[Menvi-discuss] Blind music major questions

Chris Smart csmart8 at cogeco.ca
Sun Sep 17 13:18:03 EDT 2017

that's excelent! I'm glad that resource exists.

At 01:13 PM 9/17/2017, you wrote:
>On lur links page at www.menvi.org we have links 
>to a book entitled "a college survivial guide" 
>and it is in two word documents.  You may go to 
>www.menvi.org/links.html and there, you'll be 
>directed to where the book is housed on our 
>site.  If you have any trouble finding it, 
>please let me know and I'll get you a 
>copy.  Good points. Jared Rimer Music Education 
>Network for the Visually Impaired www.menvi.org 
>bridging the gap between the blind and music 
>education When reporting broken links, please 
>kindly let us know what web page you came from 
>so we may fix the error as quickly as possible. 
>Thanks! On 9/17/2017 8:58 AM, Chris Smart via 
>Menvi-discuss wrote: > Hi Janis. > > Below, are 
>my experiences. I'm sure other folks will chime 
>in with theirs. > What works for one student may 
>not work for others. > > I hope there is some 
>sort of guide for new post-secondary music 
>students > who are visually-impaired. If there 
>isn't, there should be. A lot of > these more 
>general things probably apply to everyone: 
>self-advocacy, > getting book lists early, what 
>technology is available, etc. > > At 10:19 AM 
>9/17/2017, you wrote: > >> 1. What technology do 
>you use for music theory, music history and >> 
>aural skills? > When I was in college, I notated 
>answers to harmony, counterpoint and > other 
>assignments in Sibelius. These days, I would 
>probably go with Lime > and Lime Aloud from 
>Dancing Dots. You can find out more about that > 
>package by visiting their Website at: > 
> > >  Â There is no reason why she can't produce 
>notation on paper for sighted > instructors, 
>band members etc. although it might be helpful 
>to have a > sighted friend visually check things 
>before handing them in, keeping an > eye out for 
>crowding, overlapping items etc. To me, 
>working > independently is easier, cognitively, 
>than trying to orally dictate  > something 
>complex like a counterpoint assignment to a 
>sighted helper. > > I used to record classes in 
>audio form or take notes, depending on which > 
>class it was and the kind of material being 
>covered.  For instance, if a > class such as 
>jazz harmony contained many aural examples, it 
>was better > to record that and re-listen to it 
>later. A class like music history was > a lot 
>more about writing down facts, dates, etc. so I 
>took notes using a > notetaker. > > I completed 
>most tests and exams with sighted help, that is, 
>someone to > read me the questions and write 
>down my answers. As you can imagine, > this 
>requires holding lots of information in your 
>head. "What was that > last note I gave you in 
>the tenor part? Ok, now I need a B in the 
>alto, > an A in the bass" etc. is how the 
>conversation usually went. > > If she isn't that 
>clear on how notation looks on paper, just the 
>simple > stuff like what the staff is, what 
>leger lines are, transposing > instruments, the 
>ranges of the various clefs etc. she should try 
>and > learn that sooner rather than later.  You 
>can't always tell a sighted > helper or 
>instructor about octave and interval signs or 
>other > peculiarities of Braille, and assume 
>they will understand what you mean, > especially 
>if that help is another classmate. Learn what 
>you need to > know to communicate effectively, 
>if someone is writing down your answers > - 
>learn to speak their language. > > For some 
>reason, for years growing up, I had no idea what 
>the staff > looked like for sighted folks, or 
>even what a "note stem" felt like. > Finding 
>this stuff out gave me more confidence talking 
>to sighted > musicians. Heck, I didn't know 
>there was such a thing as "beaming" notes > 
>until I went to college. > > I'm not saying this 
>directly affects how we understand things - I 
>still > think in terms of Braille, octaves, 
>intervals, etc. - but most of the > people 
>you're interacting with are sighted, and they're 
>using different > terminology. > > About tests 
>and exams, doing things independently would have 
>been > easier, had my college been equipped to 
>produce things in music Braille, > and allow me 
>to produce my answers on computer and print them 
>out. But, > since they wern't able to produce 
>music Braille on site, and professors > often 
>didn't have tests prepared far enough in 
>advance, it seemed easier > at the time to work 
>with an assistant and they would read me 
>questions > and write down my answers.  In 
>hindsight, I should have advocated more > for 
>what I needed to work independently and most 
>effectively. > > This help was often in the form 
>of well-meaning classmates, who also > have busy 
>schedules, social lives etc. so, what I did at 
>the time was > apply for whatever bursaries, 
>grants, etc. were available, no matter how > 
>small, and used that money to pay my helpers a 
>little.  You'd be amazed > how quickly people 
>can find time to work with you once you're 
>offering a > little cash. Schedules suddenly 
>clear and you go from no volunteers > available 
>to having a choice between several.  If money 
>isn't an option, > people respond well to food. 
>:) > > Again, I was going to a smaller college, 
>and a rather under-funded music > program at 
