Greetings From SCCM! We wish to extend a hearty thanks to all of you who have shown such enthusiasm for our new MENVI effort. There is much to be done, but with such a showing of desire to "unite for the cause," there's definitely excitement in the air. We are now forming a MENVI "Advisory Committee." Members will be announced in the next Newsletter. Members will be volunteers who are available for advice and expertise in their own professional fields.
Richard Taesch and Grant Horrocks conducted a two-day workshop music on education and braille music literacy at the 1997 CTEVH Conference on April 18 and 19. The theme of the workshops was, "I am blind, and I CAN sight-read!" The first session covered guidelines and information useful to parents and teachers with minimal experience in music or braille skills. We highly recommended that parents become involved in music with their children well before formal training begins. We emphasized the idea that music should NOT be an elective, and that research is showing that it is just as important (possibly more) that the three "R's." Bettye Krolick was on the panel both days, and contributed much from her experience. Day two brought a fine perspective from Carol Tavis about the state of music education as seen by the L.A. Unified School District teacher. She discussed articles based on research of the benefits of early music education. If you would like copies of the articles, contact us at SCCM, and we will put you in touch with Carol. Sam Flores demonstrated a wonderful tool known as the CD-ROM version of the new "International Manual of Braille Music Notation." You may reach him at Opus Technologies: (619) 538-9401. He demonstrated how his program can be used by nearly anyone desiring to tutor a student in braille music notation. Carol Tavis presented an informative workshop on "Special Learners" at the California Music Educators Conference in March. A rather poor turnout clearly demonstrated work yet to be done to reach more music educators. She spoke of new findings in brain research regarding music, and of the "National Standards for Music Education."
Richard Taesch and Grant Horrocks conducted a parent information meeting at the Braille Institute Youth Center (Anaheim) in May. Parents were shown how they can initiate music skills and braille music basics for their children. A follow-up "hands-on" workshop for parents and their children is planned in the near future. The success of the SCCM Outreach at the Frances Blend School in L.A., is a fine example of cooperative effort between public and private education. Look for a future article on the Program in the CTEVH Journal. Our work with increasing numbers of blind children and Special Learners has clearly shown that we must work together to emphasize the point that music is a necessity, not a luxury in education. We are planning research projects based on the progress of students who have reached new academic levels through the study of music. Evidence shows that the benefits of musical training cannot be judged solely on the appearance of impressive performances. There is much more at stake!
We will soon begin work on a compilation of braille music library lists. Our plan is to list titles, instruments, and composers of as many sources as we can gather. The listing will be restricted to braille music only. Large print will be included later. Music library sources for blind students and musicians seem to be scattered at this point. Hopefully, we can unify sources for reference. SCCM has been the recipient of wonderful braille music donations. We have received a fine library from Dr. Robert Smith, a retired blind Professor of Music. Dr. Smith is also on the new CTEVH Music Committee. John di Francesco, a blind singer, teacher, conductor, and proofreader for Library of Congress, has expressed his desire to donate his extensive library of choral and vocal music to the SCCM Braille Music Division. Miriam Wickham, a retired teacher and transcriber, has also donated wonderful books and teaching texts to us. Her library includes an antique book with raised print notation ideal for showing blind students what print music appears like.
You can help us to compile our library list. Many of you have files in your computers that you have done for individual readers. If these have not been listed with NBA or NLS, send us the titles, etc., and we will include them in our master list. If anyone has information that we should be aware of on copyright issues, please let us know. The sources of existing music will also be listed.
The company, "Dancing Dots," is developing software that will actually translate music notation or files created on a MIDI keyboard into music braille. The name of the program is titled, "Goodfeel." SCCM Braille Music Division is one of the beta-testers for the project. Once the program is marketed, certain kinds of music translation will be possible by those who do not know braille music syntax. SCCM is studying the possibilities of working with this technology to develop a home teaching curriculum for braille music reading. A braille music correspondence course using SCCM teaching techniques has been under development for some time. More on this exciting news later. For those looking for the ideal music transcribing software, look into ED-PC by Computer Application Specialties Company. Bettye Krolick (Music Technical Committee, BANA) assisted in the development of this program. Group purchases are available Call Dan Winter: (818) 704-1242.
Tony Del Castillo, an SCCM braille music student, has been accepted to the USC Music Department. He is in an intensified braille music skills program at SCCM in preparation for the fall semester at college. Look back to the March issue of Reader's Digest for a stirring article on Dat Ngyuen. Dat is a young blind classic guitarist from Vietnam. The article, "Music Was His Passport," profiles his life from "a land devastated by war," to his upcoming graduation as a guitar major at Cal State Fullerton under David Grimes. Professor Grimes is also on the SCCM guitar faculty. 9-year old, Heather Bandy, will be the first blind SCCM student to take the Royal Conservatory of Music examination this month. SCCM is the L.A. Headquarters for the RCM Examination Center.
MACH (Music and Arts Center for The Handicapped) in Bridgeport, CT, offers a special Summer Institute for college-bound blind students in July. For information, call David Goldstein at: (203) 366-3300 Audition scholarships for blind students are offered at SCCM on a limited basis. Call for an application. SCCM will offer instruction in braille music orientation for sighted teachers in the Fall Quarter. This will not be a course in music transcription, but will teach the visual reading of basic music formats and braille music solfege. A knowledge of grade 1 braille is preferred, though not required.
Feel like no one can give you straight info on music resources at school? A suggestion is to go to the Disabled Students Office, and request they call SCCM Braille Music Division--we can help. When you apply for college, ask what services are offered for blind students. Tell them what you need, and offer resources that can help them. Find out what music texts they require BEFORE you attend. Portions can be transcribed in time only if you request them early.
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