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He didn't want to quit band. So his teacher helped figure out a way to keep him playing.

A dedicated band director refuses to leave a student behind.

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Ethan Och loved playing drums in his high school band. But then he decided to quit.

Playing with the band was something Ethan loved to do, but he knew he was starting to lag behind his classmates. And it simply wasn't possible for him to keep up.

All images via USA Today.


As a student with spinal muscular atrophy, Ethan thought he had tried everything to stay on track with the rest of the band. He switched to lighter aluminum drumsticks, and he even had the sticks velcroed to his wrists, but his body was simply making it impossible to play — or so he thought.

As a student with spinal muscular atrophy, Ethan thought he had tried everything to stay on track with the rest of the band.

So he went to his band teacher and said, "I really hate to do this, but I have to quit band."

His band teacher was not about to let that happen.

USA Today reports that Ethan's band teacher Gina Christopherson would not take "no" for an answer. She knew how much Ethan loved the band, and she simply refused to let him quit.

Instead, she downloaded an app — or, rather, 75 of them — to find Ethan a new kind of drum set.

Now Ethan plays an instrument like everybody else in the band — just in a different form.

Ethan's new instrument is an iPad that's hooked up to an amplifier. He uses it in practice, at the basketball games, and he even played in the marching band with the amplifier hooked up to a car battery that was pushed next to him in a stroller.

"He's part of the team. You don't leave somebody behind."

Gina Christopherson doesn't think she went above and beyond her duties as band director. She simply sees Ethan as any other band member with an instrument that's all his own. It shows how technology is providing new and awesome ways to make the world more inclusive than ever.

Check out USA Today's video about Ethan, the iPad, and Gina — who may just be the greatest band director I've ever heard of.

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