How I, as a blind person sing in a Choir

I’ve been singing in choirs for many years. First in primary school, then singing acapella in high school, then in music school and now with another chorus.

As a blind singer, there are some things I need to do differently, since I cant see the conductor. You may think this could be a difficult thing, but for me it isn’t.

Braille Music is Key

First of with out braille music, singing in a choir would be a lot harder. I can tell a lot from just reading the score. Word placement, dymanics and phrasing are just some of the things I pick up from using a braille music score.

I cant always tell from listening where the words fit, esspecially when it is spread over many sylables. Tempo changes are also very important as I rely on the music for these, instead of watching the conductor.

How I mark my Scores

It is a given that a choir member would always bring a pencil to rehearsal, to mark the score if necessary. Quite often subtle changes are made in the score and we are expected to mark them.

as a blind person, we don’t have that. But we do have ways of marking a score too.

  • We can record the rehearsal, and mark the score after we get home by putting sticky notes on the page of music where the marking occurs;
  • We use a braille notetaker, typing the notation directly in to the electronic braille file. [this is the method I use]
  • The music is embossed double spaced, leaving room to add the markings later at home after rehearsals.

How do blind people Follow the Conductor?

This is hard to explain. I use a variety of methods to keep track of what is going on including:

  • listening to the breathing of the singers around me, taking my cue to start or cutoff at the right time;
  • Being so familar with the music that I literally can sing it in my sleep;
  • Counting the bars rests as required when first rehearsing a piece, so I can know when to come in;

– A sort of “knowing” when something is haspening. I can almost sense when a cressendo happens, with out even knowing how. I just and just happens.

I’m sure I will have more to add as I continue on my journey. The choir I have just joined is a lot larger than I’m used too and of a professional nature, so it will be a interesting experience.

Musical changes

I know it’s been a while since I have written in this blog, now is the time to start blogging again as I enter a very different stage of my life.

What is happening?

When I left off writing this blog, I was writing and freelancing. It has been a great time. I wrote blog posts, web copy and content for various companies and loved doing so. But work has dried up and my circumstances have changed. Hubby is no longer working so I am also looking for work.

What am I Doing with my Music?

As far as music goes, my focus has changed. I realized recently that teaching kids was not an option for me. Most children just don’t have the passion and many students and parents wouldn’t practice or left after a short period of time.

I am open to teaching at a music school as long as it is locally. But I doubt this will be the case, because my musical life took a new direction recently. I can no longer teach after school.

A dream Come True

One of my dreams has always been to join a professional choir and to sing the great choral works such as Haydns Creation and Handels Messiah. And even to sing a solo from time to time.

Recently, I auditioned for the Melbourne Symphony Chorus. It was quite a hard audition in some ways. I had to prepare a classical aria, which I have not sung anything like that for years. I prepared “but who may abide” from Messiah. I also had to do some vocal exercises and some sight singing. Because of my blindness, they played that on the piano and I had to sing what I heard.

To my shock, I made the audition and start rehearsals soon! I am so excited and beyond energized by this. I was in a choir in another place for about 3 months, but now will have to leave that.

What I’m considering

This has lead me to soul search again about my options. I’m debating if I go back to study, this time voice. I’d love to direct my own choir or sing in a paid choir one day. I’ve always wanted to do this, but didn’t have confidence to take it on.

So, stay tuned as I share more of my journey.