Teaching College Music Theory Classes That Include Blind Students

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Recent years have seen the expansion of educational and vocational opportunities for the physically disabled person. Architectural and legal barriers to the handicapped are being removed, and technological advancements are resulting in remarkable developments in the field of compensatory equipment.

The young blind musician is among those to profit by such changes. For example, technical developments are increasing his access to information: computer-assisted translation of inkprint into braille is accelerating the production of braille materials,1 and there is further promise for the future in various other inventions which convert inkprint to a tactile display or to synthesized speech. In addition, his opportunities for employment are widening: the teaching profession is gradually overcoming its reluctance to accept the visually handicapped person,2 and the relatively new field of music therapy has a history of ready acceptance of blind students and practitioners. In short, it is becoming increasingly feasible and appropriate for the blind musician to seek a professional education at the university level.

This study explores the situation created when a blind student enrolls in a college music theory class consisting primarily of sighted students. The special techniques needed in instructing the handicapped student and the compensatory measures required to enable him to work as an equal with his sighted colleagues constitute the principal focus of the article; the implications for the instruction of sighted students that arise from the investigation of the blind student's adaptation of the study of theory to his particular limitations and abilities form a complementary area of concern.

Over a seven-year period the author served variously as reader, tutor, and classroom teacher to six blind students at two universities (three at Michigan State University and three at the University of Texas at Austin). Their combined studies were representative of every area of the typical undergraduate theory curriculum. The observations made in the course of working with these students led to the suggestions set forth here.

 

The first two years of many college theory programs are devoted to instruction in a wide variety of concepts and skills, which may be grouped under the heading of "musicianship." Included are notation, rudiments of music and the associated terminology, ear training, keyboard skills, and elementary counterpoint and harmony.

Of fundamental importance are notation and terminology, for these are the "languages" for the communication of musical ideas. Specialized terminology facilitates the discussion of music, while notation facilitates its preservation and transmission.

The relationship between language and thought is reciprocal. It is evident that thought influences language, but it is not always recognized that language may also influence thought. Theoretical concepts and terms are often taken for granted by instructor and student alike, and relationships between concepts and the language of notation may pass unnoticed. Such relationships may be clarified by examining the manner in which a blind student comes to understand a new term, for notation is the one area of musical experience that is necessarily different for blind and sighted people, and the braille and inkprint notational systems relate differently to musical ideas.

The concept of "melodic contour" will serve as an illustration. At least one theorist, Ernst Kurth, believes that it is an immanent musical concept, unrelated to notation.3 Now if this is true, the student who is blind should develop the idea of melodic "curve" independently, as do most sighted students. This, however, is not the case. While the blind student experiences no special difficulty in understanding an explanation of melodic contour, he does not think of a succession of tones as having a "shape" unless he is taught to do so. It seems likely, therefore, that this concept, far from being independent of notation, is based at least in part on the visual image of the line formed by the representation of a series of pitches on the staff.

A beginning theory course in which both blind and sighted students are enrolled must, then, concern itself with more than merely memorizing a set of terms and symbols; the relationships among terminology, notation, and sound must be explored if there is to be communication within the class. This should also be taken into account in a class of sighted students, for while in such a case concepts such as "melodic contour" will be understood intuitively because the language of notation as well as of terminology is shared, such understanding may be rather shallow.

This is not to say that memorization of terms and symbols is undesirable; on the contrary, students need fluency as well as theoretical comprehension in using musical language. Memorization and practice are necessary in order to become fluent in any language, and musical language is no exception.

Beginning theory students very frequently are deficient in their command of language, especially notation. The student who is blind is even more likely than his sighted counterpart to be weak in notational skills, for a number of reasons. First, braille music, due to its physical character, is simply less in use than inkprint music. If a sighted person studies a musical instrument, he is not likely to memorize a phrase from the score, put aside the music, and only then begin to play; this, however, is precisely what the blind student normally must do, particularly if his instrument requires the use of both hands at all times. The sighted student can read and play at the same time, having the score before him as a constant reminder of the association between sound and symbol; this is not possible for the blind student.

A second reason is the more complex, abstract nature of braille music notation as compared with inkprint notation. While it is physically possible, for instance, for a singer to read from a braille score and perform at the same time, it is not practical in most cases because braille cannot be read as rapidly as inkprint. Symbols must be read individually, in succession; a measure or phrase cannot be grasped at a glance, complete with indications of tempo, dynamics, and articulation, as it can be in inkprint notation. Furthermore, the user of an inkprint score relies heavily on the "picture" it presents of a musical line. One does not always need to identify every note separately; knowing the key, the durations, and the first and last notes of a scalar passage is quite enough if there are not unexpected chromatic alterations. Such a "picture" simply does not exist in braille music. The impossibility or at least impracticality of reading and performing simultaneously, then, leads the blind musician to depend more upon memory than upon notation.

A third reason lies in the nature of the blind student's pre-college musical training. If he attends a school for the blind and receives musical education there, he will be acquainted with braille music, since his teachers will have been prepared to teach him by that means. Nowadays, however, more and more blind students are attending public schools. While this is beneficial to the student's general education, his musical training may suffer; most public school and private music teachers do not know braille notation, and too often they find it simpler to teach their few blind pupils exclusively by rote, not realizing that they themselves need not be skilled in reading braille music in order for their students to use it.

It is entirely possible, then, for a blind student to enter college quite capable as a performer but unable to read music. Since he will need to know braille music in order to take notes in class and to write exercises in dictation and first drafts of composition assignments, he must remedy this deficiency as quickly as possible. There may be someone in the community who can tutor him in braille notation; the state commission for the blind can probably direct him to such a person if he does not already know of one. If the student cannot find or does not want a tutor, he can learn the braille music code from the Primer of Braille Music4 or through the correspondence course offered by the Hadley School for the Blind.5

The theory instructor need not assume the responsibility of teaching his student braille music,6 but there are things that he can do to facilitate the student's mastery of it. First, he can direct the student who does not know braille music to begin to learn it as soon as he discovers that such a student plans to enroll in his class. It is quite possible that the instructor will learn of this at the time of the student's application for admission or pre-enrollment interview and thus help the student to complete most of his remedial work before classes begin; in any case, the sooner such work is begun, the better. Second, since many sighted students also need work on notational skills, the first assignments are likely to be directed toward this end. The instructor can have the student hand in braille copies of appropriate assignments and ask the student to explain the braille work to him. For example, a common type of elementary exercise involves writing the notes that form specified intervals with a given note. An exercise such as this can be done in braille without any adaptation. Certain other exercises, while they are not in their original form appropriate for a blind student's use, have near equivalents that can be done in braille. Thus, instead of copying inkprint music symbols or a few phrases of print music, the blind student can make a braille copy of an excerpt from a piece in his performance repertoire.