>that. Ideally, I would have been meeting with 
>professors or > teaching assistants to do exams, 
>or having said exams transcribed into > Braille. 
>But, for my particular situation, it made more 
>sense to find > someone willing to volunteer a 
>couple hours hear and there and just get > 
>things done. > >> 2.  How do you get your 
>music theory assignments from your 
>professors? > > Sibelius and Finale, the two 
>popular notation programs, can both produce > 
>music XML files, which can then be imported into 
>whichever notation > software the student is 
>using. Again, I would talk to the folks at > 
>Dancing Dots about this. Also, ask them about 
>the Goodfeel music Braille > translator. > >> 
>3.  What technology do you need to use to 
>turn in your music theory >> homework? > > Use 
>notation software such as Lime and Lime Aloud. 
>There are probably > other options that others 
>here can list, but we don't have many notation > 
>programs we can use. The two I know about are 
>the aforementioned package > from Dancing Dots, 
>or Sibelius 5.2.5 and some Jaws scripts for 
>Sibelius > that were developed several years 
>ago. Do a google search for "sibelius > access". 
>Unfortunately, only this much older version of 
>Sibelius has > been made accessible in this 
>way. > > > >> 4.  If you had to take a 
>pre-test for music theory as an entrance >> 
>exam, how was it made accessible for you? > > In 
>one case, a college accepted prior conservatory 
>theory grades as > equivalent. In another case, 
>when I auditioned, one of the professors > 
>played me things on piano that I identified 
>aurally: chords, scales, > intervals etc. (This 
>was for a jazz program. I have no idea what goes 
>on > for classical schools) > >> 5.  How did 
>you get your textbooks in braille and audio? > I 
>obtained a book list for the upcoming semester 
>or year well in > advance, and the college's 
>office for students with disabilities would > 
>see if any items were already available in 
>alternate formats, or if they > needed to be 
>produced. As you can imagine, producing books in 
>Braille > takes lots of time, so get the list of 
>required textbooks early, really > early! You 
>certainly can't show up on the first day of 
>class and go > "hey, where are my books?" > >> 
>Advocate for yourself. Assume that some people 
>will not get things to >> you soon enough, or 
>know what format you need, and be ready to 
>tell >> them otherwise. Be polite but firm. > >> 
>You may also run into issues and attitudes such 
>as, but not limited to: > > * Sighted help, a 
>classmate for instance, feels bad about your > 
>disability and really wants you to succeed, so 
>they offer you an answer > or two, during a exam 
>situation. Bad! Don't go along with this or 
>let > people assume, wrongly, that you cannot do 
>things. Don't take the easy > way out. > > * If 
>you are able to produce things on paper for 
>folks, do it. If this > means learning how to 
>use new software, do it. Don't go along with > 
>anybody's faulty assumption that you can't do 
>something, because you are > blind. (and don't 
>try to learn your notation software while in 
>the > middle of a busy semester. I learned this 
>one the hard way haha!) > > The rest of this is 
>probably not relevant, but I need to write about 
>it > somewhere, and this seems as good a place 
>as any. > > Here's a brief cautionary tale. > > 
>As I was finishing a three-year jazz program, 
>another student who was > blind was in their 
>first year. I immediately started hearing 
>strange > things from peers and professors 
>alike. > > Chris, can I ask you something? You 
>took my sight singing class a couple > of years 
>ago. How did you read the textbook? > > What do 
>you mean? I had the book in Braille. It's 
>already transcribed, > so your student needs to 
>just call the disability office and ask for 
>it. > It's probably sitting on a shelf. It turns 
>out the student had received > the book, even, 
>he just wasn't reading it, taking it to class 
>etc. > > The professor couldn't remember how 
>things were done before all that > clearly, and 
>was probably thinking "how on earth is this new 
>kid going > to complete my class"? > > Then, a 
>classmate came to me with the following: > > 
>Chris, um, can I talk to you about 
>something?  I was helping X with an > exam the 
>other day, and he kept asking me for 
>answers.  I didn't want > him to fail, so I 
>"helped". Note the quotation marks around 
>helped. > > He felt horrible being put in a jam 
>like this. His well-meaning response > was to 
>help this guy cheat. > > If you encounter 
>well-meaning but bad attitudes like this, people 
>who > offer to just do things for you, when you 
>clearly haven't studied or > don't know the 
>answers, don't go along with this. It's 
>tempting, but it > poisons the environment for 
>whomever follows you; it erodes any > 
>accumulated good will you have built up, or 
>people who came before you > built up. > > and, 
>I wasn't a great student either. But, when I 
>failed something, I > did so honestly. > > 
>Chris > > > 
>---------------------------------------- > 
>"There are two means of refuge from the miseries 
>of life: music and > cats." - Albert 
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of life: music and cats." - Albert Schweitzer 

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