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Music Education Network
For The Visually Impaired

A Coalition of Parents, Educators, and Students


- MENVI Headquarters -
SCCM, 8711 Sunland Blvd, Sun Valley, CA 91352
Phone: (818) 790-5903; E-mail: taeschr@ix.netcom.com
News Journal - Fall Quarter 2002 Issue No. 14

MENVI


- Special Issue on Resource Teachers, Mainstreaming,
and Music Education for Blind Students -


Music In Education

The following article first appeared in the CTEVH Journal, Summer 2002. It has been re-edited for the MENVI News Journal.

Resource Teachers - The Music Educator's
true "Resource" and More

Most parents and educators are aware of behind-the-scenes support that school resource teachers provide for our blind children. Among the many hats that they are required to wear, they maintain academic lifelines between students and their teachers, provide college counseling, transcription/translation services, tutoring arrangements, an understanding attentive ear, and a hand-to-hold when needed. They may even act as private tutors, including music. In many cases, they have provided this music teacher with priceless outside support - support that was not possible in the home or classroom environment - support without which certain students may not have succeeded. For these students, music has become a prime access to academics and literacy in general, not to mention a chance at equality with their sighted peers.

In a system of relentless pressure to mainstream all special learners, the resource teacher's role may become more critical than ever - and for a musical child and his or her music educator, virtually indispensable. When special learners tend to be collected in one "special" school, it becomes possible for an outreach such as the SCCM Braille Music Division to visit them together, and to contribute a collective program tailored to meet their special needs. Moreover, a special school can serve as a pool - a central place where musically gifted blind children can be discovered and offered scholarship support for the program, as well as an opportunity to study in a conservatory environment and realize artistic and academic potential.

Such was the situation with an SCCM Outreach at a special education school in Los Angeles. Without the support of the principal of the school, her dedication to quality of education and the arts, her concern for each child as a unique individual, and the professionalism and support of the music director, our contribution to the children of the school could not have succeeded. If the mainstream effort is successful, along with proposed advantages also lurks the possibility of shattered opportunities for many, especially for those who might benefit from the presence of outside specialists in the arts who bring such programs to them. For those of us in the field of music education, the proportion of musical blind children seems to far outweigh that of the sighted community. Will we then lose these children as they become scattered across the district in a vast sea of mainstream education?

As a teacher of music, and on behalf of those of us on the CTEVH Music Committee, we know that a child need not become a "musician" or even to perform very well to benefit from music. Many that we consider musically gifted do fall into that category, and their gifts have nothing to do with virtuosity or arts careers. More than 90% of our enrollment of blind children possess perfect pitch (tonal frequency recognition). Clearly, there should be no question about the importance of music as an academic edge for their growth! If resource teachers as we now know them become an endangered species, or perhaps too spread out over mainstream responsibilities, the possibilities for special learners receiving special help will become far more sparse.

As author of "An Introduction To Music For The Blind Student," Parts I and II, I could not have developed the course without help from one remarkable resource teacher in Napanee Illinois during the beta-test period. This teacher was not a music braille reader or music transcriber, and yet was resourceful enough to guide her student, by means of correspondence, through the essentials of the Part I course in braille music reading and music instruction in general. In another situation, one teacher was such a vigilant supporter for a young baritone horn player in middle school that she was appointed to our MENVI specialists committee as Resource Teacher Specialist. As with most VI resource educators, the efficiency and dedication to literacy on behalf of this young man were truly a model effort.

A Few Musical Suggestions for Resource Teachers

Clearly each school district is different, and each school has varying structure and needs. Yet musical needs and strong academic fundamentals are intrinsically similar. For example, a certain amount of individual instruction and attention is needed to balance a healthy classroom effort. Music students grow at a different pace, and some individual attention is essential for them to adjust to classroom progress. If we are going to meet the inevitable challenges ahead, we will need consistent goals and strategies. Based on what we have learned through example from a few creative and progressive resource teachers, we offer the following ideas for consideration:

  1. Find time, on a rotating basis, to work each week with one music student who is studying with an outside private teacher. Communicate with the private teacher, and request what it is that he or she would like for you to reinforce. Request that the student bring in the teacher's written assignments. You need not be a music teacher to listen to the blind student play or to give constructive support. All professional private teachers have strategies to offer the layperson who is willing to help their students.
  2. If you have some musical training, consider requesting that the district purchase instruction books or a course in braille music. If this is not possible, perhaps a small group of students can be gathered for simple ear-training and theory sessions. All of us on CTEVH Music Committee are willing to offer structure and to give guidance.
  3. If the school has a music program, encourage good will and communication with the music teacher. Let him or her know that you are not a professional music teacher, and that you are only there to assist on behalf of the blind students that you serve. Most mainstream school music teachers have had little experience with a blind student, and will be eager for help from your perspective.
  4. Above all, if you are serving near high school age children, make them and their families aware that they may be eligible to apply for high school credit for outside music study. The reality of grade transcripts and the new age of early college prep portfolios are a fine incentive for many ambitious students.

- Richard Taesch, Ed.

CTEVH Music Committee:

  1. Richard Taesch, CTEVH Music Specialist
  2. Sam Flores, Opus Technologies
  3. Grant Horrocks, SCCM Conservatory/Piano Divisions/RCM Exams
  4. Robert Smith, Retired Professor of Music
  5. Carol Tavis, Elementary School Music/Special Learners

MENVI Specialists Committee

This is a list of Specialists belonging to the MENVI network. To E-mail them, click on the appropriate link. If you have questions, please and tell me who you are trying to contact and what address you are using. Please be specific as this will aid in responding quicker. If you call and get my voice mail, please leave your name, number, who you are trying to contact, and the problem you are having. You will get a call back within 24-48 hours in most cases.



  1. Band Music/Director Rick Coates, Music Teacher, The Governor Morehead School
  2. Braille Literacy Frances Mary D'Andrea, Director American Foundation for the Blind National Literacy Center
  3. Braille Piano Music Library Resources Stephanie Pieck, Concert Pianist; Braille Music Instructor for New York Commission for the Blind and Visually Handicapped
  4. Braille Music Textbooks and Formats Ed Godfrey, Braille Program Assistant, Washington Talking Book and Braille Library, Seattle
  5. College/University Disabled Student Services Judith Bushnell, University of Southern California Disabled Student Services
  6. Electronic Music and VI Computer Music Arts David Pinto, VI Computer Composition SCCM and Los Angeles Pierce College
  7. International Braille Music Code Mrs. bettye Krolick, Compiler New International Manual of Braille Music Notation
  8. Large Print Joan Hudson-Miller, President, Library Reproduction Service (LRS)
  9. Music Therapy John Heine, Music Therapist, The Missouri School for The Blind or
  10. Music Transcriber Training and Certification Sandra Kelly (retired) Braille Music Advisor/Instructor for the Library of Congress, Washington DC; Music Technical Committee, BANA telephone in the US and Canada only (800) 424-8567
  11. National Braille Association Music Committee Lawrence Smith, Chairman NBA Music Committee
  12. Professional Transcriber Software and Technology Robert Stepp, President of Computer Application Specialties Company (Ed-It Pc; Braille 2000
  13. Student Certification (Practical/Theory examinations) Grant Horrocks, L.A. Chair--Royal Conservatory of Music Examination Center; SCCM Piano and Conservatory divisions
  14. VI Computer Assisted Technology

This concludes the MENVI newsletter 14. Bettye Krolicks address has recently changed. Please click on newsletter 15 or the home page to E-mail the correct address. Please choose from the following links to continue.

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