Another way in which the instructor can help his student to master braille music is to have him present a brief explanation of that notational system to the class. Teaching a subject clarifies an individual's own understanding of it; the blind student will improve his knowledge of braille music not only in preparing to teach it, but also in the very act of explaining it, as questions from the class force him to examine his information from different points of view. The class too will benefit from such a presentation; in addition to satisfying curiosity about the blind student's mode of reading and writing, an explanation of the braille music code will lead the sighted students to compare it with the inkprint system and to examine the latter and its relationship to sound and terminology more carefully than they otherwise might. The psychological benefits of assuring the blind student from the outset that he is a participating member of the class (with, indeed, special contributions to offer) are also not to be forgotten.

 

Ear training is another vital aspect of the musicianship program. The problems involved in ear training are about the same for blind and sighted students unacquainted with musical notation. (If anything, the blind student is at an advantage due to his acquired capacity for sustained attention in listening.) Inkprint and braille notation, however, tend to shape musical thinking in different ways. The more graphic inkprint notation permits one to absorb an entire phrase at a glance; harmony, melody, rhythmic organization, and dynamics are all readily apparent, and no one element commands special attention. The user of inkprint music is therefore disposed to consider all of these aspects of music in any discussion of it. Braille music, on the other hand, is neither so pictorial nor so balanced in its emphasis on the various musical elements. Rather than showing every note of simultaneous musical lines, it notates the intervals sounded along with a given bass or soprano tone. This necessarily focuses attention on vertical rather than linear structures, on the musical event of the given moment rather than the musical idea unfolding in time. Because of this vertical emphasis in braille music, the blind student is often superior to his sighted classmates in the aural study of intervals and chords; he is more familiar with them because his notational system forces him to pay close attention to them.

The advantage in the study of melody, on the other hand, lies largely on the side of sighted students. The beginning stages of study are easier for them because the pictorial character of inkprint music makes it possible even for those with undeveloped aural skills to get at least a rough idea of a melody simply from the spacing of notes on the page. While this initial superiority is soon lost with respect to pitch, because students using braille music bypass this "aural approximation" and learn precision in pitch and intervals from the outset, the advantage in the study of rhythm remains with the sighted students. The intellectual understanding of rhythm acquired through the careful inspection necessitated by braille music is of little value in its performance or recognition, for musical rhythm is not merely an abstract mathematical idea. Its perception involves the tendency to group recurrent stimuli by reason of intensity or duration, or both.7

It follows, then, that efficient rhythmic reading and dictation will also involve the grouping of symbols on the page of the musical score. Wolfgang Köhler cites several conditions that favor the grouping of sensory stimuli: proximity, equality, and closure.8 These factors operate quite differently in braille and inkprint music. In inkprint music, for example, there is ordinarily some effort to place notes of short duration closer together than those of comparatively long duration. In braille music, on the other hand, all symbols are equidistant, save that a space is used in lieu of the inkprint barline. Proximity thus affects grouping only at the measure level in braille. Inkprint notes are of various shapes and of two colors; all braille music symbols are derived from the six-dot braille cell, so differences are more subtle, and equality exerts a lesser effect on grouping. Finally, grouping occurs as a result of closure, exemplified in inkprint music by the joining together of notes by means of beams; this is completely absent in braille notation. Taking these matters into account, it is not surprising that blind students often have difficulty with the rhythmic aspects of ear training.

There are, fortunately, ways of compensating for the above-mentioned disadvantages. One is through the device of conducting (in an elementary fashion) while singing or listening, that is to say, marking time using the standard conducting pattern for the given meter. This helps to focus attention on the location within the measure of a particular event and on the joining of divisions of beats into beats and beats into measures. In addition, it forms another sensory channel, the haptic, through which learning can take place. In order to use conducting patterns effectively, the blind student should learn them by feel as well as by the description of the patterns' shapes; a good way to teach this is simply to take the student's hand and with it trace the patterns in the air, taking care to move the hand rhythmically and easily as one does in actual conducting.

Another technique that may aid the aural study of rhythm is the use of rhythmic counting syllables (analogous to the solfege syllables employed for pitch). McHose and Tibbs are the originators of one such system; in it, simple division of the beat is counted "one-te two-te," the addition of subdivision produces "one-ta-te-ta two-ta-te-ta," compound division is counted "one-la-lee two-la-lee," and so on.9 While these syllables are most commonly employed in sight singing, students may also use them to sing back an excerpt they have heard, as an intermediate step in dictation. This helps to link the sound of a rhythmic pattern to its representation in notes; although the syllables do not specify the note value of the beat unit, they do indicate the relative values of the notes.

The field of ear training may be analyzed in two ways. The above discussion has been organized according to the subjects being studied; still to be considered are the various procedures for study, such as dictation and critical listening.

The blind student's participation in work in the area of dictation calls for few adaptive techniques. Harmonic dictation demands perhaps more modification of methods on the part of the student than do melodic and rhythmic dictation. It is better for the student to write out all the voices in harmonic dictation than to attempt to follow the customary braille usage of indicating the inner voices by interval sign only. The latter method has the disadvantage of obscuring the voice leading; moreover, it does not lend itself to the practice of writing out first the bass and soprano and then completing the inner voices on subsequent hearings, because the interval-sign method results in at least two voices on the same braille line. To write the soprano line only, for example, leaving the alto to be filled in later by means of interval signs, would be awkward because one would have to judge how many spaces to leave after each soprano note; the number of spaces would not necessarily always be the same. If, on the other hand, all the voices of a four-part texture are written out, one uses all four lines of the braille slate, which seems very convenient until one considers that a Roman-numeral analysis is frequently included in exercises in harmonic dictation. If the student wishes to work out this analysis at the same time that he does the bass line (most students find it helpful to do so, as it is often an aid in determining the voice leading of the upper parts), he may write the chord symbols (including, of course, indications of inversions) on the bottom line of the braille gauge, instead of writing the bass. Later the bass line may be derived from the chord symbols. The student may prefer instead to write out all the parts and to derive the analysis from the parts later; if he chooses this method, he will need to take special care with the notation of rhythm in order to be sure of "lining up" the voices correctly for analysis.

Taking melodic or rhythmic dictation in braille differs little from taking it in inkprint. While one can write down in inkprint music the notes of which one is sure, however, and return later to fill the gaps, it is impractical to do so in braille. For this reason it is particularly important for the blind student to memorize the music played for dictation and to write from memory, rather than to attempt to write while listening. The latter practice is not good for sighted students; it is even more detrimental to those who are blind.

