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As a musical direction, “tutti” means everyone, all voices, not just the sopranos, or the bass soloist, who just finished an aria.

A musical work often requires many participants, as do many human endeavors.

I recently blogged here about participating in a meeting with braille music transcribers. I observed how they consulted each other on many aspects of their work as transcribers, especially, of course, the problems, from software issues to interpreting a print score feature in a clear and readable way. They helped and inspired each other. Real collaboration.

Another form of working together is in a big meeting, with committees, minutes and reports.

Uh, well, maybe not. But, between those meetings and reports there are coffee breaks and receptions and other casual gatherings where like-minded people gather and freely share ideas about their work, unfettered by formal structures.

One such gathering occurred a few weeks ago when a group of us from NLS assisted in a tour of the U.S. capitol for delegates to the International Council on English Braille that was holding its 6th General Assembly in nearby Baltimore, Maryland.

The International Council on English Braille (ICEB) coordinates and improves standards for braille usage for all English-speaking users of braille. Current representatives come from Australia, Canada, Ireland, Nigeria, New Zealand, South Africa, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Now, you need to know that these delegates are also united by another international language: music! — especially braille music.

The ICEB has a music committee. And like a good committee it produces reports.

The chair of the Music Committee is Jordy Howell, who works at Vision Australia, a leading national provider of blindness and low vision services where she is a music transcriber and adult braille trainer. But at the ICEB conference she authored the report on music throughout the English speaking braille world. She is a delightful, engaging person from whom we learned a great deal while talking almost non-stop on the tour.

Photo, left to right, of Donna Koh, music reader services librarian, Jordy Howell, Chair, ICEB Music Committee, John Hanson, Head, Music Section

Photo, left to right, of Donna Koh, Jordie Howell, Chair, ICEB Music Committee, and John Hanson, in the U.S. Capitol building.

Later, at a reception in the Madison Building of the Library of Congress, her music report was a catalyst for several conversations around the room. One topic was the scanning of braille music scores. Many countries are doing it or considering it, of course, but James Bowden from the Royal National Institute for the Blind in England said, in effect, yes, yes, you are scanning, but “what is your actual throughput?” How much is actually coming out at the end of the process?  How many pages an hour, or day, or month?  An excellent question and a proper institutional concern.

In a related exchange, Samuel Foulkes, from the Clovernook Center for the Blind in Cincinnati, spoke about software they used for proofing their braille production. This was new and something I need to talk about with him again soon.

These are just a few of the results of what I sometimes think is the best part of any conference: the casual, even accidental, conversations that spring up without agenda.






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