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Music Education Network
For The Visually Impaired

A Coalition of Parents, Educators, and Students

Southern California Conservatory of Music, MENVI Headquarters
8711 Sunland Blvd, Sun Valley, CA 91352
Phone: (818) 767-6554; E-mail:
Newsletter, Winter/Spring Quarter 1999 Issue No. 7


MENVI "Specialists" Team Officially Established

MENVI "Specialists"

In our last issue, we redefined MENVI as an "International Registry" and a network for blind musicians, teachers, students, and others who serve their educational needs musically. At that time, a decision was made to seek out recognized and active professionals in specific areas to serve as information resources for MENVI. A list of suggested specialists was sent to all MENVI Advisors in December for their consideration. Many of those asked to serve have accepted the appointment, and our "team" is now being assembled. We are in hopes that a fairly complete list will be available with our next mailing.

MENVI Specialists are a cross-section of expertise representing sources and organizations serving the needs of blind musicians and/or students. They will certainly not be expected to have all of the answers, however, we have asked them to be accessible when questions in their area of expertise are directed to our network. Following, is a list of MENVI Specialists to date:

  1. VI Computer Assisted Technology
  2. Braille Music Textbooks and Formats Ed Godfrey, Braille Program Assistant, Washington Talking Book and Braille Library, Seattle
  3. Music Transcriber Training and Certification Sandra Kelly, Braille Music Advisor/Instructor for Library of Congress, Washington, DC
  4. International Braille Music Code Mrs. Bettye Krolick, Chair - Music Technical Committee, BANA
  5. VI Resource Teacher (Middle School/High School) Denise Smith, Braille Transcriber - Liberty Jr. High School, Liberty Missouri
  6. Professional Transcriber Software and Technology Robert Stepp, President of Computer Application Specialties Company - ED-IT PC
  7. Braille Piano Music Library Resources Stephanie Pieck, Concert Pianist; Braille Music Instructor for New York Commission for the Blind and Visually Handicapped
  8. Electronic Music and VI Computer Music Arts David Pinto, VI Computer Composition - SCCM and Los Angeles Pierce College
  9. Student Certification (Practical/Theory Examinations) Grant Horrocks, L.A. Chair - Royal Conservatory of Music Examination Ctr; and SCCM Conservatory Div.
  10. Braille Literacy Frances Mary D'Andrea, Director - AFB Southeast/National Literacy Program

Other Specialists and their titles will be announced as appointments are accepted and formally listed. Other titles are: Large Print; Music Therapy; Youth and Career Services Consultation; Band Music/Director; Choral Music; College/University Disabled Student Services; National Braille Association, Music Committee; Music Instruction for Students with Learning Disabilities.

In Honor of Mrs. Flo McGill

Flo McGill passed away on October 11, 1998. Following is a tribute to her written by our member, Richard Dortch:

Flo worked for the Clark County School District in Las Vegas for nearly 30 years. About 10 years ago, she instituted a braille program at the prison in Indian Springs, Nevada. This program started small, and over the years has grown to be a major supplier of braille material for the school district not only for Clark County, but for Douglas County Schools, as well.

Mrs. McGill started the program at the prison in 1988. They had only 6 Perkins Braillers when the men started to learn braille. This program has grown to where they now have 25 PerkinsBraillers and two 2-hour classes per day. The classes are full and usually have a waiting list of men wanting to learn braille. Over the past 10 years, there have been approximately 110 men certified in Literary Braille, 13 in Nemeth Braille, and one man is just a lesson or two away from being certified in Music Braille.

In addition to the certification program, Flo started a braille production group to produce books for the school district. This program has also flourished. When it was started, they had 2 Apple computers, and many of the books were done by hand on the Perkins. Now the program has grown to have 14 IBM computers using the MegaDots program. In each of the past 4 years, the men at the prison, under Flo's guidance, have continuously produced over 100 textbooks per school year. This figure does not include math or music. The two men doing math have produced over 8 Nemeth books in the last 10 months. The music transcriber has produced over 4,000 pages of braille music in the past 3years.

So as you can see, Flo McGill's contribution and commitment to braille has been, and continues to be, a positive influence on these men at the prison. Flo passed away on October 11, 1998. She will be sorely missed by all.