Finally, the blind student must get his answers in dictation into a form that his sighted teacher can interpret (assuming that the instructor does not read braille). For this task he is not likely to have the aid of an amanuensis as he has for work prepared outside of class. In the case of routine class work, the instructor can have the student respond orally, by singing back a melody using solfege or counting syllables for an exercise in melodic or rhythmic dictation, or by giving a Roman-numeral analysis for a problem in harmonic dictation. An alternative which requires less class time is to permit the student to prepare an inkprint copy of his answers (by dictating to his amanuensis from his braille copy) outside of class, to be turned in at the next session. For a test, on the other hand, the instructor will probably want to handle matters differently. He may of course dictate the examination to the whole class, have the blind student write his answers in braille, and have the student read his answers to him at the end of the test. It has been remarked, however, that braille notation is somewhat more cumbersome than inkprint for purposes of dictation. For that reason it is often preferable to test the blind student privately, thus allowing answers to be given orally. An oral examination may also be administered in the same room where the rest of the class is taking the test, if the room is large enough; the instructor simply seats the blind student as far from the other students as possible, and has him dictate his answers softly while the rest of the class is writing. (This procedure works better than might be expected. The resulting noise is not enough to be disturbing, and the blind student's responses are not audible to his classmates if he speaks softly; this method, moreover, saves time.)

Two activities closely allied to dictation are selective listening and critical listening. Both are actually easier than dictation, but they require more modification of procedures to allow a blind student to take part. Selective listening involves the identification of a specified musical event and the determination of its numerical position in a series of similar events (in the case of intervals) or of its metric position in a passage of music (in the case of chords and rhythmic figures). This is usually done in the following manner: the student draws or is given a diagram showing the number of events in the series to take place or showing the measures and beats of the excerpt to be heard; as he listens to the passage, he moves a pencil over the diagram in tempo with the music, and when he hears the designated event, he marks the space on the diagram corresponding to its position in time or in the series. The blind student can sometimes use his slate as a "diagram," allowing one cell per interval or per beat. Since it is difficult to judge just how many spaces there are between symbols in braille if the symbols are far apart, the student should mark each beat or interval with a single dot in a particular row of the cell, using a single dot in a different row to mark occurrences of the designated event. The normal braille practice of separating measures by a space may be followed.

This procedure may not be feasible for very long passages, as a passage requiring more than four lines in braille necessitates moving the slate down a gauge. The instructor may wish, therefore, to have the blind student do some additional selective listening on an individual basis, so that the student can indicate the appearance of the given sonority or rhythmic figure by a signal such as raising his hand.

Critical listening or "negative ear training" consists of identifying the difference between a notated example and its performance; not only must the student determine what elements of the notated passage are changed in performance, he must also write down exactly what the changes are. As the blind student may find it impossible to obtain a braille copy of the ear-training text used by his class, he may not be able to do this exercise in precisely the manner outlined. A modified version of critical listening in which the blind student can participate (and which will provide an interesting variant for others) may be used for short passages. The instructor gives a verbal description in place of a notated example, or has the students take turns in doing so; for instance, a student might ask the instructor to play three or four seventh chords of specified types, or the instructor might give a Roman-numeral analysis of a short harmonic progression. The students then write down those parts of the example performed that differ from the description, or they may respond orally in turn.

Sight singing for the blind student seems a contradiction in terms. For the reasons outlined earlier, it is generally not practical to use braille music for "sight singing." If the instructor does choose to procure a braille copy of music suitable for singing and to have the blind student attempt to "sight sing" from it, he must keep in mind the difficulties inherent in reading braille music, particularly those having to do with rhythm. In order to be fair, the teacher should allow the blind student more time to examine the music than he gives his sighted students. Not only does the nature of braille music force one to read it more slowly than inkprint music, it also hinders one from grouping its symbols into units that can be quickly grasped and remembered.

The student who is blind need not, however, automatically be excluded from all the activities of a sight-singing class. He is quite capable of mastering some of the basic skills of sight singing (such as singing intervals and various scale patterns), and he should be encouraged to do so, as it will aid him in the other areas of ear training. As the class progresses to more difficult material, the handicapped student will probably be able to participate in fewer of its activities; nevertheless, the class will undoubtedly continue to make use of some drills in which he can take part and from which he will benefit, such as exercises in the performance of triads, seventh chords, and chains of intervals. For these activities, the blind student should employ whatever system of solmisation his sighted classmates use.

The blind student's participation in actual class work in sight singing depends in part upon the structure of the ear-training curriculum. When a part of each class session in ear training is devoted to sight singing, the student will attend class and take part in as many of its activities as he can; when, however, there is a separate class for sight singing, it is often preferable for the student to work individually with the instructor or a teaching assistant on the particular "sight singing" skills that will be more beneficial to him.

 

The remaining subjects of the typical freshman-sophomore theory sequence (keyboard, harmony, and elementary counterpoint) cause the blind student no especial difficulties. Classroom procedure needs to be modified only slightly in order to keep the blind student on an equal footing with his fellow students.

One necessary compensatory measure is the use of verbal commentary. All visual illustrations used should be described; terms or names written on the chalkboard should be spelled aloud. Musical examples should of course always be performed.

The other essential modification of normal procedure involves the administration of examinations. Unless the teacher knows braille, he will need to test the blind student orally. The recommendations given above with respect to dictation examinations apply equally well to other theory tests.

The blind student himself naturally employs methods of working that differ from those used by his classmates. If the books and musical scores required for the course are not already available in braille,10 he will need to employ a reader or to have the materials recorded or transcribed. This is the responsibility of the student, not of the instructor, but if the latter knows in advance that a blind student is to be in his class, he can help the student greatly just by telling him as soon as possible what the materials for the course will be. There are organizations that record books and transcribe music upon request,11 but the process requires some time; knowing early what texts and scores he will need will enable the student to utilize this means of obtaining materials. The student may find it preferable to employ readers instead; the instructor can help in this case by allowing the student to announce in class that he is looking for people for this work. Often members of the class will be happy to do some reading for their colleague; they have to do the assignments anyway, and this gives them a chance to be paid for it. (The state generally provides funds for this purpose.) This will overcome the difficulty that a blind student most often faces in obtaining readers for music courses, namely that of finding qualified individuals, for the job demands the ability to read music, and some facility at the keyboard as well.

For written assignments the blind student usually employs an amanuensis. Often readers double as amanuenses; the instructor may take a dim view of this, however, if the blind student's classmates are acting as his readers. It is better for the student to choose amanuenses who are not members of his own theory class.

A few assignments may not require the writing of any music. These the blind student can prepare himself, using a typewriter. In any case, whether the methods of working are the same or different, blind and sighted students should be expected to achieve results of equally high quality.

