[Menvi-discuss] [musictlk] NFB Training center????

Bill billlist1 at verizon.net
Mon May 13 10:04:41 EDT 2013

Dear Winona,

First of all, it is important to realize that there is no right or wrong
answer to your question.  It's good to make an informed decision and then
follow the plan you have chosen.  As I tell my own children, it is OK to
change the plan but it is not OK not to have a plan at all.  

That being said, looking back, I wonder how much less stressful my own
college days might have been had I taken a year off between graduating from
high school and starting college in order to focus on skills like cooking,
cleaning, organization and time management.  On the other hand, at that
point in my life, the idea of doing something like that probably would have
seemed rather silly to me.

My buddy, Ted Henter, founder of the company that created the JAWS screen
reader, likes to say that success is where preparation meets opportunity.  I
like his definition.  I myself also like to say that creating success is
more like cultivating a habit of moving in a direction rather than arriving
at a destination.  Or, to say it another way, small successes lead us to
greater successes by building confidence and an expectation of even more

The essential question you must ask yourself is are you prepared right now
to succeed in college or not?  You must take a totally honest assessment of
your own skills in a number of areas and not just in the area of music.
Check results of your self-assessment with people who know you well and who
have experience that you lack.  For example, if you have a mobility
instructor, does he or she believe that your skills are adequate for
independent travel?  Obviously, there have been those blind people who have
excelled in their music studies in college who had inadequate mobility
skills.  But how much time did they waste waiting around for somebody to
guide them to where they needed to go?  How many opportunities did they miss
because they were unable to travel independently?  

I can tell you that our own college-age children have struggled with time
management during their college years.  They are not visually impaired.
They are improving at managing their time but it has been a challenge and
continues to be.  One potential up-side to attending the training center
program might be that you will learn how to get more done in less time
because you will have to limit your practice sessions to only certain hours
in order to still fully participate in the training program.  As someone
once said, work tends to expand to fill the time allotted for it.  I know a
highly successful composer who once told me that he spends only about an
hour a week on average actually composing.  But he obviously gets a lot out
of that time.  He spends the rest of his time doing things that actually
consistently pay the bills.

Again, are you ready to enter college where you might be living away from
home for the first time in your life?  Do you have the mobility skills
required to get around a college campus and surrounding neighborhoods?  Are
you ready to wash your own clothes and keep your living area tidy enough not
to distract you from your studies?  For example, can you organize your study
materials so that you won't ever have to waste 15 minutes frantically
searching for something you need while you should be leaving to go to class?
Have you ever noticed how successful people tend to arrive early for
appointments?  How are your self-advocacy skills?  Are you ready to approach
professors and instructors to negotiate with them about how and when you
will take tests, for example?  How are your music literacy skills?  Can you
independently study the pieces you need to learn to play?  If you read
literary braille, have you learned to read music braille well enough to use
it in college as a music major?  Are you able to write music down and print
it out for your teachers in standard staff notation?  As I think you know,
our GOODFEEL software allows you to both read and to write music notation

One tried and true method that I myself have used to help me in making a
decision is to make a sheet with 2 columns: pros and cons.  That is, at the
top of one column you might write: "Pros for attending training center."
The second column says: "Cons for attending training center."  Just start
listing all the items in favor of attending the training program now under
"Pros" and negatives under "Cons."  This exercise has a way of getting
things much clearer for me.  I hope it helps you too.

BTW, I know that some colleges will accept you into their program and allow
you to defer enrollment for a year. You can audition now and, if you get
accepted, request that deferment to give yourself more time to prepare.
Under the "Pro" column, attending the training program will give you even
more time to practice and study.  As others have suggested, ask a lot of
questions before agreeing to attend any program.  In your case, a key
question would be "are there any community bands or orchestras where I could
play?"  Playing in churches is always good experience.  Think about how much
time you need to practice and discuss that need with the people who run the
program before committing to attend.    

To summarize, there is a cost to getting organized and there is a cost to
being disorganized.  As with most things, it becomes a question of pay now
or pay later.  When you do get to college, you ideally will be so well
organized that you can focus entirely on succeeding in your studies and
excelling as an aspiring musician.  And you will be so together that you
will also have some time to devote to other important things: time to  just
relax, have a social life, take some physical exercise, pursue other
interests such as hobbies or just reading about things that interest you,
going to movies, all of those things that help you to grow as a person and
not just as a musician.  And through it all, try to be thankful for what you
do have and enjoy the gift of each day.  Successful people are positive
people.  Remember that our country is the land of opportunity and even more
so for us blind people.  There are still places in this crazy world where
nobody expects that a blind person can do anything but beg for a living.  We
have a chance to prove that it does not have to be that way.  Our own
success can give hope to others, especially other blind people.

Well, this note has turned into quite a little sermon from your "Uncle
Bill!"  But I hope it helps you to find some answers to your current dilemma
as well as to give you some general things to consider.  When I was your
age, I did not really enjoy hearing people my age say things like "When I
was your age (dot, dot, dot).  But, when I was your age, I just did not
realize just how young I was at the time.  Six months or a year for someone
your age probably seems like an age but, when you get to be my age, you
realize that it is a relatively short time.  Whew, that sentence actually
took an age just to read let alone to write!

Whatever you decide to do, take your time.  Don't waste your time but take
the time that you need to give you the best shot at success.

Bill McCann
Your fellow trumpet player who is currently on an extended intermission from
the bandstand 

-----Original Message-----
From: musictlk [mailto:musictlk-bounces at nfbnet.org] On Behalf Of Winona
Sent: Sunday, May 12, 2013 6:06 PM
To: musictlk at nfbnet.org
Cc: menvi-discuss at menvi.org
Subject: [musictlk] NFB Training center????

Hello All,

I am having a hard decision trying to decide if I want to go to an NFB
training center or not. (I promise, this is music related).

I understand that I will benefit greatly from any training center no matter
where I go, but the big dilemma is that I want to go to college and study
music education or performance. (I'm not 100% sure). If I go to a training
center, I'm thinking I would loose 6-9 months of practicing and performance.
And during the seven years as a trumpet player, there has never been a month
where I haven't played. So I can't imagine not playing for six months. What
do you guys think I should do? Should I go to a training center right after
high school and then audition for colleges? Or, should I go to college and
maybe get a degree in music education or performance; go to a training
program knowing I have that degree; and then look for a job after the


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