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Young Braille Music Readers

Today has been a great day.  Two young readers registered for our music services and checked out braille music books for the first time. We have a small number of young braille music patrons, so getting two new readers in one day is something to be excited about.

One of the two new patrons was a beginning piano student whose mom requested several piano books via email. As I read her message, I could feel her excitement for her child starting on this great journey of music instruction. Following up on mom’s invitation to contact her with any questions, I grabbed the phone to share my own excitement for her child and to offer some suggestions for her ambitious list.

After a brief discussion, we decided that two of the books on her list would be too challenging for a beginning pianist. With the holidays fast approaching, I suggested some holiday music. Mom enthusiastically agreed, saying her son loved holiday music. After we ended our conversation, I sat for a moment, imagining the student figuring out the notes to a holiday song little by little, then playing the whole phrase, and eventually the whole song. I could picture his mom stopping to listen to him in the middle of her busy dinner preparation, then exclaiming proudly, “wow, good work, honey!”

According to NLS braille music specialist Gilbert Busch, when he was a student, music was a part of the regular curriculum at his school for the blind. All students learned to read braille music and play the piano. Needless to say, today, Gil reads music at lightning speed. Sometimes, when he has to find specific information in the score in a hurry, he browses two pages simultaneously by placing each hand on a different page. Gil regularly answers questions about braille music from our patrons and his colleagues.

I think of the many advantages our young patrons will have because they can read braille music.  They will be able to do the following:

  • Learn more varied genres and styles of music at a faster pace
  • Participate in choirs and chamber groups and accompany instrumentalists and singers
  • Study music theory that will provide a solid foundation for their musical studies
  • Write down their own compositions and share them with others

These are just a few advantages that came to mind.

Gil and his schoolmates were lucky to have access to music lessons at their school. These days, with many blind and visually impaired students attending public schools, it takes commitment on the part of the teachers and parents to provide music lessons that include braille music reading. We applaud their dedication and will do our best to support our young students in their endeavors. Please contact us with your requests and questions about learning braille music.

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