I have always considered the NLS Music Section’s home base in Washington D.C. as a very fine perk of my job. There are numerous opportunities for concerts with great venues such as Kennedy Center, the Strathmore, our own home at the Library of Congress and (according to me) the jewel in the crown of museums, the Smithsonian Institution.
But perhaps a down side of that perk is we are only available for consultation by telephone and e-mail. There are two or three conferences we attend on a yearly basis that enable us to reach out to the public in person, and take our show on the road. We meet with teachers and parents, other music librarians and braille transcribers at their annual conferences.
At the time of this blog posting, I should be in attendance at one of the largest music education events in the nation, the 2015 Texas Music Educators Association deep in the heart of Texas, beautiful San Antonio.
This conference hosts more than 26,000 music educators not only from the southwestern U.S., but teachers and colleges beyond the border of the Lone Star State. I am able to speak directly to young teachers who have low vision/blind students in their class for the first time, or are private piano instructors and seeking resources to music materials. The response I hear, and find extremely gratifying is “I’m so GLAD I found you!” There is nothing like that face-to-face contact with someone to answer their questions right away, and provide information about our services.
The Music Library Association (MLA) is another yearly event for the Music Section. While not having such a large number in attendance as TMEA, there are some very important connections made by the Music Section at this conference. Materials for the collection are discovered, such as the Master Class Media Foundation series. Other relationships are initiated and our patrons are the beneficiaries. For example, Singer’s Babel is a small company that provides professionally done diction guides to vocal music, especially classical. As vendors check out other vendors, everyone can shop for their audience.
And knowing that sometimes the best results come from collaboration, NLS Music Section has made an appearance at the National Braille Association conference and learned of new developments directly from the transcribers themselves, along with other news. This is a group of certified professional transcribers, and they are frequently contracted by the Music Section for individual projects, (like the recent Norton Anthology, volume 3, BRM 36037) and other scores that can be added to the collection. At times, a new format and updated version of a score will be commissioned for our patrons. In a cyber-sense, we’re hearing the same phrase as from our long-distance patrons, “I’m so glad I found this!” borne out by the number of downloads BARD (Braille Audio Reading Download) provides.
I’m in agreement with Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz when she says “there’s no place like home,” but I can also sing the Doobie Brothers song, sometimes it’s necessary for the music section to get out there and start “Takin’ it to the Streets.”