Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Is Music Blind?

Did you ever wonder how a blind musician would see the printed music to play an instrument? Most blind musicians use a braille music code. This is different than the print music code. The signs for the keys and music notation is written in a different way. It uses a combination of dots.  You can see in the caption written in braille on the coffee cup.  It uses a combination of dots for literary braille.

Braille music would look similar to literary braille to a sighted person. However, braille music has its own special code. 


We are familiar with a couple of musicians that are blind:  Stevie Wonder and Ray Charles.
Stevie Wonder was born 6 weeks early in 1950, with retinopathy.

Ray Charles lost his vision at the age of 4 or 5. He had to learn braille music code, by a teacher who wanted him to play the music with the right hand, and try to read the braille music with the left hand. And then to reverse the method, so that he was reading with his right hand, and playing with his left. 

I would never be able to do that, and Ray Charles struggled with that technique because the music code was so cumbersome. He almost gave up. Ray Charles was more impacted by jazz and country, than by classical music. The teacher told him that he should learn to play by ear, because it would be easy. 

My vision loss was not due to retinopathy, but due to my optic nerves not working since birth. When I was a small child, I sat at the piano and played the ABC`s. My mom noticed that I would play the ABC's on any instrument I was given, like the lap harp, harmonica or tin whistle, even though I hadn't been taught! She enrolled me into piano lessons where I was taught the special Suzuki Method, which is a technique combining ear and memorization. I learned to play music "by the ear method" and I wanted to play oldies.  I enjoy playing piano and hearing a song on the radio and trying to play it out on the piano, just by listening to it.
After piano lessons, the elementary school  enrolled me in flutophone music class. It is an instrument made like a flute, but made with a different mouthpiece. It is a starter instrument. I played it during two school grades, then switched to trumpet (or coronet.) I was enrolled in band, but I didn't use the braille music code as much, because I was playing by ear. It was efficient because I have perfect pitch and could practice very well. Since I couldn't see the band director, I had a paraprofessional who would vocalize to me the visual cues given by the band director to the band. I could, therefore, play in the group. I enjoyed some of the songs and being part of the band, but I was not in band for long. We moved overseas, and my new school didn't have a school band, only music classes.

I've shared my music experience as a blind person, as well as two other blind musicians.
I want to ask you to think about this . . .

Isn't music also blind?!
You can't see music; you can only hear it.

You can close your eyes and listen to music.

When you hear music; you can feel music.

Not touch it, but to feel it; by just how your reaction is...

Music can make someone feel good, it can make a person feel bad, it can make a person feel happy, it can make a person feel sad.

When you listen to music keep this in mind:  the key that music is played, the tempo and the singer's voice.

Here are some of my sneak peaks into Beatles compositions:

"Eleanor Rigby" in the key of G minor, with a slow tempo; might make you feel slow or indecisive.

"The Long and Winding Road" in the key of E flat; might make you feel a little down and blue.

And, though I like "The Octopus's Garden"
played in the key of E major; it makes me feel a little down because I anticipate on the high E note, played with a different instrument than the piano (it might be synthesized).

While "All You Need is Love" played in the key of G major, gives me an upbeat feeling.

"Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da" played in the key of B flat; gives the feeling like everything is chipper, alert and makes me feel like dancing.

As well as, "The Ballad of John and Yoko" played in the key of E major, has a good dancing tempo.

Then there is "All Together Now" done in G major with a fast tempo; it is stimulating to wake me up and get me going.

"Lady Madonna" played in the key of A major, gives a bouncy, skippy, spirited feeling.

Of course, "With a Little Help from My Friends" played in the key of E major, makes me feel consistent and steady.

I leave you with The Beatles' "Golden Slumbers" played in the key of C major, with a varied tempo.

 Golden Slumbers - The Beatles:


I challenge you to close your eyes and listen to the music, keep in mind the speed, the voice of the singer, and the notes and notice how the music makes you feel.

Oh, I can't forget to mention - my favorite recipe from our cooking class last month was from Lanea's Recipe Records cookbook:  "I Saw the Light Cheese Puffs," page 4.  Mix some up while enjoying your blind music listening lesson!

Well that was a good session! Thank you for joining us and sharing your questions and comments. Be sure to send us an email at:   lanea@reciperecordscookbook.com

This is Mademoiselle Molly saying good bye for now, until next time. Farewell and enjoy reading the blog!


Lanea and artist Jon Fuchs (Little Dog in the Sun) - will be visiting with Mike Blake on the "Mid-day With Mike Show" WFIE 14 News this Friday, March 20 at 11:15 a.m.

BARNES & NOBLE - EVANSVILLE, IN-- Saturday, March 28 -- 2:00 p.m.-4:00 p.m. - Children's Presentation & Book Signing  -  The star of "Little Dog in the Sun," Ava, will be joining Jon & Lanea at Barnes & Noble for book reading, artistic expression and book signing.

CENTRAL LIBRARY - EVANSVILLE, IN --  Sunday, April 12 --  1:30 p.m.  -  Lanea & Jon will be part of Evansville's Public Library Local Author Panel Event. - 200 SE Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd. (percentage of book sale proceeds goes to the Library Foundation)

LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER SHOW -- Saturday, May 9 - 7:00 p.m. - AIS Diamond Auditorium  - Evansville, IN  
Lanea is honored to be one of the featured authors in Evansville to share their story of motherhood. Grab a friend and share this evening of great entertainment!

Peace, Love & Cheer,

Mademoiselle Molly 
and Lanea Stagg
blog:  www.rockblocks3.blogspot.com
radio:  www.blogtalkradio.com/recipe records
facebook: send friend request - RecipeRecords Cookbook
twitter:  @reciperecords
email:   lanea@reciperecordscookbook.com