 

The subject matter of the usual advanced undergraduate music theory courses (modal and tonal counterpoint, orchestration, form and analysis, composition, and twentieth-century idioms) is no more difficult for the blind than for the sighted student. By the time he reaches his junior year, the blind student will have overcome any problems with concepts or communication caused by his lack of experience with inkprint notation, and he will be adept at using braille notation. Classes can be conducted just as if all the students were sighted, save that additional verbal commentary is necessary in order to interpret information presented visually. In cases where much information is given in the form of lectures, the blind student should of course be permitted to tape record the lectures if he finds that preferable to taking notes in braille.

In general, the same work should be required of blind and sighted students alike. The instructor should, however, be aware of the methods used by the blind student in doing his work, as in some instances they justify a slight modification of the format of the completed assignment.

Analysis papers represent one such case. Specific points under discussion may be illustrated in one of two ways: by the insertion of musical examples into the text, or by reference to measure numbers in a score which is submitted along with the paper. If the latter method is permitted, it is very much to the blind student's benefit, for he can type his own paper and thus be freed for once from his constant dependence upon an amanuensis.

It should be noted that the content of the paper is not affected by this concession. Due to the shortage of braille music, the blind student must do most of his work in analysis aurally; this is harder and more time-consuming than analysis done with the aid of a score, particularly in the case of music incorporating compositional devices not readily apparent to the ear, such as retrograde. The greater difficulty of aural analysis, nevertheless, should neither lead the instructor to expect, nor the handicapped student to produce, inferior work.

Assignments in composition, counterpoint, and orchestration require a great deal of time for the blind student. Not only must he do the actual work, he must also dictate the completed assignment to his amanuensis. The latter process often takes nearly as much time as the work itself. When the final copy must be in ink, still more time is required—of the amanuensis. The instructor should remember that it is the blind student's amanuensis, not the student himself, who is responsible for the appearance of his papers. Although sighted students profit from learning to prepare legible ink music manuscript, the student who is blind does not. To ask the blind student to submit assignments in ink is to ask him to employ an amanuensis to do work from which he derives no significant benefit. When a composition is to be performed, ink copies may be justified for the sake of the performers' ease in reading, but when an assignment is only to be read by the instructor, a neat pencil copy should suffice.

Examination of the blind student in most subjects is best done orally. A few courses, however, such as twentieth-century idioms and form and analysis, may sometimes have tests containing questions whose answers do not require musical notation. If such questions constitute a large part of the examination, the instructor may wish to read that part of the test to the student and have the student type his own answers.

 

In summary, it may be stated that significant modification of normal classroom procedure for the sake of the visually handicapped student is necessary only in beginning theory courses. The blind student's lack of familiarity with inkprint music notation may at first inhibit his understanding of certain terms and concepts that are associated with that notational system. Exercises dealing specifically with notation must sometimes be altered when they are adapted to braille use. Methods of ear training also must frequently be modified, partly because of the difficulty of securing appropriate braille materials and partly because of the abstract nature of the braille music code.

The manner in which an upper-division course is conducted, on the other hand, is only slightly affected by the presence of a blind student. Verbal description is needed to explain information presented to the class visually, all musical examples must be performed as well as written, and examinations must be specially administered. The instructor may wish, in addition, to permit some modification of the format (though not of the content) of assignments submitted by the blind student.

 

While it has been possible in this paper to treat thoroughly the matter of adaptive techniques for the instruction of the blind student of music theory, further research is indicated concerning the implications of the handicapped student's mode of learning for the teaching of sighted students. In recent years, college theory curricula have been subjected to a great deal of scrutiny and revision. One important pedagogical trend is the separation of the "basic musicianship" program from speculative theory. Central to the development of this "musicianship" curriculum is the identification of essential skills and of the procedures by which they may most efficiently be mastered. The view of the interaction of visual and auditory stimuli afforded by this study should provide some insight into this latter question, but more research in this area is needed; it will be possible to draw definite conclusions only after a larger group has been examined under controlled experimental conditions.

For the present, however, the effects of this study on blind college music students and their teachers remain the principal concern. It is hoped that the information presented here will enable instructors to teach their handicapped students more easily and effectively, and that it will help those students to attain their educational and professional goals.


1U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, Office of Education, Computer-Translation: Grade 2 Braille from Print. Final Report, by Ann Schack, et al., U.S. Educational Resources Information Center, Office of Education Research Reports ED 036 931 (Louisville, Ky.: American Printing House for the Blind, 1969), pp. 12-18; "New Score for the Blind," Music Educators Journal, 58 (Nov. 1971), 19.

2In New York, for instance, a 1967 amendment to the State Education Law provides that an otherwise qualified teacher may not be refused employment solely on the basis of his lack of sight.

3Musikpsychologie (1931; rpt. Hildesheim and New York: Georg Olms Verlag, 1969), p. 255.

4Edward W. Jenkins, comp., Primer of Braille Music: New Revised Edition, 1960 (Louisville, Ky.: American Printing House for the Blind, 1964).

5How to Read Braille Music Notation (Hadley School for the Blind, 700 Elm Street, Winnetka, IL 60093).

6In fact, it is not even necessary for the instructor to learn braille notation, although he should certainly acquaint himself with its basic principles. A good short exposition of the braille music code may be found in Doris G. Herlein's article, "Music Reading for the Sightless: Braille Notation," Music Educators Journal, 62 (Sept. 1975), 42-45; a number of works, including an inkprint edition of the Primer of Braille Music, are available to the sighted person who wants a more thorough grounding in braille music.

7Carl E. Seashore, "The Sense of Rhythm as a Musical Talent," Musical Quarterly, 4 (1918), 508.

8Gestalt Psychology (1947; rpt. New York: Liveright, 1970), pp. 143-159.

9Allen Irvine McHose and Ruth Northrup Tibbs, Sight-Singing Manual, 3rd ed. (New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts, Inc., 1957).

10The Union Catalog of Braille Music, compiled by the Library of Congress, lists braille scores and books about music held by that library and by cooperating institutions, with their locations. Requests for information and for available materials may be directed to: Music Section, Division for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, Library of Congress, 1292 Taylor Street, N.W., Washington, DC 20542. A list of additional services that the Library of Congress offers to the visually handicapped is included in Eyler R. Coates, "Music for the Blind and Physically Handicapped from the Library of Congress," American Music Teacher, 25 (Feb.-March 1976), 21-24.

11Recording for the Blind, Inc. (215 East 58th Street, New York, NY 10022) is a volunteer organization that records educational books free at the request of blind students and their teachers. Sigma Alpha Iota (a professional music fraternity for women) operates an extensive volunteer braille music transcription project; the address of the current Braille Project chairman may be obtained from the directory included in each issue of the fraternity's journal, Pan Pipes, or from Sigma Alpha Iota's National Executive Office (4119 Rollins Avenue, Des Moines, IA 50312).

