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Visually impaired

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by lawcat, Sep 6, 2008.

  1. lawcat


    Sep 6, 2008
    My 9 year daughter who will be starting double bass is visually impaired and uses large-print texts and used large print sheet music for recorder.

    In starting to play bass is anyone, or taught anyone, visually impaired or have an opinion on how/where best to situate music?

  2. salcott

    salcott Supporting Member

    Aug 22, 2007
    NYC, Inwood.
    I'd get the music enlarged at a copy shop and make sure she has her own stand so she can put the music where she can see it.
  3. Bass Barrister

    Bass Barrister

    Nov 4, 2004

    I have a substantial visual impairment which limits my ability to read any music, regardless of the amount of enlargement.

    I commend your daughter's willingness to undertake the challenge of bass playing. Music study and ensemble playing will pose challenges that will require commitment, ingenuity, and a supportive learning envoronment.

    Has your daughter been evaluated by a low vision services provider through her school or private phsician? Visual impairment varies greatly and solutions for one person are not often useful for another. An idividual assessment should determine her specific limitations, needs, and offer a range a potential solutions.

    Unfortunately, in the USA, it is often hard to find good resource materials and personnel for visually impaired musicians and music students. Contrast this to the UK, for example, which has a nationwide program of assistance to blind/visually imppaired music students. Under various federal laws, including the ADA and Rehabilitation Act of 1973, school districts (and private schools receiving federal funds) are required to proviide access to all programs for students with disabilities. Some excell at meeting these requirements while others do not.

    All this being said, here are a few of my suggestions:

    1. Per Salcott's advice above, get the music enlarged. This is trickier than it seems because enlarging often results in pages that are too large for practical use and the degree of enlargement varies with individual need. It is proper to ask your daughter's school to provide this service.
    2. Recordings. Ask someone to record the parts/lessons excerpts. She can then listen while reading the music at close distance.
    3. Memorize. THIS IS GOOD ADVICE FOR ANY MUSICIAN, VISUALLY IMPAIRED OR NOT. If you're not glued to the music, you can focus on bowing, intonation, and that crazy person up front waving the stick. Might as well start early.
    4. Be patient. It will probably take her longer to learn music. No audience cares how long it took you to learn. They want you to sound good.

    Please PM me if would like to discuss this further. I wish your daughter all the best.
  4. Just a thought; what about a tablet computer?
  5. Adam Booker

    Adam Booker Supporting Member

    May 3, 2007
    Boone, NC
    Endorsing Artist: D'Addario Strings, Remic Microphones
    Hi Lawcat. As of now I have a friend who has developed a pedagogy for teaching music theory to the visually impaired. She is currently in England for a conference, but when she gets back I can put you in contact with her. It's a great thing and music should not be limited to the sighted.
  6. I know a vibes player who has lost a great deal of his sight due to a tumor. That was all taken care of, but now he can't see much unless its right at his face. His solution is to get some really strong perscription reading glasses and for the first time he reads a chart he plays with his head inches from the music, but he's developed the ability to very quickly memorize a piece of music. I'd really reccomend this. He's a great player, and in part I think it's because he's not really distracted by staring into the music all the time you know?

    Hope that helped, good luck to your daughter.
  7. lawcat


    Sep 6, 2008
    Thank you ever so much for the info. Everyone is telling me I should have steered her towards another instrument, but I think the bass may be a good match. Thanks again.
  8. EggyToast


    Jan 21, 2006
    The best instrument is the instrument she wants to play. ;D

    I'll second the "find recordings" rather than buying a ton of books. Getting some starter books enlarged would be a good start. Similarly, is she able to see better if things are more light/dark contrasted? For example, if you were to take some music, reverse it (so it's white on black), and then print that on a transparency so you have a black background with transparent notes. And then put that on either a light screen (similar to the light-boxes that doctors use to view X-rays) or, perhaps even better, project that on to a wall using an overhead projector?

    Using an overhead projector to enlarge the music might be a good idea anyway. But given her needs, her teacher and you should probably push towards memorization when it comes to recitals or auditions, if she gets to that point.

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