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AFBAmerican Foundation®
for the Blind

Expanding possibilities for people with vision loss

music lessons

Hello, I'm wondering if anyone has info. on piano lessons for the blind. My son has a severe visual impairment his main source of reading and writing will be done in braille. So reading print music will be next to impossible unless maybe blown up and that may also be to difficult for him. He loves music he can repeat a rythym and can carry a tune. He is only 5 ,but really wants to learn to play. I not sure what to look for in a teacher. Is it better to go with a sighted or blind teacher. Or someone that can not only teach him by reading the music but also to play by ear. If any one has an opinion or experience with this please let me know. Thanks!

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Re:music lessons

oops, here is the link to the article "Musin and the Mind":

Re:music lessons

After reading this message board, I also wrote an article that may be of interest relating to learning music as a blind or visually impaired person.
Here is the link:
Music and the Mind

Re:music lessons

Those like Gwen seeking alternatives to reading magnified print music notation may want to learn more about The Lime Lighter music-reading device for low vision performers. See and follow link for "The Lime Lighter". You'll find a link to a 3-minute video demonstration

Re:music lessons

Can a person teach himself the Suzuki method?

Re:music lessons

My name is Cedric, I sing with the Braille Institute Barbershop Chorus. I enjoy it very much, singing is a
passion of mine,I have a good voice, but I struggle with
counts and bars,knowing where to come in on a song
at times. I also take voice lessons at the Braille Institute
but I need more 1on1 where can I get the additional help
that I need,I want to be real good and I can with proper
instruction, I am willing to do the work any sugestions.
Cedric at


voice lesson tips

I am currently a college student who is interested in taking vocal lessons. I have found it easy to learn music by ear. However, does anyone have some tips for educating a teacher about the best ways to teach technique such as how to take a proper breath and how to stand with correct posture? If there is anyone who is a blind voice teacher or has taken lessons please let me know.

Re:music lessons

I have taught piano to sighted students for almost 12 years now (I am sighted myself), and for the past year I have had this incredible urge to figure out a way to teach blind students. I looked into traditional music in braille but found it was too hard and complicated for the typical 10-year-old or the every day student. Since then, I have invented a new way to read music. It is written in a vertical instead of a horizontal setting. All 10 fingers systematically move down the page as braille apperas under (only) each finger as it is to be played. I even came up with an apparatus that helps keeps the hands and fingers in line so the fingers will flow down the page smoothly. (It even helps with correct hand position on the piano!) It is simple, easy to understand, and just makes sense. However, I cannot use this as, being a small-town teacher myself, I don't have the money for a patent for this item. I am not looking to make loads off of this. I just want to be able to use it with my students. Does anyone know of some sort of grant or program that could help with this? I would even be willing to sell the idea to a bigger ogranizatio that could mass produce it for the every day person. If anyone has any ideas, please let me know! Thanks! -

Re:music lessons

I would like to do an intervention with a telescope on glasses to read music to see if it would work. Does anyone have an idea how to do this for a trial? The student has a video magnification system, but things are tight in the band room and he would need to be close to the screen with his Euphonium so I am looking for ideas.



Re:music lessons

My son , Jared, lost his sight a little over three years ago at the age of 13. I can honestly say "music saved his life" and ours. My husband and I have since started a company called TalkingTabs which was inspired by Jared. Our mission at TalkingTabs is to provide those with visual learning difficulties the best opportunity to learn to play musical instruments with an all-audio approach to music instruction. Currently we have an all audio method for teaching the guitar and our play-it-now-tunes to learn your favortie songs. Other instruments are currently in development including the piano.

Flute Lessons

I would like to find beginner flute lessons in an accessible format. I'm musically inclined, but I do not read braille music well, and I'm a complete beginner at the flute.