Recent years have seen the expansion of educational and vocational opportunities for the physically disabled person. Architectural and legal barriers to the handicapped are being removed, and technological advancements are resulting in remarkable developments in the field of compensatory equipment.

The young blind musician is among those to profit by such changes. For example, technical developments are increasing his access to information: computer-assisted translation of inkprint into braille is accelerating the production of braille materials,1 and there is further promise for the future in various other inventions which convert inkprint to a tactile display or to synthesized speech. In addition, his opportunities for employment are widening: the teaching profession is gradually overcoming its reluctance to accept the visually handicapped person,2 and the relatively new field of music therapy has a history of ready acceptance of blind students and practitioners. In short, it is becoming increasingly feasible and appropriate for the blind musician to seek a professional education at the university level.

This study explores the situation created when a blind student enrolls in a college music theory class consisting primarily of sighted students. The special techniques needed in instructing the handicapped student and the compensatory measures required to enable him to work as an equal with his sighted colleagues constitute the principal focus of the article; the implications for the instruction of sighted students that arise from the investigation of the blind student's adaptation of the study of theory to his particular limitations and abilities form a complementary area of concern.

Over a seven-year period the author served variously as reader, tutor, and classroom teacher to six blind students at two universities (three at Michigan State University and three at the University of Texas at Austin). Their combined studies were representative of every area of the typical undergraduate theory curriculum. The observations made in the course of working with these students led to the suggestions set forth here.

 

The first two years of many college theory programs are devoted to instruction in a wide variety of concepts and skills, which may be grouped under the heading of "musicianship." Included are notation, rudiments of music and the associated terminology, ear training, keyboard skills, and elementary counterpoint and harmony.

Of fundamental importance are notation and terminology, for these are the "languages" for the communication of musical ideas. Specialized terminology facilitates the discussion of music, while notation facilitates its preservation and transmission.

The relationship between language and thought is reciprocal. It is evident that thought influences language, but it is not always recognized that language may also influence thought. Theoretical concepts and terms are often taken for granted by instructor and student alike, and relationships between concepts and the language of notation may pass unnoticed. Such relationships may be clarified by examining the manner in which a blind student comes to understand a new term, for notation is the one area of musical experience that is necessarily different for blind and sighted people, and the braille and inkprint notational systems relate differently to musical ideas.

The concept of "melodic contour" will serve as an illustration. At least one theorist, Ernst Kurth, believes that it is an immanent musical concept, unrelated to notation.3 Now if this is true, the student who is blind should develop the idea of melodic "curve" independently, as do most sighted students. This, however, is not the case. While the blind student experiences no special difficulty in understanding an explanation of melodic contour, he does not think of a succession of tones as having a "shape" unless he is taught to do so. It seems likely, therefore, that this concept, far from being independent of notation, is based at least in part on the visual image of the line formed by the representation of a series of pitches on the staff.

A beginning theory course in which both blind and sighted students are enrolled must, then, concern itself with more than merely memorizing a set of terms and symbols; the relationships among terminology, notation, and sound must be explored if there is to be communication within the class. This should also be taken into account in a class of sighted students, for while in such a case concepts such as "melodic contour" will be understood intuitively because the language of notation as well as of terminology is shared, such understanding may be rather shallow.

This is not to say that memorization of terms and symbols is undesirable; on the contrary, students need fluency as well as theoretical comprehension in using musical language. Memorization and practice are necessary in order to become fluent in any language, and musical language is no exception.

Beginning theory students very frequently are deficient in their command of language, especially notation. The student who is blind is even more likely than his sighted counterpart to be weak in notational skills, for a number of reasons. First, braille music, due to its physical character, is simply less in use than inkprint music. If a sighted person studies a musical instrument, he is not likely to memorize a phrase from the score, put aside the music, and only then begin to play; this, however, is precisely what the blind student normally must do, particularly if his instrument requires the use of both hands at all times. The sighted student can read and play at the same time, having the score before him as a constant reminder of the association between sound and symbol; this is not possible for the blind student.

A second reason is the more complex, abstract nature of braille music notation as compared with inkprint notation. While it is physically possible, for instance, for a singer to read from a braille score and perform at the same time, it is not practical in most cases because braille cannot be read as rapidly as inkprint. Symbols must be read individually, in succession; a measure or phrase cannot be grasped at a glance, complete with indications of tempo, dynamics, and articulation, as it can be in inkprint notation. Furthermore, the user of an inkprint score relies heavily on the "picture" it presents of a musical line. One does not always need to identify every note separately; knowing the key, the durations, and the first and last notes of a scalar passage is quite enough if there are not unexpected chromatic alterations. Such a "picture" simply does not exist in braille music. The impossibility or at least impracticality of reading and performing simultaneously, then, leads the blind musician to depend more upon memory than upon notation.

A third reason lies in the nature of the blind student's pre-college musical training. If he attends a school for the blind and receives musical education there, he will be acquainted with braille music, since his teachers will have been prepared to teach him by that means. Nowadays, however, more and more blind students are attending public schools. While this is beneficial to the student's general education, his musical training may suffer; most public school and private music teachers do not know braille notation, and too often they find it simpler to teach their few blind pupils exclusively by rote, not realizing that they themselves need not be skilled in reading braille music in order for their students to use it.

It is entirely possible, then, for a blind student to enter college quite capable as a performer but unable to read music. Since he will need to know braille music in order to take notes in class and to write exercises in dictation and first drafts of composition assignments, he must remedy this deficiency as quickly as possible. There may be someone in the community who can tutor him in braille notation; the state commission for the blind can probably direct him to such a person if he does not already know of one. If the student cannot find or does not want a tutor, he can learn the braille music code from the Primer of Braille Music4 or through the correspondence course offered by the Hadley School for the Blind.5

The theory instructor need not assume the responsibility of teaching his student braille music,6 but there are things that he can do to facilitate the student's mastery of it. First, he can direct the student who does not know braille music to begin to learn it as soon as he discovers that such a student plans to enroll in his class. It is quite possible that the instructor will learn of this at the time of the student's application for admission or pre-enrollment interview and thus help the student to complete most of his remedial work before classes begin; in any case, the sooner such work is begun, the better. Second, since many sighted students also need work on notational skills, the first assignments are likely to be directed toward this end. The instructor can have the student hand in braille copies of appropriate assignments and ask the student to explain the braille work to him. For example, a common type of elementary exercise involves writing the notes that form specified intervals with a given note. An exercise such as this can be done in braille without any adaptation. Certain other exercises, while they are not in their original form appropriate for a blind student's use, have near equivalents that can be done in braille. Thus, instead of copying inkprint music symbols or a few phrases of print music, the blind student can make a braille copy of an excerpt from a piece in his performance repertoire.

