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Music Education Network
for The Visually Impaired

An International Coalition of Parents, Educators, and Students

- MENVI Headquarters -
Southern Calif. Conservatory of Music - 8230 Fallbrook Avenue, West Hills, CA 91304
Phone: (818) 704-3819; E-mail:

News Journal - Fall 2007 Issue No 26

CSUN Presentation Concluded: - You're accepted to school. Now what?
Following is the conclusion of the three-part series on the 2006 workshop collaboration presented by California State University, Northridge - Center on Disabilities, and Southern California Conservatory of Music - Braille Music Division
Workshop presented on behalf of: California State University, Northridge - Conference on Disabilities - March 22, 2006


You're accepted to school. Now what?**

  1. Request that a syllabus for each music class be provided to you and your transcriber as far in advance as possible.
  2. Request that the exact dates that each specific assignment and exam is due to be clearly marked on the syllabus.
  3. Explain that there will not be sufficient time to prepare complete books, and that you will need to ask that the professor take the time to highlight ONLY the music examples that he or she might expect to cover. You can only expect this within reason, as the teacher may find it necessary to delete or add other assignments as the class progresses. Explain that a reader is a viable alternative for literary text portions. Sometimes professors prefer not to follow text verbatim. They may only ask you to be aware of its content. This may not even require braille text, especially if there is not time to obtain full textbooks. Music examples are required, however. Where large anthologies are needed for history and listening classes, discuss the possibility of having only a few measures of each required score transcribed. Many of the sighted students may not be able to follow those scores themselves except to scan them lightly. By listening well, and seeing the general structure of the music, you may have sufficient information with just short excerpts. Always seek the professor's advice and suggestions.
  4. Be sure that the professor's email address is provided on the syllabus for the transcriber to make contact for clarifications. Nearly all college teachers today will make their email available to students, and are very willing to communicate with a braille transcriber.
  5. You, the student, must seek a reader for text that cannot be brailled. Let the school know that you will take that responsibility, but ask them for assistance in finding a good volunteer. Most music departments have willing tutors who need special credit for this kind of service.
  6. Request that all of the professor's handouts be given to the transcriber according to the syllabus planned due dates. Be sure the transcriber is aware of the quizzes and exams, and when they are expected.
  7. You will most likely need funding for a professional music transcriber's services. Volunteers may be able to help, but keep in mind that professionals are paid and are expected to perform in reasonable time frames. Whereas, volunteers may only be able to work in spare time. Does the school provide any funding for transcribing services? If so, re-assure them that you will only ask for that which is absolutely necessary according to the ideas listed above. If the school itself has any funding, it will most likely be very limited. If you must resort to State Rehab funding, keep in mind that they must also be concerned with costs. Do not rely on an assumption that they will support you.
  8. Maintain contact with your transcriber. You will inevitably encounter new music code signs and rules that you do not understand. This will be true especially if you are new to music reading. Nearly all code and theory problems can be solved by simply asking the music transcriber to walk through the examples with you. Remember that they must know music well before being certified in music braille. They are your best resource. Remain in frequent contact with them.
*See also: "Problems - Solutions" - MENVI Journal, Issues 8 and 15 -

**Reprinted with permission from: "A Blind Music Student's College Survival Guide" - Richard Taesch

  1. MYTH: All textbooks must be fully prepared in braille prior to beginning classes.
  2. MYTH: It is a blind student's responsibility to make sure that he or she obtains the services of a music transcriber.
  3. MYTH: Professors often travel when classes are not in session. It is not practical to request a syllabus before classes begin.
  4. MYTH: As a braille reader, you should request all books to be provided in braille for you, complete, and in required BANA format.
  5. MYTH: One primary problem for braille readers is that of poor "turn-around- time" on the part of over-worked transcribers, and the fact that there are so few experienced music transcribers available.
    • FACT: The chief problem with music braille is not poor turn-around time on the part of transcribers. The problem is nearly always a lack of planning on the part of students, directors and teachers with respect to blind students in their classes.
    MYTH: Music textbooks should not be put on tape by a reader in lieu of braille transcriptions.
    • FACT: The student's literary skills are not the issue here. Getting the special braille codes that music requires in hand, and on time, is top priority. Plan to request the help of a volunteer "reader" for text materials when full books will not be available on time. This may be the only way a student will be able to complete his or her class.
  6. MYTH: Transcribers must be expected to complete all music excerpts in a class- required textbook.
    • FACT: Sometimes only a small percentage of music examples or exercises in a book will be required. Generally, a professor will have an idea - before class begins - on which materials he or she will require. Even when a short time for planning has been allowed, decisions can still be made "as-you-go," and yet be sufficiently in advance of a class project.
  7. MYTH: Rehabilitation Counselors are on your side, and will do everything possible to support you in your pursuit of a music education.
    • FACT: Many Rehab Officers are truly doing everything they can to help their clients. However, when state budgets are being severely cut in the arts and education, they are less likely to support music. Time and again, students are being told by their Rehab Counselors that pursuit of music in their education is "un-realistic."
  8. MYTH: You should trust the advice of Counselors who feel music is not realistic for you, and pursue another field.
    • FACT: Students should know that it is the job of Rehab to support a disabled person in his or her pursuit of eventual independence and employment. Although they must base decisions upon current facts and required guidelines, it should not be acceptable for them to discourage viability - or employment opportunities - that might result from a thorough music education! It might be well to note that articles in major magazines have pointed out that certain corporations have been known to look very favorably on music degrees in their hiring policies.* Music grads can make fine computer programmers, and often work in other areas such as education, copyrights, and entertainment industry fields. Any degree only serves to prove that you have the ability to stick to something. It cannot guarantee your skills or experience no matter what the field.
*[Note: See: U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics - Musicians, Singers, and Related Workers]
**Reprinted with permission from: "A Blind Music Student's College Survival Guide" - Richard Taesch

