Shane Dittmar

Eamon Queeney

“If a picture is worth a thousand words, then music must be more than that because it has so many layers.” —Shane Dittmar, music composer and teacher

Whether he’s composing, playing, or directing, Shane Dittmar often gets lost in the music. It’s his passion, his art form, and his job. Born with a rare genetic eye condition, leber congenital amaurosis, Dittmar is legally blind. Considered a setback by many, Dittmar has barely skipped a beat. One of his earliest memories is receiving a keyboard for Christmas, and his love of music has only grown since. He sang in church choir, joined the middle school band, and later performed in choir and theater at Sanderson High School. Dittmar began composing songs when he played in a band with his brother and friends. Now, his compositions have been performed by choral groups around the world—from his own high school and the N.C. Chorale Chamber to a choir in Nairobi, Kenya.

“It’s an art form that’s entirely accessible to me,” Dittmar says of experiencing and performing music. While his challenge may be reading sheet music, he recognizes that others must overcome their own challenges in order to perform at a level of professionalism. “No one gets to the point I did without working hard,” he says.

Dittmar graduated last spring from UNC-Greensboro with a degree in music education. He immediately got to work, as the musical director for Raleigh Little Theatre’s Teens on Stage production of Into the Woods. This fall, he will begin working full-time as a music teacher at the Washington State School for the Blind. Dittmar says he hopes to use the challenges he faced to help his students become successful faster. “I’m an educator and an advocate for people with disabilities. I want everyone to have the chance to have the thing that has been so fulfilling to me.”
—Samantha Gratton