Another way in which the instructor can help his student to master braille music is to have him present a brief explanation of that notational system to the class. Teaching a subject clarifies an individual's own understanding of it; the blind student will improve his knowledge of braille music not only in preparing to teach it, but also in the very act of explaining it, as questions from the class force him to examine his information from different points of view. The class too will benefit from such a presentation; in addition to satisfying curiosity about the blind student's mode of reading and writing, an explanation of the braille music code will lead the sighted students to compare it with the inkprint system and to examine the latter and its relationship to sound and terminology more carefully than they otherwise might. The psychological benefits of assuring the blind student from the outset that he is a participating member of the class (with, indeed, special contributions to offer) are also not to be forgotten.

 

Ear training is another vital aspect of the musicianship program. The problems involved in ear training are about the same for blind and sighted students unacquainted with musical notation. (If anything, the blind student is at an advantage due to his acquired capacity for sustained attention in listening.) Inkprint and braille notation, however, tend to shape musical thinking in different ways. The more graphic inkprint notation permits one to absorb an entire phrase at a glance; harmony, melody, rhythmic organization, and dynamics are all readily apparent, and no one element commands special attention. The user of inkprint music is therefore disposed to consider all of these aspects of music in any discussion of it. Braille music, on the other hand, is neither so pictorial nor so balanced in its emphasis on the various musical elements. Rather than showing every note of simultaneous musical lines, it notates the intervals sounded along with a given bass or soprano tone. This necessarily focuses attention on vertical rather than linear structures, on the musical event of the given moment rather than the musical idea unfolding in time. Because of this vertical emphasis in braille music, the blind student is often superior to his sighted classmates in the aural study of intervals and chords; he is more familiar with them because his notational system forces him to pay close attention to them.

The advantage in the study of melody, on the other hand, lies largely on the side of sighted students. The beginning stages of study are easier for them because the pictorial character of inkprint music makes it possible even for those with undeveloped aural skills to get at least a rough idea of a melody simply from the spacing of notes on the page. While this initial superiority is soon lost with respect to pitch, because students using braille music bypass this "aural approximation" and learn precision in pitch and intervals from the outset, the advantage in the study of rhythm remains with the sighted students. The intellectual understanding of rhythm acquired through the careful inspection necessitated by braille music is of little value in its performance or recognition, for musical rhythm is not merely an abstract mathematical idea. Its perception involves the tendency to group recurrent stimuli by reason of intensity or duration, or both.7

It follows, then, that efficient rhythmic reading and dictation will also involve the grouping of symbols on the page of the musical score. Wolfgang Kler cites several conditions that favor the grouping of sensory stimuli: proximity, equality, and closure.8 These factors operate quite differently in braille and inkprint music. In inkprint music, for example, there is ordinarily some effort to place notes of short duration closer together than those of comparatively long duration. In braille music, on the other hand, all symbols are equidistant, save that a space is used in lieu of the inkprint barline. Proximity thus affects grouping only at the measure level in braille. Inkprint notes are of various shapes and of two colors; all braille music symbols are derived from the six-dot braille cell, so differences are more subtle, and equality exerts a lesser effect on grouping. Finally, grouping occurs as a result of closure, exemplified in inkprint music by the joining together of notes by means of beams; this is completely absent in braille notation. Taking these matters into account, it is not surprising that blind students often have difficulty with the rhythmic aspects of ear training.

There are, fortunately, ways of compensating for the above-mentioned disadvantages. One is through the device of conducting (in an elementary fashion) while singing or listening, that is to say, marking time using the standard conducting pattern for the given meter. This helps to focus attention on the location within the measure of a particular event and on the joining of divisions of beats into beats and beats into measures. In addition, it forms another sensory channel, the haptic, through which learning can take place. In order to use conducting patterns effectively, the blind student should learn them by feel as well as by the description of the patterns' shapes; a good way to teach this is simply to take the student's hand and with it trace the patterns in the air, taking care to move the hand rhythmically and easily as one does in actual conducting.

Another technique that may aid the aural study of rhythm is the use of rhythmic counting syllables (analogous to the solfege syllables employed for pitch). McHose and Tibbs are the originators of one such system; in it, simple division of the beat is counted "one-te two-te," the addition of subdivision produces "one-ta-te-ta two-ta-te-ta," compound division is counted "one-la-lee two-la-lee," and so on.9 While these syllables are most commonly employed in sight singing, students may also use them to sing back an excerpt they have heard, as an intermediate step in dictation. This helps to link the sound of a rhythmic pattern to its representation in notes; although the syllables do not specify the note value of the beat unit, they do indicate the relative values of the notes.

The field of ear training may be analyzed in two ways. The above discussion has been organized according to the subjects being studied; still to be considered are the various procedures for study, such as dictation and critical listening.

The blind student's participation in work in the area of dictation calls for few adaptive techniques. Harmonic dictation demands perhaps more modification of methods on the part of the student than do melodic and rhythmic dictation. It is better for the student to write out all the voices in harmonic dictation than to attempt to follow the customary braille usage of indicating the inner voices by interval sign only. The latter method has the disadvantage of obscuring the voice leading; moreover, it does not lend itself to the practice of writing out first the bass and soprano and then completing the inner voices on subsequent hearings, because the interval-sign method results in at least two voices on the same braille line. To write the soprano line only, for example, leaving the alto to be filled in later by means of interval signs, would be awkward because one would have to judge how many spaces to leave after each soprano note; the number of spaces would not necessarily always be the same. If, on the other hand, all the voices of a four-part texture are written out, one uses all four lines of the braille slate, which seems very convenient until one considers that a Roman-numeral analysis is frequently included in exercises in harmonic dictation. If the student wishes to work out this analysis at the same time that he does the bass line (most students find it helpful to do so, as it is often an aid in determining the voice leading of the upper parts), he may write the chord symbols (including, of course, indications of inversions) on the bottom line of the braille gauge, instead of writing the bass. Later the bass line may be derived from the chord symbols. The student may prefer instead to write out all the parts and to derive the analysis from the parts later; if he chooses this method, he will need to take special care with the notation of rhythm in order to be sure of "lining up" the voices correctly for analysis.

Taking melodic or rhythmic dictation in braille differs little from taking it in inkprint. While one can write down in inkprint music the notes of which one is sure, however, and return later to fill the gaps, it is impractical to do so in braille. For this reason it is particularly important for the blind student to memorize the music played for dictation and to write from memory, rather than to attempt to write while listening. The latter practice is not good for sighted students; it is even more detrimental to those who are blind.