Re:music lessons

Hi, I am a traditional Irish musician lliving and working in in Ireland with blind and visually impaired children for the last 20 yrs. I often wondered at my approach to teaching music and getting chlidren to just enjoy making music. As the music I play myself is learnt totally by ear, most of my teaching is done the same. I have found it to be very successful. Maybe slow at times but sure whats the rush. Learning music is a lifetime experience anyway, and I am still learning. Every child I have taught has been totally different with different needs, but at the end of the day the main thing is that they reach there musical potential whether that be playing an instrument (usually traditional e.g. fiddle, whistle, bodhran, flute etc.) or just having an appreciation of music of all types. Someone out there mentioned the suzuki method. It is very much a similar method that has been used for teaching traditional irish music for years, and works extremely well with the blind and partially sighted. I use the ABC scale for writing out tunes for those who can see a little and this helps them to remember. It works even if it is a little unothodox. The academics may not toally agree with it, but for me it has worked! Never give up, ther is music in every child and it may take up to 5 yrs for it to come out, but it will eventually

Re:music lessons

Hi. My name is Liz. I'm a visually impaired violinist, piano, and guitar player. I've been blessed with the gift of perfect pitch which has enabled me to learn everything from symphonies to fiddle tunes by ear. I don't have enough vision to read music but I understand and can teach sighted people how to read it. I also give violin lessons and may be starting piano. I took about a year of braille music lessons but found using my ear to be easier. I think a teacher who understands how the blind learn would be best. They also need to be patient and willing to experiment with new learning techniques.
good luch!

Re:music lessons

I just found "Simply Music" and this letter from Jennifer. I'm not sure what I can offer except a sincere, positive and exciting AOK to this way of teaching music to children. I am a retired music specialist and am strongly convinced with the importance of children beginning with movement, singing, listening and echoing, and creating musical ideas with instruments. I agree wholehearted with the idea of hearing, exploring at the keyboard and repeating musical patterns. (I have so much to say but I want to encourage Jennifer and others to keep exploring.) I personally wouldn't worry about whether you find a sighted or blind teacher at this time. You want a person with an expressive musical ability, a love for children and a love of music!

Re:music lessons

Hi Jennifer:

I am a piano teacher in California. I teach an incredible program called Simply Music. The program was developed shortly after the founder taught a blind child. It uses shapes and sentences and patterns to relate the music right into the student's hands.

We have several students with disabilities including blind students. Beginning students, with no attention on having to read music, are free to relate directly to the piano, and within months easily and naturally begin to establish a 'hands-on' and personal 'feeling' for the instrument as they build a play-list that includes popular, classical, blues and jazz styles, as well as develop the ability to play chords and modern accompaniments.

I would encourage you to take a look at the website for more information If you are interested you can send an inquiry to the founder to locate a teacher in your area. Or are welcome to contact me.

Good luck with it all!


Re:music lessons

Just came across your post and was wondering how the piano lessons are going for your son. I, too, have a 6-yr old VI child who will also be reading and writing in braille. I am also a piano teacher and have begun teaching her some tunes on the piano. I show her (she gets very close to the keys) where the keys are and then I notice as she is playing she is feeling for the correct notes and when she hits a wrong one, she knows it instantly. I, too, have been up in the air about teaching her myself. She views me already as #1, a mom who loves her dearly, but #2, the one who makes her do all the hard stuff (like learning braille). I am wondering if a third pary would not give her more pleasure in learning the piano. Just wondering how your son is doing, and if he is learning by ear or the Braille music method. Look forward to hearing from you!

Re:music lessons

Hi Jennifer,

I live in New York where anyone can get free music lessons at the Lighthouse International (Formerly called The Lighthouse New York Association for the Blind). They have had a music school for people who are blind and/or visually impaired for approximately 90 years. This is where I have been taking my music classes for 28 years. They don't like to advertise this fact because they are gradually trying to eliminate this wonderful and one-of-a-kind music school. If you live near enough, I would go there. If not, I would look into the Suzuki method, and steer away from therapy-type interventions. I have learned over the years that it is better to be treated as a student than treated as a patient. Anyway, good luck.

