[Menvi-discuss] Blind orchestral cellist/piano soloist

Stephanie Pieck themusicsuite at verizon.net
Mon Sep 18 17:14:12 EDT 2017

A few additional thoughts on blind orchestral musicians follow based on my
own experience.


Regarding playing with an orchestra: I played in school orchestras from
fifth through twelfth grade, including first chair duties in both the full
and chamber orchestras my senior year. I also played cello for the high
school's pit orchestras my first two years, and piano as a junior. After
graduating, I majored in piano at college but occasionally played cello in
various community orchestra situations, usually when people put together ad
hoc groups and needed another cellist to fill things out.


I used a combination of Braille music which I transcribed myself or
recordings made by a conductor or colleague recording the cello part
slightly under tempo. For my piano work, I always used Braille scores. On
both instruments, I memorized my parts but carried Braille notes with me. I
kept these under my chair as a cellist so I wouldn't overcrowd the music
stand of my partner-we always shared stands with two people to each stand.
For piano, of course, the score could be up on the music rack.


I used my cane in all performance situations and sighted guide to enter and
leave stages.


In the case of the piano orchestral work, I made sure to know the part in
its entirety before the rehearsals, and I practiced with professional
recordings. In this way, I was usually able to play things at a tempo much
faster than would be called for in rehearsals. It also gave me a chance to
become very familiar with what all the other parts sounded like and where
mine fit in.





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