Finally, the blind student must get his answers in dictation into a form that his sighted teacher can interpret (assuming that the instructor does not read braille). For this task he is not likely to have the aid of an amanuensis as he has for work prepared outside of class. In the case of routine class work, the instructor can have the student respond orally, by singing back a melody using solfege or counting syllables for an exercise in melodic or rhythmic dictation, or by giving a Roman-numeral analysis for a problem in harmonic dictation. An alternative which requires less class time is to permit the student to prepare an inkprint copy of his answers (by dictating to his amanuensis from his braille copy) outside of class, to be turned in at the next session. For a test, on the other hand, the instructor will probably want to handle matters differently. He may of course dictate the examination to the whole class, have the blind student write his answers in braille, and have the student read his answers to him at the end of the test. It has been remarked, however, that braille notation is somewhat more cumbersome than inkprint for purposes of dictation. For that reason it is often preferable to test the blind student privately, thus allowing answers to be given orally. An oral examination may also be administered in the same room where the rest of the class is taking the test, if the room is large enough; the instructor simply seats the blind student as far from the other students as possible, and has him dictate his answers softly while the rest of the class is writing. (This procedure works better than might be expected. The resulting noise is not enough to be disturbing, and the blind student's responses are not audible to his classmates if he speaks softly; this method, moreover, saves time.)

Two activities closely allied to dictation are selective listening and critical listening. Both are actually easier than dictation, but they require more modification of procedures to allow a blind student to take part. Selective listening involves the identification of a specified musical event and the determination of its numerical position in a series of similar events (in the case of intervals) or of its metric position in a passage of music (in the case of chords and rhythmic figures). This is usually done in the following manner: the student draws or is given a diagram showing the number of events in the series to take place or showing the measures and beats of the excerpt to be heard; as he listens to the passage, he moves a pencil over the diagram in tempo with the music, and when he hears the designated event, he marks the space on the diagram corresponding to its position in time or in the series. The blind student can sometimes use his slate as a "diagram," allowing one cell per interval or per beat. Since it is difficult to judge just how many spaces there are between symbols in braille if the symbols are far apart, the student should mark each beat or interval with a single dot in a particular row of the cell, using a single dot in a different row to mark occurrences of the designated event. The normal braille practice of separating measures by a space may be followed.

This procedure may not be feasible for very long passages, as a passage requiring more than four lines in braille necessitates moving the slate down a gauge. The instructor may wish, therefore, to have the blind student do some additional selective listening on an individual basis, so that the student can indicate the appearance of the given sonority or rhythmic figure by a signal such as raising his hand.

Critical listening or "negative ear training" consists of identifying the difference between a notated example and its performance; not only must the student determine what elements of the notated passage are changed in performance, he must also write down exactly what the changes are. As the blind student may find it impossible to obtain a braille copy of the ear-training text used by his class, he may not be able to do this exercise in precisely the manner outlined. A modified version of critical listening in which the blind student can participate (and which will provide an interesting variant for others) may be used for short passages. The instructor gives a verbal description in place of a notated example, or has the students take turns in doing so; for instance, a student might ask the instructor to play three or four seventh chords of specified types, or the instructor might give a Roman-numeral analysis of a short harmonic progression. The students then write down those parts of the example performed that differ from the description, or they may respond orally in turn.

Sight singing for the blind student seems a contradiction in terms. For the reasons outlined earlier, it is generally not practical to use braille music for "sight singing." If the instructor does choose to procure a braille copy of music suitable for singing and to have the blind student attempt to "sight sing" from it, he must keep in mind the difficulties inherent in reading braille music, particularly those having to do with rhythm. In order to be fair, the teacher should allow the blind student more time to examine the music than he gives his sighted students. Not only does the nature of braille music force one to read it more slowly than inkprint music, it also hinders one from grouping its symbols into units that can be quickly grasped and remembered.

The student who is blind need not, however, automatically be excluded from all the activities of a sight-singing class. He is quite capable of mastering some of the basic skills of sight singing (such as singing intervals and various scale patterns), and he should be encouraged to do so, as it will aid him in the other areas of ear training. As the class progresses to more difficult material, the handicapped student will probably be able to participate in fewer of its activities; nevertheless, the class will undoubtedly continue to make use of some drills in which he can take part and from which he will benefit, such as exercises in the performance of triads, seventh chords, and chains of intervals. For these activities, the blind student should employ whatever system of solmisation his sighted classmates use.

The blind student's participation in actual class work in sight singing depends in part upon the structure of the ear-training curriculum. When a part of each class session in ear training is devoted to sight singing, the student will attend class and take part in as many of its activities as he can; when, however, there is a separate class for sight singing, it is often preferable for the student to work individually with the instructor or a teaching assistant on the particular "sight singing" skills that will be more beneficial to him.

 

The remaining subjects of the typical freshman-sophomore theory sequence (keyboard, harmony, and elementary counterpoint) cause the blind student no especial difficulties. Classroom procedure needs to be modified only slightly in order to keep the blind student on an equal footing with his fellow students.

One necessary compensatory measure is the use of verbal commentary. All visual illustrations used should be described; terms or names written on the chalkboard should be spelled aloud. Musical examples should of course always be performed.

The other essential modification of normal procedure involves the administration of examinations. Unless the teacher knows braille, he will need to test the blind student orally. The recommendations given above with respect to dictation examinations apply equally well to other theory tests.

The blind student himself naturally employs methods of working that differ from those used by his classmates. If the books and musical scores required for the course are not already available in braille,10 he will need to employ a reader or to have the materials recorded or transcribed. This is the responsibility of the student, not of the instructor, but if the latter knows in advance that a blind student is to be in his class, he can help the student greatly just by telling him as soon as possible what the materials for the course will be. There are organizations that record books and transcribe music upon request,11 but the process requires some time; knowing early what texts and scores he will need will enable the student to utilize this means of obtaining materials. The student may find it preferable to employ readers instead; the instructor can help in this case by allowing the student to announce in class that he is looking for people for this work. Often members of the class will be happy to do some reading for their colleague; they have to do the assignments anyway, and this gives them a chance to be paid for it. (The state generally provides funds for this purpose.) This will overcome the difficulty that a blind student most often faces in obtaining readers for music courses, namely that of finding qualified individuals, for the job demands the ability to read music, and some facility at the keyboard as well.

For written assignments the blind student usually employs an amanuensis. Often readers double as amanuenses; the instructor may take a dim view of this, however, if the blind student's classmates are acting as his readers. It is better for the student to choose amanuenses who are not members of his own theory class.

A few assignments may not require the writing of any music. These the blind student can prepare himself, using a typewriter. In any case, whether the methods of working are the same or different, blind and sighted students should be expected to achieve results of equally high quality.

