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#962712 - 09/22/07 04:01 PM Greetings and thanks.
Laurel Jean Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 09/22/07
Posts: 14
Loc: Central IL, USA
Greetings.

My name is Laurel Jean and I am new to the Piano Forums. For almost twenty years now, I have earned my living in music and ministry, as a pianist, vocalist and entertainer/speaker. To make things only a bit more interesting, I have also been blind since birth.

I give thanks every day for the teachers who were so helpful to me over the years, maintaining the same strict curriculum with me that applied to any of their sighted students. Yes, things were taught in a different way, but I was expected to learn and was appropriately praised for doing so.

Over the past few years, it has been a joy for me to work in partnership with the National Resource Center for Blind Musicians in Bridgeport, CT, directed by David Goldstein. I would encourage any teacher presented with the unique yet rewarding challenge of working with a blind student to visit this site, and to contact David's organization with any questions. This organization is also available to assist visually impaired teachers who may be working with sighted students.
http://blindmusicstudent.org

In several instances only this year, I have been saddened to hear that sighted instructors have turned away potential students simply because of the student's blindness. I understand the challenge for both sides, having presented primarily for the sighted community with an outreach on behalf of the blind, and striving to break down barriers between both.

Just as every sighted student isn't a prodigy, every blind student isn't a prodigy. However, the same benefits of music instruction for sighted children apply to children who are blind or visually impaired.

Having said all of this, I personally want to make myself available to answer any questions or chat with (1) sighted instructors presented with the opportunity to work with blind students, and (2) blind or visually impaired instructors who also reach out to the sighted community.

As I once told the now Dean Emmeritus of my high school Alma Mater, "Perhaps the gap between the blind and sighted communities is only 88 keys wide." \:\)

Thanks for reading. I look forward to hearing from you and helping when I can.
_________________________
Laurel Jean
http://www.laureljean.com

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#962713 - 09/22/07 04:54 PM Re: Greetings and thanks.
Ebony and Ivory Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/14/05
Posts: 1179
Loc: Minnesota
I'm guessing they're getting turned away, not because the students are blind, but because the teachers are unfamiliar with how to teach a blind student. I wouldn't have any idea how to go about that.
That being said, I applaud your efforts to "tune us in".

Music is absolutely something we can do/enjoy with or without or sight. My 99 1/2 yo grandmother still will play, even though she can no longer read the music, this is something that she can do.
It's also something (one of the few any more) that we can do when the power goes out! LOL
_________________________
It is better to be kind than to be right.

Professional private piano teacher since 1994.

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#962714 - 09/22/07 04:58 PM Re: Greetings and thanks.
Stanny Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/08/06
Posts: 1461
Welcome to the board!
_________________________
~Stanny~

Independent Music Teacher
Certified Piano Teacher, American College of Musicians
Member: MTNA, NGPT, ASMTA, NAMTA

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#962715 - 09/22/07 05:12 PM Re: Greetings and thanks.
Laurel Jean Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 09/22/07
Posts: 14
Loc: Central IL, USA
It can be done, and I appreciate this opportunity to encourage instructors. I love to play the piano during a power outage. Although I have pretty much gone digital, my Baldwin Hamilton still stands proudly in the family room. Hey, I can read music in the dark, too, but I can't sight read piano music. LOL

 Quote:
Originally posted by Ebony and Ivory:
I'm guessing they're getting turned away, not because the students are blind, but because the teachers are unfamiliar with how to teach a blind student. I wouldn't have any idea how to go about that.
That being said, I applaud your efforts to "tune us in".

Music is absolutely something we can do/enjoy with or without or sight. My 99 1/2 yo grandmother still will play, even though she can no longer read the music, this is something that she can do.
It's also something (one of the few any more) that we can do when the power goes out! LOL [/b]
_________________________
Laurel Jean
http://www.laureljean.com

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#962716 - 09/24/07 07:41 PM Re: Greetings and thanks.
DoReMi Katie Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/06/07
Posts: 114
Loc: Illinois
So glad to meet you Laurel Jean! Since I was a young teenager I've been wanting to teach blind children to play piano by ear. the opportunity has never come up yet as I just established my studio. But just recently a mother has contacted me to teach her visually impared 6-yr old daughter. i'm ecstatic! I'll probably do the suzuki approach, since I'm very familiar with it (having been a suzuki student in japan myself). if you have any suggestions or thoughts or techniques that worked for you, PLEASE let me know!! I'm very eager to hear more from you - the joys, challenges, etc. Thanks!
_________________________
Full-time, independent piano instructor; church musician
MTNA, ISMTA, working towards NCTM!

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#962717 - 09/24/07 08:05 PM Re: Greetings and thanks.
Diane... Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/16/06
Posts: 3443
Loc: Western Canada
Laurel Jean,

Just have to tell you that Ray Charles is one of my absolute favorites piano player!

His teacher certainly deserves some credit there!

He, like you, could play in the dark, but couldn't sight read worth a darn! \:D
_________________________
http://www.pianoworld.com/Uploads/files/goldsparkledress.jpg
Diane
Jazz/Blues/Rock/Boogie Piano Teacher


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#962718 - 09/24/07 09:06 PM Re: Greetings and thanks.
Candywoman Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/14/03
Posts: 832
There is a resource Music through Braille, written by my blind piano teacher Dr. Anne Burrows.

