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Publication Detail
Perceptions of schooling, pedagogy and notation in the lives of visually-impaired musicians
  • Publication Type:
    Journal article
  • Publication Sub Type:
  • Authors:
    Baker DC, Green L
  • Publication date:
  • Journal:
    Research Studies in Music Education
  • Volume:
  • Issue:
  • Print ISSN:
This article discusses findings on schooling, pedagogy and notation in the life-experiences of amateur and professional visually-impaired musicians; and the professional experiences of sighted music teachers who work with visually-impaired learners. The study formed part of a broader UK Arts and Humanities Research Council funded project, officially entitled “Visually-impaired musicians’ lives: Trajectories of musical practice, participation and learning” (Grant ref. AH/K003291/1), but which came to be known as “Visually-Impaired Musicians’ Lives” (VIML) (see http://vimusicians.ioe.ac.uk). The project was led at the UCL Institute of Education, London, UK and supported by the Royal Academy of Music, London, and Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) UK, starting in 2013 and concluding in 2015. It sourced “insider” perspectives from 219 adult blind and partially-sighted musicians, and 6 sighted music teachers, through life history interviews, in tandem with an international questionnaire, which collected quantitative and qualitative data. Through articulating a range of “insider” voices, this paper examines some issues, as construed by respondents, around educational equality and inclusion in music for visually-impaired children and adults in relation to three main areas: the provision of mainstream schooling versus special schools; pedagogy, including the preparedness of teachers to respond to the needs of visually-impaired learners; and the educational role of notation, focussing particularly on Braille as well as other print media. The investigation found multifaceted perspectives on the merits of visually-impaired children being educated in either mainstream or special educational contexts. These related to matters such as access to specific learning opportunities, a lack of understanding of visually-impaired musicians’ learning processes at times (including accessible technologies and score media) in mainstream contexts, and concerns about the knowledge of music educators in relation to visual impairment. Regarding pedagogy, there were challenges raised, but also helpful areas for sighted music educators to consider, such as differentiation by sight condition and approach, and the varying roles of gesture, language, light, and touch. There was a diversity of musical participation in visually-impaired adult learners, along with some surprising barriers as well as opportunities linked to different genres and musical contexts, particularly in relation to various print media, and sight reading.
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