 

The subject matter of the usual advanced undergraduate music theory courses (modal and tonal counterpoint, orchestration, form and analysis, composition, and twentieth-century idioms) is no more difficult for the blind than for the sighted student. By the time he reaches his junior year, the blind student will have overcome any problems with concepts or communication caused by his lack of experience with inkprint notation, and he will be adept at using braille notation. Classes can be conducted just as if all the students were sighted, save that additional verbal commentary is necessary in order to interpret information presented visually. In cases where much information is given in the form of lectures, the blind student should of course be permitted to tape record the lectures if he finds that preferable to taking notes in braille.

In general, the same work should be required of blind and sighted students alike. The instructor should, however, be aware of the methods used by the blind student in doing his work, as in some instances they justify a slight modification of the format of the completed assignment.

Analysis papers represent one such case. Specific points under discussion may be illustrated in one of two ways: by the insertion of musical examples into the text, or by reference to measure numbers in a score which is submitted along with the paper. If the latter method is permitted, it is very much to the blind student's benefit, for he can type his own paper and thus be freed for once from his constant dependence upon an amanuensis.

It should be noted that the content of the paper is not affected by this concession. Due to the shortage of braille music, the blind student must do most of his work in analysis aurally; this is harder and more time-consuming than analysis done with the aid of a score, particularly in the case of music incorporating compositional devices not readily apparent to the ear, such as retrograde. The greater difficulty of aural analysis, nevertheless, should neither lead the instructor to expect, nor the handicapped student to produce, inferior work.

Assignments in composition, counterpoint, and orchestration require a great deal of time for the blind student. Not only must he do the actual work, he must also dictate the completed assignment to his amanuensis. The latter process often takes nearly as much time as the work itself. When the final copy must be in ink, still more time is requiredof the amanuensis. The instructor should remember that it is the blind student's amanuensis, not the student himself, who is responsible for the appearance of his papers. Although sighted students profit from learning to prepare legible ink music manuscript, the student who is blind does not. To ask the blind student to submit assignments in ink is to ask him to employ an amanuensis to do work from which he derives no significant benefit. When a composition is to be performed, ink copies may be justified for the sake of the performers' ease in reading, but when an assignment is only to be read by the instructor, a neat pencil copy should suffice.

Examination of the blind student in most subjects is best done orally. A few courses, however, such as twentieth-century idioms and form and analysis, may sometimes have tests containing questions whose answers do not require musical notation. If such questions constitute a large part of the examination, the instructor may wish to read that part of the test to the student and have the student type his own answers.

 

In summary, it may be stated that significant modification of normal classroom procedure for the sake of the visually handicapped student is necessary only in beginning theory courses. The blind student's lack of familiarity with inkprint music notation may at first inhibit his understanding of certain terms and concepts that are associated with that notational system. Exercises dealing specifically with notation must sometimes be altered when they are adapted to braille use. Methods of ear training also must frequently be modified, partly because of the difficulty of securing appropriate braille materials and partly because of the abstract nature of the braille music code.

The manner in which an upper-division course is conducted, on the other hand, is only slightly affected by the presence of a blind student. Verbal description is needed to explain information presented to the class visually, all musical examples must be performed as well as written, and examinations must be specially administered. The instructor may wish, in addition, to permit some modification of the format (though not of the content) of assignments submitted by the blind student.

 

While it has been possible in this paper to treat thoroughly the matter of adaptive techniques for the instruction of the blind student of music theory, further research is indicated concerning the implications of the handicapped student's mode of learning for the teaching of sighted students. In recent years, college theory curricula have been subjected to a great deal of scrutiny and revision. One important pedagogical trend is the separation of the "basic musicianship" program from speculative theory. Central to the development of this "musicianship" curriculum is the identification of essential skills and of the procedures by which they may most efficiently be mastered. The view of the interaction of visual and auditory stimuli afforded by this study should provide some insight into this latter question, but more research in this area is needed; it will be possible to draw definite conclusions only after a larger group has been examined under controlled experimental conditions.

For the present, however, the effects of this study on blind college music students and their teachers remain the principal concern. It is hoped that the information presented here will enable instructors to teach their handicapped students more easily and effectively, and that it will help those students to attain their educational and professional goals.


1U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, Office of Education, Computer-Translation: Grade 2 Braille from Print. Final Report, by Ann Schack, et al., U.S. Educational Resources Information Center, Office of Education Research Reports ED 036 931 (Louisville, Ky.: American Printing House for the Blind, 1969), pp. 12-18; "New Score for the Blind," Music Educators Journal, 58 (Nov. 1971), 19.

2In New York, for instance, a 1967 amendment to the State Education Law provides that an otherwise qualified teacher may not be refused employment solely on the basis of his lack of sight.

3Musikpsychologie (1931; rpt. Hildesheim and New York: Georg Olms Verlag, 1969), p. 255.

4Edward W. Jenkins, comp., Primer of Braille Music: New Revised Edition, 1960 (Louisville, Ky.: American Printing House for the Blind, 1964).

5How to Read Braille Music Notation (Hadley School for the Blind, 700 Elm Street, Winnetka, IL 60093).

6In fact, it is not even necessary for the instructor to learn braille notation, although he should certainly acquaint himself with its basic principles. A good short exposition of the braille music code may be found in Doris G. Herlein's article, "Music Reading for the Sightless: Braille Notation," Music Educators Journal, 62 (Sept. 1975), 42-45; a number of works, including an inkprint edition of the Primer of Braille Music, are available to the sighted person who wants a more thorough grounding in braille music.

7Carl E. Seashore, "The Sense of Rhythm as a Musical Talent," Musical Quarterly, 4 (1918), 508.

8Gestalt Psychology (1947; rpt. New York: Liveright, 1970), pp. 143-159.

9Allen Irvine McHose and Ruth Northrup Tibbs, Sight-Singing Manual, 3rd ed. (New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts, Inc., 1957).

10The Union Catalog of Braille Music, compiled by the Library of Congress, lists braille scores and books about music held by that library and by cooperating institutions, with their locations. Requests for information and for available materials may be directed to: Music Section, Division for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, Library of Congress, 1292 Taylor Street, N.W., Washington, DC 20542. A list of additional services that the Library of Congress offers to the visually handicapped is included in Eyler R. Coates, "Music for the Blind and Physically Handicapped from the Library of Congress," American Music Teacher, 25 (Feb.-March 1976), 21-24.

11Recording for the Blind, Inc. (215 East 58th Street, New York, NY 10022) is a volunteer organization that records educational books free at the request of blind students and their teachers. Sigma Alpha Iota (a professional music fraternity for women) operates an extensive volunteer braille music transcription project; the address of the current Braille Project chairman may be obtained from the directory included in each issue of the fraternity's journal, Pan Pipes, or from Sigma Alpha Iota's National Executive Office (4119 Rollins Avenue, Des Moines, IA 50312).

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