The Presenters for this program were:

  1. Richard Taesch - Southern California Conservatory of Music, Braille Music Division; Music Specialist California Transcribers and Educators of the Visually Handicapped (CTEVH)
  2. Susan Cullen - Adaptive Technology Specialist, Center on Disabilities - California State University, Northridge
  3. Grant Horrocks - Co-chair, SCCM Braille Music Division; Chair - SCCM Piano Department; Los Angeles Representative - Examination Center, [formerly called:] Royal American Conservatory of Music (Toronto)


The following is in table format. Columns for the sighted follow each other as follows: name of organization: E-mail address: web site(s): phone number. If the column has an N/A no data is available.
MENVI online roster catalogue
name E-mail address web site(s) phone number
CNIB (Canada) N/A N/A
RNIB N/A Reveal Online Database N/A
National Library for the Blind N/A National Library for the Blind Web site or OPAC Catalogue Login N/A
lighthouse N/A Lighthouse International N/A
National Braille Association, Inc. N/A National Braille Association web site 585-427-8260
NLS NLS home page 800-424-8567
American Printing House for the blind APH web site 800-223-1839
braille music files on line] n/a ebrass web site n/a
Alternate Text Production Center n/a ATPC web site 800-858-9984

Braille Music Transcribers*

*See member listings in roster; others, contact:

  1. Becker, Lindley, FL
  2. Bertevelli, Isabel - Brasil
  3. Conn, Jacqui - Australia
  4. Davis, Cheryl - TX
  5. Dodson, Christine - TX
  6. Dortch - NV
  7. Downing, Bettie - FL
  8. Harris, Terry - CA
  9. Hirshson, Melissa (NBP) - MA
  10. Irwig, Millie - KS
  11. Jackson, David B. - NY
  12. Kelly, Carolyn - NV
  13. Lehmann, Heidi - France
  14. McKenney, Beverly - FL
  15. Miller, Patricia - TX
  16. Ray, Kent F. - CA
  17. Roberts-Dupasquier, Cheryl - Canada
  18. Scarborough, Victoria - KY
  19. Shellman, Lyale - CA
  20. Smith, Lawrence - MI
  21. Taesch, Richard - CA
  22. Wallace, Ruth - CA
  23. Walton, Lindy B. - WI
  24. Wright, Sari - Canada
*These lists may not be complete. They are based solely upon available information provided to us by members. Accuracy is not guaranteed.

NOTE: Two new Specialists have been appointed to take over College/University Disabled Student Services. See the following updated contact list:

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 Piano Music Library Resources Stephanie Pieck, Concert Pianist; Braille Music Instructor for New York Commission for the Blind and Visually Handicapped
  3. Braille Music Textbooks and Formats Ed Godfrey, Braille Program Assistant, Washington Talking Book and Braille Library, Seattle
  4. College/University Disabled Student Services
    • Mary Ann Cummins-Prager ED.D-Center on Disabilities-Cal State University, Northridge
    • Jefrey Senge, Information and Computer Access Program-Cal State Fullerton
  5. Electronic Music and VI Computer Music Arts David Pinto, VI Computer Composition SCCM and Los Angeles Pierce College
  6. International Braille Music Code Mrs. bettye Krolick, Compiler New International Manual of Braille Music Notation
  7. Large Print Joan Hudson-Miller, President, Library Reproduction Service (LRS)
  8. Music Therapy John Heine, Music Therapist, The Missouri School for The Blind or
  9. Music Transcriber Training and Certification Karen Gearreald, Braille Music Advisor/instructor For The Library of Congress Washington DC
  10. National Braille Association Music Committee Lawrence Smith, Chairman NBA Music Committee
  11. Professional Transcriber Software and Technology Robert Stepp, President of Computer Application Specialties Company (Ed-It Pc; Braille 2000
  12. Student Certification (Practical/Theory examinations) Grant Horrocks, L.A. Chair--Royal Conservatory of Music Examination Center; SCCM Piano and Conservatory divisions
  13. VI Computer Assisted Technology
    • Sam Flores, President of Opus Technologies
    • William McCann, President of Dancing Dots Braille Music Technology
      Visit Dancing Dots on the Web
  14. VI Resource Teacher (Middle School/High School) Denise Smith, Braille Transcriber-Liberty Jr. High School, Liberty Missouri telephone (816) 415-7049
  15. Postsecondary Braille Music Literacy and Advocacy Valerie Gaer
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