Information & Transformation

Information and Transformation

This week I was inspired by a connection I made with a blind young man from California who wrote to me and we subsequently spoke on the phone. SJ wanted to learn the bass guitar and was looking for some resources to get the job done. I made the usual suggestions, which are valid and helpful, to check with the State’s Division of Human Services or a branch committed to help the blind and a few local advocacy groups. I also advised SJ to check out the technology assistance of a great resource for software and hardware for visually impaired and blind musicians. Good information? Yes, of course. But something’s missing.

It seems the something that’s missing is also the cause for me slowing down my blogging – how much information can I find and forward to the readers? Quite a bit, but SJ got me to begin to think that it’s not so much about information as it is transformation. That last thought came out of my discussion with SJ and was expressed in a correspondence with the beautiful Gena from Virginia. So the next question appears to be, “what the hell am I talking about?”

You know what you need to do in order to become a musician: practice, practice, practice and if you’re a blind musician what you need to do is repeat “practice, practice, practice” twenty times. If you aspire to be a classical musician, or a play jazz, you know you need to understand music theory and use various types of assistive technology to facilitate you learning of theory and musical scores. That’s all about information an dit’s important stuff.

Transformation is about making changes, refusing to rediscover your history and create a future. It’s about strengthening emotional muscle, discovering paths that you didn’t know existed and at times beyond discovering paths, creating them. Hannibal once stated “We will either find a way or make one.” He made one.

So back to SJ, as we spoke he assured me if there was a way to get the job done, he’d do it. Was there a tutorial available to take a blind person through the steps to learn how to play bass guitar. I told him, I didn’t know of any. He said an online resource that was mostly descriptive and auditory would be great. It would be a big asset to those blind and visually impaired folks who aspire to play music.

So John and I got to talking about this as being a good idea and we decided to launch a project to put bass and guitar lessons geared toward blind and visually impaired adults, online. No path existed so we’re making one. We plan to have the first batch online by the end of March and continually add to that. We’ll be looking for funding and that won’t be easy, but not impossible either.

Thanks for the input SJ – information fueled transformation. Good slogan actually.

What’s your opinion? I’d like to hear from you. You can email or reply on this blog. Thanks for reading. Prof. Dave

2 thoughts on “Information & Transformation

  1. Hi,
    I am currently a vision specialist for a blind 8th grader who is gifted musically. He plays any instrument you put in his hand, according to the school’s band director, he also has perfect pitch. He, however, has not learned to read music. It is all by ear. He has astounding improvisational skills. We have order Feel Good through Dancing Dots. So we will start that upon receipt. However, finally, my question:
    Is a PC, Jaws or a Mac Book Pro with voice over the best option for him when it comes to interating materials musically? We are at a crossroad on which to teach? He currently uses a BrailleNote.

    THANKS for any advice..

    • Hello Linda, and thanks for your inspiring post. Working with a talented kid like this is a treat. I’ll start directly with your question and then add some of my thoughts for you to consider. From the user’s point, both a PC with Jaws or Mac Book Pro will serve a very similar purpose and do it in very similar ways. Most blind musicians that I know use PC with Jaws, not because it’s better, but because thye have a PC. Mac’s reputation for being superbly visual is widely accepted but it’s also extremely adaptable. My personal preference is the Mac because I’m a Mac user and find it to be very agreeable with me.

      It might be important to keep in mind that whatever is done thorugh assistaive technology for this student is only there to support the innate ability, intuitive musical sense evidenced by ability to improv, and musical sensibility. I believe, with all the assistance (and Dancing Dots is a GREAT help) I think he’ll do most of his learning of music by ear and reproducing what he hears. I say this because sometiems a great deal is spent on assistive technology and you’ll hear someone comment “he rarely uses it.” That’s not uncommon and the comment doesn’t mean it wasn’t helping – it does help. It supports and promotes the talent within.

      Thanks again for your note. Please write to me if you have any other comments or questions. My email is – if you can please send me an update form time to time? Thanks & God Bless. Prof. Dave