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American Composers and Musicians from A to Z: (Part 2–Kauflin, Justin and Kern, Kevin)

One of my tasks with the NLS Music Section is to compile articles and reviews about popular music for our patrons. The result is Contemporary Soundtrack, available in audio format on BARD and digital cartridge for our patrons. While browsing Billboard one day, I saw a brief article about Quincy Jones mentoring up-and-coming jazz musicians, and I kept repeating one name (Justin Kauflin, Justin Kauflin). JUSTIN KAUFLIN is one of our patrons! I reported my news to the NLS Music Section supervisor.  We were thrilled about one of the regular users of our braille music collection partnering with a legend. That was the impetus of a concert Mr. Kauflin presented in Coolidge auditorium on October 22, 2014.

Justin Kauflin checks with his guide dog, Candy, during his October 22, 2014 performance in the Coolidge auditorium. Photo by Amanda Reynolds.

He has attracted an impressive following and is still busy with performances. Keep On Keepin’ On, a documentary about his mentor, Clark Terry, had been released earlier that year and was on the short list for an Academy Award nomination for best documentary. Before the concert, NLS Director Karen Keninger and Music Section Head John Hanson interviewed Justin about his education and career, and at his recommendation we acquired The Right Hand According to Tatum in braille (BRM 36375).

Another “K” composer/musician is Kevin Kern. Legally blind since birth, Kern has attained status as a Steinway artist and records and concertizes with his original compositions. Mentored by another jazz great, George Shearing, he learned to improvise early on in his studies. He studied at the New England Conservatory for Music, and achieved international fame with fans all over the world. His compositions have been heard as background music for TV programs, such as Autumn in My Heart, a popular show in Korea.  He has toured in Japan, Singapore, Taiwan and the People’s Republic of China. Mr. Kern speaks of his piano solo works as “sound paintings,” evoking musical representations of a moment or musical description of a scene, such as a star-filled night sky. “New Age” has been used as a descriptor for some of his compositions, but in this hyper-speed age, a sound painting seems to be ideal for a pause now and then.

A Community Music School for Blind and Visually Impaired Students, Part 2

Continued from last week. Part 2 My second day at the school, which was a Saturday, was spent observing private lessons and group classes. Saturday at the school is mostly reserved for the youth programs. I was eager to attend as many lessons as possible and what I saw was fascinating and memorable. I attended […]

From Nigeria to Colombia: an Homage to Braille Music

I recently read a compelling blog post about a 2015 Pulitzer-winning historical fiction novel.  The blogger, a college professor who is blind, expressed her sadness and frustration about the book’s misrepresentation of blind people described through the actions and inactions of the book’s young blind heroine. The blogger also lamented how most sighted readers accepted […]

Braille Music Transcriber and Renaissance Woman, Karen Gearreald, Part 2

Continued from last week. Part 2 Q. What percentage of students who enroll in the program become LOC certified braille music transcribers? What are the most common obstacles to successfully completing the program? A. After concentrated study for a length of time ranging from several months to several years, about 50% of enrollees achieve certification […]

Braille Music Transcriber and Renaissance Woman: Karen Gearreald, Part 1

Part 1 Karen Gearreald has been an NLS patron since 1951, and when the Music Section was established in 1962, she enrolled for music services. She currently serves as a braille music advisor and instructor for the Library of Congress (LOC) Braille Music Transcription Certification program. While I initially contacted Karen to interview her about her […]

American Composers and Musicians from A to Z: B (Part 2 – Bischoff, John W.)

John Bischoff was an American composer and organist who worked at the First Congregational Church in Washington, D.C. from 1874 until his death in 1909. Blind since the age of two, Bischoff attended the Wisconsin School for the Blind and later studied singing and organ before moving to Washington, D.C. His obituary from the May […]

Aiming Beyond Graduation: Creating Inclusive College Music Courses for Blind and Visually Impaired Students, Part 2

This blog is a continuation of an interview with Chi Kim, instructor and professor at the assistive music technology (AMT) lab for blind and visually impaired students at Berklee College of Music.

Aiming Beyond Graduation: Creating Inclusive College Music Courses for Blind and Visually Impaired Students, Part 1

Part 1 The end goal for most college music students is to develop and cultivate skills to prepare for a successful musical career after graduation. For some music students with visual impairment (V.I.), just getting through the college degree program can be challenging.  Here are some common reasons: inability to learn a large amount of […]

Discussing Braille Music with Lifetime NLS Patron Linn Sorge, Part 1

Linn Sorge has been a NLS patron since she was in kindergarten some 60 years ago. I met Linn when I took “Braille Music Basics,” an excellent introductory online course to reading braille music offered through Hadley Institute for the Blind and Visually Impaired.  In addition to being a teacher at Hadley, Linn is an […]