Programs, Services, and Resources

Summer Music Institute, National Resource Center for Blind Musicians

The Music and Arts Center for the Handicapped (MACH) is accepting applications from motivated blind musicians throughout the United States, tenth grade and up, to participate in its fourth Summer Music Institute for Blind College-bound Musicians. The three-week program, to be held in July at the University of Bridgeport, will provide exposure to music braille, music composition by computer, keyboard, theory, ensemble, and strategies for independence in a college setting. Enrollment is limited to ten students who will be accepted based on their applications and telephone interviews. Cost of the program including tuition, room and board, and materials is $2,000. Partial scholarships are available. Applications must be completed and returned by May 1, 1999. Students under the age of 15 or in need of significant financial help should apply early.

For an application to the Summer Music Institute or to reach the National Resource Center, contact the Music and Arts Center for the Handicapped, 600 University Avenue, Bridgeport, CT 06601. Phone: (203) 366-3300. E-mail:

Southern California Conservatory of Music, Braille Music Division

SCCM is planning a special "Teacher Training" Summer session this year. Subjects will include VI Computer Music Arts and braille music pedagogy. Teachers can earn 1 unit of college credit for each 15 hours attended. More information will be available later, including local accommodations and provisions.

MENVI information and membership applications can now be completed on Internet services. Visit the website at:

Important Products/Publications

Dancing Dots Technology

The newest version of "Goodfeel," braille music translation software, now supports the use of lyrics. The President of Dancing Dots, Bill McCann, was recently interviewed on BBC radio in London. The interview made significant reverberations worldwide. For information about "Goodfeel," visit the website at:`ddots.

Hal Leonard Piano Series Now Available In Braille

The Hal Leonard Piano series is a very popular set of beginning piano books. "Lessons," Books 1-5, and "Solos," books 1-5 are now available. Our own Stephanie Pieck worked with the Hal Leonard Company to produce this fine library for blind piano students.


"Guild Briefs" is a publication listing services and products of general and varied interest for the blind. It is a fine listing of services and important activities and seminars. It is published by THE GUILD FOR THE BLIND. 180 N. Michigan Ave., Suite 1700, Chicago, IL 60601- 7463. Phone: (312) 236-8569; Fax: (312) 236-3140.


The success of the teaching aid, "Tack-Tiles," is certainly no secret to teachers of braille music. At SCCM Braille Music Division, we have opened the doors to braille literacy for musical children time and again through their use. In special situations, the reading of braille music through the use of Tack-Tiles has come before the introduction of literary braille, thus opening the pathways to literacy in musical children. In a special Saturday "Music Camp" at SCCM, Tack-Tiles are used to introduce braille music to special learners in groups. These informal lessons often follow exciting listening sessions of selected classical music literature. The product is distributed by Dancing Dots Technologies. Contact them at or phone: (610) 352-7607.

"They Shall Have Music"

The name Dorothy Dykema has long been a household word among VI music educators and braillists. Dorothy's book, "They Shall Have Music," has been a fine resource for teachers of blind students for many years. The book was primarily written for the sighted piano or organ teacher who has students who do not see well enough to use staff notation. Various instructional methods are discussed: Braille and large note music, playing by ear, and by rote. Included are tips for teaching, memorization, and fingerings, as well as ways of helping the student to play with freedom. The book concludes with a list of organizations which transcribe music into braille and sell or lend braille and large note scores. For more information or to purchase this book, write or phone Ms. Dorothy Dykema, 604 N. Allyn Street, Carbondale, IL 62901. Phone: (618) 549-6164. The price is $6.00.

Advice From Members

Fattah Abdedouk is a blind classic guitarist at University of Arizona, Phoenix. He teaches braille privately there, and has contributed this wonderful piece for the MENVI Newsletter:

"Having a good ear DOES NOT SUBSTITUTE FOR BEING ABLE TO READ ACTUAL MUSIC. Reading music is almost indispensable for various reasons:

Thank you, Fattah, for such a fine statement for the cause of music literacy!