Re:music lessons

stumbled across your question when surfing the net and want to ad some things. i see that someone has suggested the suzuki method. i have no problems with my sight but understand how the suzuki method would be the way to go. i started learning when i was three because i had an older sister who was learning and i kept bugging my mother till she let me. i didnt learn how to read music till i was about twelve years old. as suzuki is a method established when you learn by ear. it is a really amzing method i cant really thank it enough. i am now writing musicals . i think suzuki helped me with my composing as i really listen to what sounds nice. i take it you live in america. i live in new zealand so i would offer to help teach. anway jsut some thoughts.

Re:music lessons


My blind 10 year old daughter has taken piano for three years now from a sighted piano teacher. She has learned to play by ear and understands chords well. We are in the process of learning braille music code because she will join 6th grade band next year. We have decided to take some time off from formal music lessons for a few months and have ordered an audio taped lesson format for visually impaired persons. I you can search for VI Music for the visually impaired and will hit the web site (I can't remember the name right now!). Hope this helps!!! Jamie


Hello, Jennifer.

My name is Alexis, and I studied piano for 12 years in my hometown (I'm in college now). I learned using a method called Suzuki. This method was developed in Japan and teaches the child to play by ear. Your child is at a perfect age to begin learning Suzuki because teachers recommend starting children at 3 or in this age range. (I was 6 when I started).

I do not know if there is a directory of Suzuki teachers on the Internet, but good luck in finding one. If I can be of further help, please don't hesitate to reply here or e-mail me at

Good luck.


Dancing Dots Re:music lessons


Dancing Dots is a company that has been working on products to produce braille music from "print music" and vice versa, and lots of related tools. AS blind musicians are involved with this company, I think you would find people there who would be happy to share their own experiences with you and send you in the right direction. they can be found on the web at:


Just want to thank everyone who has responded to me with advice or just encouragement. I haven't found anyone yet who is willing to teach him ,but I won't give up that easy. Thanks again, Jennifer (if you come up with any other ideas please let me know.)

Music Lessons

Hi, I am a legally blind sophmore in college. I have played the saxophoe for over eight years now. I use glasses mounted with a telescope to read music. I don't know if this method would work for your son, but I just wanted to pass the idea along. I also teach lessons. I think it is wonderful that you are considering music lessons for your child. I have valued so much from my love for music. The best of luck to you.

music therapist

Hi Jenni. Thanks for your response. I was wondering if you could tell me how I would go about finding a music therapist. I've never heard of music therapy before. He will be going into K this coming school year. I know they do have a music class for the kindergarteners that they seem to be really involved in. I would like to get any info. possible. He loves music so much I know this would be an activity he could really get involved in. Thanks again, Jennifer

Music Lessons

Hi, Jennifer! I am a music therapist by education so I was interested in reading about your five-year old. Is he enrolled in kindergarten now? If so, is he receiving special education services in school? If so, you may want to request a music therapy evaluation at his next core eval. Better yet, if you can arrange it, find a music therapist who will go to that eval with you and advocate for music therapy services for your son. Between a clinician and special education teachers trained in Braille, the appropriate resources should be easily obtainable so that your son can enjoy making music and exploring what it has to offer side-by-side with his sighted classmates. Good luck to you!

Re: Music Lessons

Hello. I know that there is a special Braille system used to read and write music with. The Hadley School for the Blind offers courses in this type of Braille free of charge for blind persons. But because of your son's age, this may difficult for him to learn without personal instruction.

Also, as someone who has been very involved with music, I believe that your son could learn a lot from a sighted instructor. The limitation on how well your son could learn music lies not in his poor vision, but in the quality of instruction. Of course, most instructors have not had much experience working with blind students.

I suppose I haven't been much help. I'm sorry about that. It is true that reading music is an invaluable skill for any musician. But performing and appreciating music requires spirit and hearing, not vision. And if Beethoven could write his ninth symphony deaf, well, he had more of a challenge than most blind people would have. So rest assured that your son's blindness is an annoyance when it comes to music - not an obstacle.

Good luck!


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