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It’s All -Gci1g (Grieg) to Me: American Braille, Part I

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“I can’t read this braille at all,” a coworker says to me one morning; “What does it say?”

Moving my hand over the dots, I am reminded of an incident from childhood.
My piano teacher had just handed me Rondo Capriccioso, Op. 14. I had never heard of this piece (by Mendelssohn), so I checked the first line of braille, and read:

-ce+de -ja%cijjieke’ -e%- #ad-braille 2

If I couldn’t read the words, I thought, how could I ever read the music? I went down to the music; fortunately, it was readable. But the text portions remained a mystery for some time.

“This is American Braille,” I now tell my coworker, “a system that was used in the early years of the 20th century. When I started working here in 2009, I received a list of the American Braille signs to help me when material like this comes along.”

Using that chart, I figure out that

-humec1kr1′ <> -1dvacd -gci1g-braille 3

is Humoreske, by Edvard Grieg.

The name Grieg


Braille 1

also appears in the title of this blog.

Since that morning, other American Braille scores have been found in the Music Section. This means that, if you are a braille music reader, you could have a shock like I did when you open a package from us, but can’t tell what we sent you. This is why I decided to write a blog about American Braille. If your curiosity has been aroused, then you will want to read more in Part II.


  1. I am a personal-paraprofessional to a beautiful young lady who jyst happens tho be Chinese and blind, in a sighted school. She was adopted in January of 2016 and came to me 3 weeks later. During that 3 week span, she touched her first piano and fell in love. The first piece she learned, and performed that March, was the “Entertainer.” She is taking lessons from a wonderful, sighted piano teacher who is teaching her how to play by ear.

    My wish for her would be that she could learn to play by notes. We’re doing what we can in music class on Friday’s, but our methods are trial and error art best. Hoping it would spark her desire to learn braille music and hoping to thrill her, I would love to find a brailled copy of the Entertainer to give her for her 12th birthday on February 18. Is there any information you could share or would you have a youth copy of the piece?

    I’m completely unsure of how tho do this for her.

    Thank you in advance for any help you can offer.

    Cindy Gann

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