[Perform-Talk] Braille in Performing: What does it mean to you?

Julie McGinnity kaybaycar at gmail.com
Wed Feb 24 03:02:10 UTC 2016

Hi all!

Good topic!  I am a huge advocate for Braille and Braille music.

Sometimes I feel like I read Braille music more than literary Braille.
When I give speeches I also use my Braille Note or emboss notes, and I
love to read out loud dramatically.  :)

Learning Braille music was imperative for me.  Although I can memorize
music, I struggled with ear training and could not memorize music
quickly enough to keep up with my peers while learning to sight read
as a music major.  I realized that if I learned Braille music, I could
compete with my peers and learn at the same rate as they were.

It took me one semester to discover my need for Braille music.  After
that, I had to play catch up: advocating for Braille music in my
classes, learning how to read music a semester behind my colleagues,
and gaining the confidence in my musical skills to be a support to my
friends in choirs and other musical groups.  One of my proudest
moments was sight reading at an audition in grad school.  I also enjoy
whipping out my Braille music on stage at singing competitions if I am
expected to have music in front of me.

I maintain that in most situations, learning Braille music should be
expected of the blind music student.  Our sighted peers are learning
to sing music at sight, so we should learn to do it at touch.  We
should be expected to do dictation exercises on our note takers or by
another method that the professor and student work out together.  I
even believe that although this is more difficult to accommodate, the
blind student should be reading rhythms.  Two-handed rhythms were the
bain of my existence in undergrad, but I still had to do them.  Lol We
got pretty creative with methods for tapping or speaking rhythms.

Braile remains my main method of learning music, especially the
classical music I sing.  I work with a Braille music transcriber and
use some of the music on BARD.

Don't be discouraged by Braille music because you think it's hard.
There are plenty of people out there to teach you as well as a Hadly
course or two.  Why shouldn't we learn music so that we can read
alongside our sighted musical counterparts.

I understand that not everyone has the Braille skills to pick up
Braille music or use Braille effectively in your performing.  If I'm
talking to you now, I would encourage you to gain the Braille skills
if necessary.  It will benefit you in the long run.  If there are
other reasons, Braille may not be the best choice for you, there are
other ways to accomplish your goals.  I'm willing to bet that without
Braille your memory will need to be much sharper, your ear much more
attuned to subtlety, your work ethic strong beyond compare.

This is my perspective.  Thanks for reading, and Braille is beautiful!

On 2/23/16, Dennis via Perform-talk <perform-talk at nfbnet.org> wrote:
> Hi all.
> I am a public speaker and Communication Coach.  I do not normally have
> braille on stage with me as it is more effective to do speeches without
> them.  However, I do sometimes take brailed bullet points with me to scan
> quick before a speech.
> *****
> Dennis R. Sumlin, Public Speaking and Communication
> Coaching for Entrepreneurs and young professionals
> President.
> Harlem Toastmasters Club
> VP of Education.
> TIC Toastmasters Club
> Starting a new website? Want your own domain? Siber Name can help! Get your
> dream name and hosting for dream prices.
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Lizzy via Perform-talk
> Sent: Sunday, February 21, 2016 10:07 PM
> To: perform-talk at nfbnet.org
> Cc: Lizzy
> Subject: [Perform-Talk] Braille in Performing: What does it mean to you?
> Hi All!
> The list has been pretty quiet as of late, so I wanted to ask
> your opinion on something.  What advantages and disadvantages
> does braille pose for you when performing? Do you use it to
> play/sing music, read a script when acting, or glance at notes
> when giving a speech? What about people who play instruments, how
> do you use braille music? For the actors out there, do you use it
> when first running through a script or choose to memorize it
> pretty much right away? For our members who don't use braille (I
> didn't forget about you), what alternatives to braille have you
> found that work well?
> I will share a little story with you about my experience:
> When I was younger and I played the violin, I had no clue that
> braille music even existed.  My instructor would record the notes
> for me so that I could listen to him speak as I played.
> Eventually I just memorized the song.  I know that many people
> who play instruments actually don't memorize the music but read
> it as they play, so I'm wondering what alternatives blind people
> use.  Just as a side note, I would love to see a great discussion
> on this topic but if you disagree with someone I ask that you do
> it respectfully and without shaming anyone.  It's okay to
> encourage people to do something or tell them your reasons for
> doing things a certain way but please remember that we are all
> here to share experiences and help each other.
> Federation Love,
> Lizzy
> -
> Elizabeth Muhammad
> National Federation of the Blind Performing Arts Division - Board
> Member
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Julie A. McGinnity
President, National Federation of the Blind Performing Arts Division,
Second Vice President, National Federation of the Blind of Missouri
"For we walk by faith, not by sight"
2 Cor. 7

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