In fact, braille seems a confusing way to teach because every letter is one over. It's like transposing all the time.

I was offered a job teaching blind children to play piano, but they wanted me to volunteer my services.

Lots of people refuse things, but considering we're self-employed, it might be more common. I taught an autistic boy. He was 22 actually but like a boy. It was exhausting, and took three times more energy to do. They quit after 2 months because of travelling distance. What I'm saying is there are all sorts of factors that go into refusing something.

But I would take blind paying students.

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#962719 - 09/24/07 09:26 PM Re: Greetings and thanks.
Laurel Jean Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 09/22/07
Posts: 14
Loc: Central IL, USA
 Quote:
Originally posted by DoReMi Katie:


I am inspired by your excitement.

While I do enjoy playing by ear, I don't necessarily advocate one focusing on this entirely. Theory was a big part of my study from the beginning. I was taught about printed music, how it looks and what is represented in the notation. Even though I was not formally introduced to Braille music notation until I had a very good understanding of the Braille code for standard reading and writing, I understood the structure of music.

Good ear training is very important, but I believe that, from personal experience, a student should be exposed to all aspects of music, reading, comprehending, playing, and even composing.

Please feel free to write with any questions in particular.

So glad to meet you Laurel Jean! Since I was a young teenager I've been wanting to teach blind children to play piano by ear. the opportunity has never come up yet as I just established my studio. But just recently a mother has contacted me to teach her visually impared 6-yr old daughter. i'm ecstatic! I'll probably do the suzuki approach, since I'm very familiar with it (having been a suzuki student in japan myself). if you have any suggestions or thoughts or techniques that worked for you, PLEASE let me know!! I'm very eager to hear more from you - the joys, challenges, etc. Thanks! [/b]
_________________________
Laurel Jean
http://www.laureljean.com

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#962720 - 09/24/07 09:35 PM Re: Greetings and thanks.
Laurel Jean Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 09/22/07
Posts: 14
Loc: Central IL, USA
I understand. I was a paying student. However, I do know that sometimes folks expect something for nothing, and am sorry for your experience. In expecting equal opportunity, we who are differently abled must offer equal effort and treat others equally. I only want to offer encouragement, and advice when I can. Your efforts are certainly to be applauded.

 Quote:
Originally posted by Candyman:
There is a resource Music through Braille, written by my blind piano teacher Dr. Anne Burrows.

In fact, braille seems a confusing way to teach because every letter is one over. It's like transposing all the time.

I was offered a job teaching blind children to play piano, but they wanted me to volunteer my services.

Lots of people refuse things, but considering we're self-employed, it might be more common. I taught an autistic boy. He was 22 actually but like a boy. It was exhausting, and took three times more energy to do. They quit after 2 months because of travelling distance. What I'm saying is there are all sorts of factors that go into refusing something.

But I would take blind paying students. [/b]
_________________________
Laurel Jean
http://www.laureljean.com

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#962721 - 09/25/07 01:42 AM Re: Greetings and thanks.
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 11422
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Laurel Jean,
I currently have a blind voice student. I wanted her ot participate in the distric t MTNA auditions this year, but couldnt' figure out what to do about hte theory test she must take. Apparnetly, what they do is give it all aurally. I was aware of the Braille music, but neither she nor I know it, and I've heard that it is very hard to learn. So bascially, what we will do this year is have her learn "in TReble clef, what is the note on the 2nd line from the bottom" and things like that. Teaching her singing is no problem whatsoever, I just have to reword some of the things I say, or put to words things I would do in a gesture.

Is it worthwhile for her (and me) to learn Braille music do you think?
_________________________
private piano/voice teacher - full time
MTNA member
www.valeoconservatory.com
Petrof 9'2 Concert, Yamaha G3, Roland FP-7, Yamaha MOX6, Kawai MP11

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#962722 - 09/26/07 01:53 PM Re: Greetings and thanks.
Laurel Jean Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 09/22/07
Posts: 14
Loc: Central IL, USA
Sounds very similar to my voice teacher's lesson plans, prior to my learning Braille music. I think that you are on the right track, here. So many instructors simply ask a blind student to "parrot" a melody without discussing theory or technique.

In answer to your question...If your student wants to pursue a career in music, she will need Braille music in order to be more efficient as her studies become more advanced. It is possible for a blind student to be instructed in Braille music by a professional in that field, with the student's music instructor(s) only having minimal understanding of Braille music. The idea of Braille music is to better integrate the student into the sighted world. For instance, a student could be "sight-singing" a piece reading the Braille copy while you as the instructor followed the printed score.


 Quote:
Originally posted by Morodiene:
Laurel Jean,
I currently have a blind voice student. I wanted her ot participate in the distric t MTNA auditions this year, but couldnt' figure out what to do about hte theory test she must take. Apparnetly, what they do is give it all aurally. I was aware of the Braille music, but neither she nor I know it, and I've heard that it is very hard to learn. So bascially, what we will do this year is have her learn "in TReble clef, what is the note on the 2nd line from the bottom" and things like that. Teaching her singing is no problem whatsoever, I just have to reword some of the things I say, or put to words things I would do in a gesture.

Is it worthwhile for her (and me) to learn Braille music do you think? [/b]
_________________________
Laurel Jean
http://www.laureljean.com

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