and began receiving formal instruction at Rohanen Middle School, the 17-year-old senior at Richmond Senior High School is only a few months away from graduating with honors. This is in stark contrast from where she was positioned academically only seven years ago. Then, she was struggling just to get by.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com MaKayla Bacon has used her trumpet to play Taps at several military-related ceremonies. She plays in honor of her grandfather, Laurence H. Oliver Sr., a retired Navy man.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
MaKayla Bacon has used her trumpet to play Taps at several military-related ceremonies. She plays in honor of her grandfather, Laurence H. Oliver Sr., a retired Navy man.

“I went from failing almost every class to passing with As and Bs,” Bacon said.

Without music, “I’m kind of scared to know where I’d be.”

Beginning next fall, Bacon plans to pursue the study of music therapy in college and hopes to inspire other young musicians — even if they haven’t yet heard a single note. Bacon and her mother, Melanie Clark, said music has helped in everything from anger management to learning disabilities, including dyslexia.

When Bacon was only 9 months old, Clark said her daughter was being treated with a series of antibiotics that she believes “stripped (Bacon’s) system of good bacteria.”

The result? Clark said her baby couldn’t keep food down. The first doctor was treating “just a stomach bug” for nearly two months. Within two days of changing doctors, Clark said they had a new diagnosis: colitis. Colitis is an inflammation of the inner lining of the colon that can cause, among other things, severe abdominal pain.

With the new diagnosis, Clark was ready to focus on how to get Bacon feeling better. The doctor, however, said the baby wasn’t ready for that.

“This baby has to make it through the night,” Clark recalled being told. “That’s how sick she was.”

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com MaKayla Bacon said her No. 1 supporter and cheerleader has always been her mom, Melanie Clark. Here, the two walk down the 50-yard-line two weeks ago during Senior Night at Raider Stadium.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
MaKayla Bacon said her No. 1 supporter and cheerleader has always been her mom, Melanie Clark. Here, the two walk down the 50-yard-line two weeks ago during Senior Night at Raider Stadium.

Not being able to keep food down, Bacon was labeled as malnourished.

“Anything we introduced any type of food other than Pedialyte, she got sick again,” Clark said. “She really scared us.”

Clark said she believes that’s what led to her daughter’s learning disabilities. Up until the fifth grade, it seemed the learning disabilities and struggles that a young girl routinely faces at that age were winning over the hope of a normal life. Then Bacon picked up a trumpet.

“We saw a difference” right away,” Clark said. “Night and day, between what she was able to comprehend. This child would sit down and read a book for the first time ever.”

Her first book series completed was Ellen Schreiber’s “Vampire Kisses,” borrowed from her sister. She hasn’t stopped reading since.

Bacon said she’s not sure whether or not her earlier medical condition led to her learning disabilities. She acknowledged that, up until the trumpet, “I never really had a hobby.”

The fear of having the trumpet taken away if she didn’t keep her grades up might have been the cause of her academic turnaround. Regardless, the golden trumpet was key no matter how you look at it, she said.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com

“Honestly, without music, if it was never introduced to me, I would probably be failing,” Bacon said. “I would have no desire to stick with school. I was struggling so hard, I was ready to give up. Not only has it helped me with school … I have a really bad temper. I’ve learned, if I get really mad at someone or something, I turn to music. It’s gotten me out of a lot of situations that would have ended me possibly in (alternative school).”

Bacon said not many know of her academic struggles in the past, nor of her coping mechanisms used today — whether it be music or color-coded notes in math class.

“Before music was introduced to me, I have several acquaintances … but I had only one or two close friends,” Bacon said, “who knew about my learning disability. I was always afraid I was going to get picked on and that people would look at me different.”

Now, though, Bacon stands apart for her complete devotion to music as a member of the Richmond Raiders Marching Band. She aspires to take that dedication to help inspire young people as a career.

After college, she hopes to help “make it clear that they can set their mind to one thing,” Bacon said, “and overcome … to show them that there is hope.”

Filed in: Arts & Entertainment, Education, Featured News, Latest Headlines, News

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