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Teaching a blind pupil - any tips/advice?


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#1 picklepiper

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Posted 14 January 2019 - 12:51

I have a new piano pupil starting this week who is blind (and also quite young - 6 years old).  Although I have taught children of this age in the past, I have never taught someone who is blind, so I think it's going to be something of an adventure! I have met the child - he is very bright and articulate, which is promising, and has a good ear. He has an electronic keyboard on which he is able to play some simple tunes by ear. I understand from his mum that he cannot see anything out of one eye, and only a very slight amount out of the other.

I was wondering if anyone has experience of teaching a blind pupil, and might be prepared to pass on any tips or advice on activities which work well, and perhaps on things to avoid too!

Many thanks!


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#2 tulip21

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Posted 14 January 2019 - 15:26

I am also a member of the blind community and here is what I think:

Skip note-reading, at least for now. It sounds like he doesn't have enough vision to make it possible. Ideally, he should learn to read braille music, but finding sheet music in braille is very, very difficult unless you can find someone to transcribe it. He will also have to be taught the code as well. I think learning by ear is just fine, at least for a while. Teaching a blind student is not that different from a sighted student, but there are some things to watch out for.

1. Many sighted people have the advantage of looking at the keyboard from time to time, but for a blind person, this is not possible. Therefore, it may take more practice for him to be able to locate the right notes for a given piece.
2. Avoid pointing to anything visual. Teachers will have to correct blind students physically with their hands more often than sighted students, since they can't watch the teacher like a sighted student can.

This is all I can think of for now.
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#3 mel2

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Posted 14 January 2019 - 17:54

You might find it helpful to consult the RNIB website; they have a Music Advisory Service with advice for professionals like yourself as well as parents, on music education.

I'm glad you asked this as I shall download the pdf for myself!

 

Hope your new pupil finds joy in their lessons.


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#4 Dorcas

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Posted 14 January 2019 - 19:38

There is a course for students involving braille.  The only problem, the teacher needs to go on a course first!!  Definitely, teach playing by ear, which, after all, is a good idea for sighted students anyway.  If you can, investigate the braille course, and consider the training course yourself.  Personally, I think it is wonderful that you are heping this student.  Go for it!!!


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#5 picklepiper

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Posted 16 January 2019 - 09:43

Many thanks for the replies and suggestions - all very helpful. The young man has his first lesson with me this evening, so I will be sure to report back about how it goes!


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