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High school percussionist finds a way to follow his passion despite severely burned arms

“Jesus is those once in a generation students,” said assistant band director Andrew Vowell. “The solo he plays is almost a graduate level piece.”

GALVESTON, Texas — Jesus Salinas is one talented percussionist. The Galveston Ball High School student is sharing his story with the hope that it might inspire someone to figure out a way to give their passion life.

“I love music,” said the junior classmen. “You kind of get a sense of like tunnel vision. And it’s just the keyboard and you. The mallets. And it’s just a sense of peace.”

Peacefulness is what Salinas says he feels while playing music. An opportunity he seized because, “mom did a very good job raising me.”

Salinas says his body was severely burned by fire when he was just a baby. He’s survived a number of surgeries, but lost his fingers and one entire hand. He is aware of his capabilities. He’s not afraid to ask for help. But, he’s also not afraid to take risks, because of lessons his mom taught him. He says she, “pushed me to be independent,” which is why he joined band in middle school.

“I used a prosthetic back then. It was kind of heavier and it just had one mallet. It wasn’t very functional,” said Salinas. So upon entering his freshman year of high school, he quit band.

But assistant band director Andrew Vowell believes, “music’s for everybody.” So when Salinas approached Vowell about giving band one more shot, “we started experimenting,” with ways Vowell could help the teen hold a pair of mallets.

The two decided on sweatbands. Salinas wears two of them on his left arm. “That’s all I need. Instead of a prosthetic.”

“Jesus is those once in a generation students,” said Vowell. “The solo he plays is almost a graduate level piece.”

Teenager Jesus Salinas has found his rhythm. Within it, the sounds of challenge and accomplishment, “just give me time. I’ll figure it out.”

His story is a song rich in persistence and ability. “No matter what, you can do anything,” preached Vowell.

“I try really not to focus on my past,” said Salinas. “I kind of like focusing more on the future.”

A high school musician who is living proof the best melodies come from within.

“You have to have the desire to go out and do something. You can’t just wait for change to come to you,” said Salinas. “You have to create the change.”

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