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Information and advice for passionate musicians

How does 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 can’t see the conductor. You may think this could be a difficult thing, but for me, it isn’t.

Braille Music is Key

Without braille music, singing in a choir would be a lot harder. I can tell a lot from just reading the score. Word placement, dynamics and phrasing are just some of the many things I pick up from using a braille music score.

I can’t always tell from listening where the words fit, especially when it is spread over many syllables. 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 into the electronic braille file. For me, I memorize the markings once I have them recorded from rehearsal. That way es again, I just re-learn them.
  • 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 familiar 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 happening. I can almost sense when a crescendo happens, without even knowing how. I just seem to know as 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 an interesting experience.

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