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AFBAmerican Foundation®
for the Blind

Expanding possibilities for people with vision loss

Teaching Trombone to a legally blind 5th grade studen

This is my first exposure to teaching a legally blind student. She has to look on top of the music to play it. We are developing her ear to hearing the music. I enlarge the lesson music for her every week. She does well with the music. I am encouraging her to memorize the exercises after looking at them. Does anyone have an idea how to teach this differently? I do ot kow if she will be able to be in a band setting, but do feel that she will be in a performing setting by herself or with anoher person. Any suggestions. I did suggest a cd player for someone to play before each exercise. Help.
This student is a great person and willing to compensate with anything i suggest.

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Re:Teaching Trombone to a legally blind 5th grade studen

hi i'm Lindsay and i play the trombone and i have the same problems your student has and i've done swell in a band setting the trick is to get at least a measure ahead and look up every so often another trick is to memorize at least part of the music also you could play along with them sometimes and they could try to match the notes. those are some tricks that helped me now i'm in marching band and memorization has really helped

Re:Teaching Trombone to a legally blind 5th grade studen

I play the violin in class. I know that you are already inlarging the music for her, but I do have a couple suggestions. You could play the music for her, and then, after you play the first measure, you can tell her what the notes are. Then she could try to play them back. She could have them written in braille. That way, she could practice at home. Like people said a cctv can work, too.

Re: Teaching Trombone to a legally blind 5th grade studen

I'm sorry I'm so late in responding. She'll be in sixth grade by the time you read this...

I played violin in elementary school until I switched to the clarinet. The main reason I switched was because no one could figure out a way for me to read the music and the clarinet let me get closer to the music stand.

Later, we all got smarter and found many solutions to the problem. First, there are many optical aids available. The one I used was a pair of glasses with telescope lenses and a reading cap on one of them. That worked the best for me for reading sheet music. The amount of vision she has will make a big difference, of course. IF you can enlarge it and she can read it at a couple of inches, I'm guessing the optical aids will work for her. A low vision specialist can evaluate her and prescribe them.

The next option is something someone else already suggested, but not by name. It's a CCTV or a video magnifier (same thing, different names). They can be pretty expensive, but the school should get it for her. She should have one for all her school work, not just music. They are wonderful. You place the reading material on a movable table under a camera and the image is magnified onto a TV-type screen. One problem is that she'll need to use one hand to move the music around under the camera (or move the camera around on top of the music) and she needs two hands to play.

There are models that operate with a foot pedal. I haven't tried them in decades, but they're worth looking into.

You can read more about video magnifiers on the AFB site at

Re:Teaching Trombone to a legally blind 5th grade studen

I play the flute in my school band and my director records the music on a cd for me. I am able to recognize the notes by ear and memorize a lot of the pieces.

Re:Teaching Trombone to a legally blind 5th grade studen

Thanks for the responses. I have the secretary enlarge the music, but the student still needs to get on top of the music to read it, She knows piano so the reading of the notes are no problem. That is why I have her sing the music, say the music and play it. If we do it this way, then it works out. My concern is being abole to play wth a group.. The way we do it now, it won't work. I must check on seeing about equipment for her, or another strategy. lenore

Re:Teaching Trombone to a legally blind 5th grade studen

I played trombone for three years until switching to tuba and I'm legally blind. The thing that made learning trombone most difficult was judging the distance between the slide positions. It often helps to litlerally slide the trombone through the positions for the music student until they understand where all the positions are. The music is ok, but if you can enlarge it for her/him, all the better. Is he/she having difficulty understanding the notes? They should never learn to memorize things...always have them use the music or if they cannot read print music, try Braille Music with one hand and a modified (double trigger) trombone (or bass trombone) with shoulder grip. They sell these at many music stores.
hope this helps

Drum Major Andrea of Monte Vista Christian High

Re:Teaching Trombone to a legally blind 5th grade studen

I was the same before the eyes went. Yes it would enlarge enough. If I may suggest you calling different agencies for the blind they will have more info for you.

Re:Teaching Trombone to a legally blind 5th grade studen

Thanks for the suggestion about the t.v. She is so blind that she is on top of the music just to read it(almost two inches away). The t.v. would enlarge it enough? I wonder.

Right now I am giving her the notes or she is reading them, them playing them by memory. We will go forth. leore

Re:Teaching Trombone to a legally blind 5th grade studen

Hi and bravo for you teaching her, First off I cant see why she couldnt play in a band. All it takes is a few modificatuins and practice. I am not sure what wquipment she has or can obtain. Some of the wquipment out there that will help is a CRT television its a magnifier where you can place paper on its shelf and it enlarges it on a scteen in front of her at head level. There are smaler hand held ones that enlarge the print so it can be seen. Try your local chapters for the blind and also the library

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