It’s been a while, but I’m still rolling along music wise. Still don’t have many students, but still hoping that will change. I’d like a few at least until I start looking for work at the local music schools. But even though I have not been teaching, I’ve done plenty and thought I’d tell you all about it.
First of all, my diploma prep is going well. I have to sit my grade 6 ABRSM theory, which means ordering materials from the UK. I had to go through the RNIB, and get the order numbers for all the workbooks etc I will need to be prepared. Then I had to contact the export department, who then had me call them with my payment details. So at 10 pm on a Friday night, I placed that call and now have to wait 8 weeks or so for materials.
Step two was talking to a few blind teachers out there to find out the process of getting the exam transcribed and then my answered also. The exam will be braille for me and I have a scribe on the day. It has been many years since I have used one. I well remember the slow, frustrating at times process of trying to convey my written work to a scribe. I used a short of shorthand to convey the music.
An example would be c crotch, d min, 2 c crotch. I would use accidentals before the note such as sharp f crotch, same with octave markings. All my scribe I told about octave markings as used in braille music to make things a little easier. Octaves are numbered 1 to 7, 1 being the very bottom of the piano, 7 near the top of the keyboard. But there are rules we braille music people have to always keep in mind. I won’t tell you all of them here, as it is quite hard to put in writing. But if a note is a third or less apart, no octave mark is needed, but if a greater interval is used, we may or may not have to mark the octave of that note. Some people say we should use one at the start of every bar, but I don’t think they do that any more.
Anyway, getting back to my diploma prep. I also downloaded the music I need to learn, and am now in the process of filling in my application for my theory. Which is proving a frustrating process as it’s a PDF form. I also have several books on order, which comes to several hundred pages which I will need to scan. That will take a few hours to do once I get them, but it makes the material accessible.
Believe it or not, I actually did a little teaching stuff, well more like helping when in high school. I boarded with other blind people during the week during the last few years of high school. While there, I met someone who was to have a huge impact on my life. Sister Jean. I’m not even sure if she is still alive now, but she was a real help to me and someone I looked up too.
It was a strange beginning. Sister Jean overheard me in my bedroom one day, singing an aria of all things; She asked me to sing it for her, which I did. She then asked me about singing it at her concert several months later. I said no, as I was too scared to do it. But with a lot of encouragement, I decided to give it a go. She also heard me play the piano, and said to perform a movement from a Haydn sonata as well.
Then I began to help other people who did piano practice at the time. We had not only blind people, had autism as well. I used to help this person practice, by giving him step by step instructions, playing the pieces and showing him how to play it. Same with his technique; I would stop him at the point of mistakes and slowly help him learn the exercises.
I also helped another pianist but they required a different tact. With them, I noticed they did better after talking me through the process of the piece. This person also sang, and I used to record the warmups that I read from braille music. We were a group of about 8 singers in the end, and we sang in 3 part harmony. How I discovered that is for another post, but we took our singing to a few festivals and had a ball!
Sister Jean also helped me also during a time of musical distress. After discovering in year 12 the huge chunks of the score I wasn’t hearing, a few months later I went to Sister Jean. I was really distressed at the time, grieving for something I would never have, thinking my musical life was over for good. I went to one of the only people I thought I could. She sat me down and told me I was going to make it. Helped me learn to read open score, and lots of other things.
I have such strong memories of music in that place and it has still stayed with me years later.
I have decided to start working towards my dip-abrsm teaching diploma. It will be an interesting, rewarding and challenging experience, but I’m really excited to be doing this. I have the time to do it now, and feel it will be fantastic as I work toward improving my teaching and prepare myself to work in a music school.
So far, I have downloaded the braille files of the pieces I will be working on. I’ve also got a mentor helping me through it. I am currently sourcing books from the booklist, which is a little challenging. Many of them are not on kindle or iBooks, so I will have to scan them… That will take time, but I’ll do it because I want the books.
The quick study portion of the exam will be a real challenge. Frankly, it scares me doing it, as I’m not used to trying to memorise music with examiners in the room etc. I’m trying to source a copy of previous quick study materials so I can get an idea how difficult it will be. I have a choice of using braille music, or doing it by ear. At the moment, I’m leaning towards the music, but I’m going to get a hold of both so I can see what it could look like. I’ve contacted the RNIB (the blind society in the uk) about getting this stuff. I have time on my side, but want to get things rolling now.
I’m thankfully this stuff are out there; It wasn’t last time I studied music, and I feel a sense of satisfaction knowing that I can do something about getting every thing I need.
I’ll be blogging through out this whole process, so stay tuned for more updates as I work my way through the diploma.