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Fred’s Head, offered by the American Printing House for the Blind, contains tips, techniques, tutorials, in-depth articles, and resources for and by blind or visually impaired people. Our blog is named after the legendary Fred Gissoni, renowned for answering a seemingly infinite variety of questions on every aspect of blindness.

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Monday, July 24, 2017

Fully Audio Music Lessons for People Who Are Blind


Introduction


We received an email recently regarding a site dedicated to teaching basic music lessons to people who are blind. some audio music lessons existed in the National Library Service (NLS) catalog, but not many people spoke about them, perhaps causing some people to think that they no longer were available.

Music for the Blind


Although this site is not new, two things make it stand out. First, the site offers basic lessons for more than a dozen instruments. For a number of years, the available lessons mostly were for guitar and piano alone. Some of these lessons, though not all of them, became available on NLS. Second, all of the lessons are done totally by ear; there is no print, braille, video, or music notation.

The teacher describes techniques totally by ear. You hear what the instructor is doing and, after some instruction, are asked to do what he does. The lessons come on CDs, tapes, in some instances, and downloadable audio files. There also is a place on the homepage to sign up for email updates.

Important Accessibility Notes


Before we discuss the lessons in some more detail, there are a few accessibility issues you need to understand. If you do not run into these issues, you can navigate the site with ease; if you do encounter them, however, the below explanation should help you find what you’re looking for on the site.

There is an accessibility sidebar which JAWS shows immediately. This sidebar seems to handle font size and be useful for persons with low vision. At first review with JAWS and Internet Explorer, below this sidebar, you may see only the email signup edit fields and some basic information about the site. You must look for a menu and expand that menu with the space bar. Below that first menu is a second one you must expand in the same way. (You do not have to take these steps with Firefox and JAWS).

Here’s how you expand the menus. As you scroll, you hear, “Top menu navigation.” Press the down arrow key one time; open the menu that gains focus with the space bar. You may have to refresh your screen (hit the JAWS key plus escape to do this with JAWS) before you notice the new links that opening up the menu should display.

After you see a few links, you hear, “Child menu”, and you will be told if that menu is expanded or collapsed. Move to that menu with one press of the down arrow key and expand it with the spacebar to see all remaining links. Again, remember that you likely will have to take these steps using Internet Explorer and probably will not have to do so with Firefox.

Tell Me What I Will Find!


Examples of the courses covered on this site include piano courses, guitar courses,  and drum lessons. However, these are only three of the 13 current course types available. Note that some of the piano and guitar courses are available for download from the BARD site from NLS. Not all of these courses may be available from NLS, however, so please check with the Music for the Blind site and sign up for their emails to see a full list of current courses and to hear about new ones as they are added.

How Do the Courses Work?


When you open up the page that describes one of the course types, you will find one or more brief audio samples. Listen using the accessible audio player, and you will get a feel for how the lessons work. Remember, all lessons are audio only—no video, print, braille, or musical notation!

To buy any course, open the menus, and select the course you want to purchase by clicking its link. You will find the links immediately below the audio samples. Click the one you want and select checkout. Links for each course are clearly labeled and include the price and the media you will receive. Note: You must create an account to complete your purchase. If you have problems accessing the site or would rather speak to someone directly, you can call 888-778-1828. We wish you success with learning to play a new instrument or with improving your existing skills.

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