I heard these words a lot this past weekend.
That’s because the NLS Music Section made its way to the NAfME (National Association for Music Education) conference in Grapevine, TX. While there, I was able to promote our service to music teachers from all over the country—and some future music teachers too!
The refrain I kept hearing over and over was “Wow! What a great service!” Many teachers either discussed theirs or a colleague’s experience teaching music to visually impaired students, or talked about how they wished they had known this program existed a few years ago when they had taught a visually impaired student. Others did not have experience teaching visually impaired students, but were thankful that a resource like the NLS Music Section exists.
One of the more popular resources I had brought along was a re-print of an article from a few years ago called “Resources for Helping Blind Music Students” by Mary A. Smaligo. This article discusses the avenues and options music teachers have to ensure that visually impaired students can access music materials as easily as any sighted student.
Another popular and new resource is our bibliography of method books in braille and large print. Although not available ready to be sent out as of today, if you are interested in this resource we can email you the list for a specific instrument. This publication is great for teachers who would like to see what is available for their students to use.
Many teachers were also interested in the large print music collection, remarking on how big the print is (and how much page turning would be required). I simply replied that our patrons are so happy to be receiving music they can use that they are not focusing on the page turns!
I also was able to correct some misconceptions about what braille music really is. Many teachers assumed it would be a tactile raised graphic of what is on the print page. I explained that music braille is a code—much like print music. Each braille symbol tells the reader something about the music, just like a p for piano and a number sign (#) for a sharp represent a bit of musical information to sighted folks.
Over all, we were able to spread the word to more musicians and teachers about our wonderful (and free!) service. Hopefully we will be talking to some more teachers in the future.