2006 Conference General Sessions

MUSIC LITERACY AND TECHNOLOGY LEADING TO VARIED CAREER OPTIONS FOR INDIVIDUALS WITH VISUAL IMPAIRMENT

 

Presenter(s)

Richard Taesch

Southern California Conservatory of Music

Braille Music Division

8230 Fallbrook Avenue

West Hills CA 91304

Day Phone: 661-254-0321

Email: taeschr@ix.netcom.com

 

Presenter #2

Grant Horrocks

Southern California Conservatory of Music

Braille Music Division

8230 Fallbrook Avenue

West Hills CA 91304

Day Phone: 818-704-3819

Email: siloti@sbcglobal.net

 

Presenter #3

Susan Cullen

California State University, Northridge

18111 Nordhoff Street

Northridge CA 91330-8340

Day Phone: 818-677-2152

Fax: 818-677-4932

Email: susan.cullen@csun.edu

 

Presenter #4

Dan Duran

California State University, Northridge

18111 Nordhoff Street

Northridge CA 91330-8340

Day Phone: 818-677-2176

Fax: 818-677-4932

Email: dan.duran@csun.edu

 

Introduction
In order to succeed in today’s fast-paced educational arena, blind music students must be able to work—with materials and in hand—concurrently with their sighted peers. They are completely capable of doing so, but only if prudent planning, advocacy, and informed information is available to them. They are capable of sight singing, theory and harmonic analysis, composition, orchestration, and all other musical areas.

Musically inclined individuals need not limit career plans to performance and/or teaching options. Articles in major journals have pointed out that many corporations look very favorably on music backgrounds in their hiring policies where such skills are an applied to non-music fields. These skills, which may be transferable to other career options include, Organization, Memory, Multitasking, Public Speaking or Performance, Sequencing, Creativity and Communication. Musically trained students often find these skills, taught within the discipline of music, are very advantageous in all kinds of academic and occupational endeavors.

PREPARATION:
1. Fundamental keyboard skills are required for all music students:
• Keyboard Geography for blind students (keyboard spatial orientation-helps build spatial skills
• Introduction to braille music
2. Sight singing
3. Music listening skills:
• listening to others
• listening to oneself
4. Preparing for a college entrance audition / repertoire

CHOOSING THE RIGHT COLLEGE
Blind students must know what skills will be required of them. Most postsecondary academic institutions will require music literacy in order to graduate.
1. Music Braille reading skills are essential.

2. Communication with DSS Officers and Music Department Chairperson is an acquired skill.
3. Know your specialized needs. Once you have educated yourself about your needs, you will then be in a better position to explain and request services from various Administrators and Professors. You are the best source of information regarding what works for you and why. However, in order to reach that goal of self-knowledge, you must first participation in an active preparation plan for your future.
4. Does the college you are interested in have the technology you will need? Is the school in a position to get what you need if they do not have it? What other sources may you need to explore to find funding for technology specific to your needs? The type of technology my include:
a. Scanning and translation software
b. Converting braille or MIDI files to print for submitting assignments
c. Email and embossing braille files provided by transcribers
d. Transcriber/Music Chair/Student communication

COMMON PROBLEMS & CHALLENGES
• The challenge of learning to use and apply technology to meet your needs. The lack of adequate technology commercially available.
• Instructors who believe that blind students do not need to read music.
• Identifying resources, pursuing those resources, and being assertive about your needs. Understanding what you may need to address on your own is an important factor which is frequently overlooked. Communicating and co-operating with specialists outside of the college; who are they? Where are they?
• Helping instructors to understand the need to plan ahead with respect to specialized media and tutors; braille “turnaround” time. This is a challenge when you understand that instructors, can and may change their curriculum somewhat during the course. An awareness that this may happen is critical. As much as an instructor may want to plan ahead, various items may come up without much lead time and it is best to discuss how you and the instructor and the Disabilities Services Office at your school may handle these unexpected events.
• Syllabi: The good, the bad, and the ugly—samples of what works and what doesn’t; educating the educator.
• Communicating with community resource administrators such as the Department of Re-habilitation, Independent Living Centers, and Employment Agencies that music-related careers are realistic and employable for blind music majors and minors. In fact, skills in the area of music are transferable to many jobs. The skill set is a strong base from which to build exciting careers in various fields.
 

AREAS REQUIRING ACADEMIC FLEXIBILITY
Preparing to “test out”
Functional piano skills; specifics to preparing a blind student
Music braille and keyboard skills
Teaching blind students to work in live classroom situations

MUSICAL PRESENTATION: *A short music reading lesson for the layperson
Principles to be demonstrated:
1. Braille music is logical, and essential for music students.
2. Teachers and tutors need NOT learn the music code in order to support and require its use.
3. Braille music solfege (sight singing) is the basis for all reading skills on the college level.
4. A history of the code
5. Learning the rudiments of music in braille
* Workshop attendees will participate in simple sight singing fun using the braille music code.


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