[Menvi-discuss] Questions re. Blind Accompanists

taeschr at ix.netcom.com taeschr at ix.netcom.com
Tue Apr 10 21:27:37 EDT 2012

Karen, and all of our wonderful responders:

Thank you all for such a fine and immediate response. 

At times such as this, it is good to know we have a real "family." 

Richard Taesch
MENVI Headquarters - www.menvi.org

-----Original Message-----
>From: Karen Gearreald <karen118 at cox.net>
>Sent: Apr 10, 2012 11:26 AM
>To: 'This is for discussing music and braille literacy' <menvi-discuss at menvi.org>
>Cc: layhank at yahoo.com
>Subject: Re: [Menvi-discuss] Questions re. Blind Accompanists
>	As a totally blind accompanist participating in church services
>every week, I appreciate the fact that my director is very understanding and
>empathetic.  Often he or another singer will introduce the hymn or special
>music which I am to accompany; thus I readily know when to start.  The
>director and I confer several times a week before the service.  A "monitor
>speaker" near me makes it easier for me to hear all cues during rehearsals
>and during the actual service.  If the director senses that I am unaware of
>the singers' readiness to begin, he will simply say "Karen" as a cue for me.
>Since our services tend to be informal, nobody seems to mind; but even in a
>very formal setting, I would see no problem with such an audible cue.  
>I am convinced that although lack of sight may seem to be a huge obstacle,
>it can be overcome, especially if the blind accompanist finds ways to be
>exceptionally helpful to the singers.  As a singer and pianist, I was
>fortunate to study privately for many years with a fabulously empathetic
>sighted teacher who has a graduate degree in accompanying.  By osmosis and
>by specific instruction, I learned his secrets of accompaniment--helpful
>little maneuvers which are unknown to most keyboard players.  I have become
>skillful and comfortable in making all sorts of adaptations, modifications,
>and transpositions--sometimes at the last minute or even during a
>performance--to please the director and the singers.  In addition, prior to
>performance I speak as many comforting and reassuring words as I can to any
>singers who may be fretful or nervous.  I also am constantly working to
>improve my skills and expand my repertoire so that even on very short
>notice, I can accompany pieces which a sighted accompanist might be afraid
>to try without adequate rehearsal.
>I have found that in accepting the musical challenges which come to me, I
>need the grace and patience and sense of humor which only our Lord can give.
>Once, as I recall, I was asked to play for a wedding after three other
>keyboardists had declared themselves unavailable.  In accepting the
>opportunity, I decided that I must not be offended by the fact that I was
>fourth choice.  I just said to myself:  "I'll play so well that these people
>will wish they had asked me first."
>When pieces are complicated and there Is sufficient lead time, I obtain
>braille transcriptions if possible.  The value of this strategy was recently
>clear to me as I, in the position of vocal soloist, worked with two sighted
>accompanists who were trying to play the ink-print score of Rossini's
>"Inflammatus," a very challenging piece.  The transcriber, a dear and
>understanding friend, had numbered my measures with her usual extraordinary
>accuracy.  Thus when the sighted accompanists got lost, I was able to talk
>about where they were and what I thought we should be doing.  
>In summary, I'm delighted that Mr. Lay is assisting his blind friend.  More
>power to such a determined effort!  In a word, my advice is that the blind
>accompanist should develop so many assets that nobody even thinks of his
>blindness as a liability or hindrance.
>					Karen Gearreald 
>-----Original Message-----
>From: menvi-discuss-bounces at menvi.org
>[mailto:menvi-discuss-bounces at menvi.org] On Behalf Of
>richardtaesch at menvi.org
>Sent: Tuesday, April 10, 2012 1:38 PM
>To: menvi-discuss at menvi.org
>Cc: layhank at yahoo.com
>Subject: [Menvi-discuss] Questions re. Blind Accompanists
>Hello all,
>Kindly read this very interesting question (below my signature). I am sure
>many of you will be very willing to offer suggestions for Mr. Lay, as we
>have seen several discussions on this subject over time.
>Please write him directly, but do copy the list. I have suggested that Mr.
>Lay join us and the network, as well. His address is: <layhank at yahoo.com>
>Richard Taesch
>MENVI Headquarters - www.menvi.org
>comments: I'm a sighted person, trying to help a blind pianist get a job as
>a church accompanist.
>I'm trying to find out if any devices or methods have been developed to help
>the music director communicate performance cues to the accompanist, such as
>starts, stops, tempo changes, fermatti, etc.  Ways to identify measures
>(normally numbered in printed scores) would also help.  I'm an amateur
>singer myself, and have no experience with braille music, so links to
>sources for such would also be helpful.
>Hank Lay
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