- MENVI Articles From Our Members

Andrew Meyer is a young blind trumpet player from Eugene Oregon. His very helpful article, USING 'ED-IT' AND THE BRAILLE LITE FOR MUSIC BRAILLE," appeared in the Fall 1997 issue of our newsletter. He wrote about his experience using the Braille Lite for his transcribed band music at University of Oregon Summer Band Camp. Andrew has contributed the following article for blind band performers. He describes his purpose in the article as, "...I figured out that people did not understand how they could make playing in a band or orchestra as meaningful as it could be."

by Andrew Meyer


  1. Count off quietly at the beginning of a piece during performances or when necessary during rehearsals.
  2. Help the blind person find the beat in a difficult piece. (Count quietly, or tap your feet while touching the blind person's feet.)
  3. Count quietly one to two measures prior to the instruments coming up into playing position. This enables the blind musician to come up into playing position synchronized with the other musicians in his or her section.
  4. Read a few notes or give a reference point to verify a place in the music during rehearsal. Sometimes it is difficult to find your place if you are reading braille music. An example would be, "Look for the mf after 47," or, "Look for three quarter note C's."
  5. Remind the blind person to play open or muted if necessary. Remember that the blind person is memorizing the music and does not have the advantage of visual cues that other section members have.
  6. Cue the blind person to stand up or sit down when the conductor signals the entire section, orchestra, or band. It is embarrassing when everyone else stands up except you.
  7. Tell the blind musician the amount of rest (number of measures) after playing a particular section. It is easy to forget the number of measures to rest when you are memorizing several pieces.


  1. Count off out loud at the beginning of a piece during rehearsal.
  2. Allow the blind musician extra time to find his or her place in the music or to switch to another selection during rehearsal.
  3. Say out loud the measure number when other sections enter during rehearsals. This enables the blind person to keep track of where the band is currently playing.

If you would like to contact Andrew on his experiences in being a blind band performer and a braille music reader, look for his listing in our MENVI Membership Roster.

"How To Read Braille Music, Second Edition"

Opus Technologies is pleased to announce the publication of a new edition of "How to Read Braille Music" by Bettye Krolick, available in print, braille, and CD-ROM. In the new edition, the self-help teaching materials have been expanded with the addition of a section for guitar chords. All of the vocal examples have been updated to reflect the latest changes in the braille music code. The material on "Resources" is completely new, and "Tips for Sighted Music Teachers" has been added. Opus Technologies also distributes the "New International Manual of Braille Music Notation" in print, braille, and on CD-ROM. You may contact Opus at (619) 538-9401. E-mail is:

News From SCCM

CTEVH Conference 1999

CTEVH Conference 1999 is March 25-27 at the Hyatt Regency in Sacramento. For the first time, MENVI will present its own 2-day session on Thursday, March 25 and 26. The workshop explores the status of music education for blind students, and what is being done to improve it. Those providing resources and special products for blind music students are invited to speak. David Pinto, Director of SCCM Computer Music Arts will give a fascinating demonstration at this session. Other panelists from the MENVI team will be: Bill McCann (Dancing Dots), Maureen Young (Professional Singer/Teacher), Bettye Krolick (BANA), and Sam Flores (Opus Technologies). CTEVH Music Specialist, Richard Taesch will present "Teaching Music and Music Braille: The Building Blocks of Early and Progressive Curriculum For Blind Music Students." Bettye Krolick will be a panelist. Pamela Durant, Braille Music Instructor and Consultant, is also planned to speak at this workshop. "Music In Education: Academics and Spatial Orientation A MusicTeacher's Perspective" presented by Grant Horrocks has been postponed until next conference in 2000. Don't miss this one!!

"Intermediate Braille Music" will be conducted by Bettye Krolick, Chair, Music Technical Committee, BANA. This workshop is of particular importance to braille music transcribers. "High/Low-Tech Resources For Mainstreaming The Blind Music Student" will be presented by MENVI Specialist, Bill McCann of Dancing Dots Technology.

Welcome New Members!

  1. Patricia and Eric Rimm (piano, guitar, sax) - Florida
  2. Maribeth Clark (Asst. Professor of Music) - Florida
  3. Mrs. Dorothy Dykema (Author of: They Shall Have Music) - Illinois
  4. Meridith Hoisington (Music Therapist; Choir) - Minnesota
  5. Frank Lin (CEO, Premier Foundtion) - Massachusetts
  6. Harris Mack (Children's Counselor) - South Carolina
  7. Ann Pittel (Dir., Cornerstone Music Conservatory) - Los Angeles
  8. Salley-Anne Zimmermann (Music Ed. Advisor) - RNIB, UK

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