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Deaf teenager earns music scholarship to college

Autumn Greenlee, 18, says she plays mostly from vibration memory and muscle memory.

WILDWOOD, Mo. — What makes music meaningful isn't how it sounds but how it feels.

No one knows that better than 18-year-old Autumn Greenlee.

"She's very confident in what she's playing and she's always very focused," her friend Pranav Vasishta said.

Tonight, she's trying to go out on a high note, playing with the Lafayette High School Band at her own graduation.

"She's one of those, I'm going to be very sad that she leaves us and goes off and does her thing but I'm excited to see where her future will take her," Lafayette Orchestra Director Joseph Gutkowski said.

Her talent makes her stand out, even though she says, she's spent a lot of time trying to fit in.

"I'm sure when I play my instrument it sounds very different to me than it sounds to somebody else," Autumn told us.

You see, Autumn is deaf. When her parents found out, they were left with many questions.

"Is she going to be able to speak? Is she going to be able to have a job? Is she going to be able to do things that other children do?," her mom Lisa Greenlee remembered.

"I did kind of feel left out and I did feel different, for sure," Autumn said.

After surgery to get a cochlear implant, which gave her a sense of sound, music pulled her in like a magnet. She got her first violin in the third grade.

"So she started to do it and absolutely loved it, and so things just went from there, "mom says.

When she switched from violin to viola, the lower and deeper sounds were like ripples.

"I do play a lot from vibration memory, "Autumn clarifies. "And muscle memory."

And keep in mind, for the most part she's playing the classics.

"I think the first piece of music I learned was Telemann Viola Concerto," Autumn said.

As Autumn closes the book on her high school years, a new chapter is about to begin.

She's been offered a music scholarship at the University of Colorado. Safe to say, she already has a degree in perseverance.

"I'm amazed, to be honest with you, that she has overcome so many challenges." her dad James Greenlee said.

It's said that Beethoven was still composing masterpieces when he went deaf. Who knows what's to come for Autumn Greenlee and who she'll be inspiring?

"I never really saw my hearing impairment as something that would hold me back," she told us.

One young musician who listened to her heart and is now ready to be heard.

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