Fuqua bands receive earplugs

Published 3:11 pm Thursday, January 11, 2018

Several dozen students from Fuqua School’s middle school band gathered in the school’s gymnasium for a presentation Wednesday in which members of the Farmville Lions Club and Longwood’s Speech, Hearing and Learning Services (SHLS) donated earplugs to members of Fuqua’s upper school bands and encouraged hearing preservation.

Fuqua is the third school in the Heart of Virginia to receive the specialized earplugs that allow band members to hear the notes they need to play while softening the sounds that can cause the greatest harm to hearing.

The project was headed by Longwood student Meredith Puryear, the SHLS and the Lions Club.

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Prince Edward County Public Schools and Cumberland County Public Schools received earplugs in November and December, respectively.

Dr. Lissa Power-deFur, from SHLS, asked students during the presentation what they think is the loudest instrument in their band.

A few students suggested the trumpet. Power-deFur noted that the trumpet can reach 120 decibels — a measurement for sound — and can cause pain to the listener.

She said people would only need to listen to the trumpet at that decibel level for less than 15 seconds to cause damage to their hearing.

“I’m delighted that our friends in Farmville have made hearing preservation so important,” Power-deFur said.

Power-deFur offered other measures to protect hearing, including using a test in loud environments such as machinery shops or concerts. If someone cannot hear another person who is at arm’s length, she said they should consider wearing earplugs.

Greg Cole, president of the Farmville Lions Club, said he also played in a school band. He said the Lions Club has worked to help people with hearing and sight loss and worked to help prevent sight and hearing loss.

“We see people that were helped that couldn’t see and hear,” Cole said.

He told the students it’s never too early to protect their hearing.

“You want to preserve that,” Cole said.

Camille Rabon, Fuqua band instructor, said she struggled with hearing loss in eighth grade due to multiple ear infections.

She said a surgery at University of Virginia Hospital was able to restore her hearing but that she has noted hearing loss over the years as she has led the bands.

“I want you to think about that,” Rabon said about hearing loss. “If you lose your hearing … there’s no way to fix it.”

She thanked the Lions Club and SHLS representatives for the earplugs.

John Melton, head of Fuqua School, offered a statement about the importance of hearing preservation.

“Our ability to hear is important to us all, and once it is lost, most often it cannot be repaired,” Melton said. “It is such a crucial part of communication, learning, socialization and our everyday lives.”