Segments in this Video

Braille Music Challenge (02:19)


James Risdon is a professional musician, who has been encouraging others to learn and utilize braille music. He has created a group of six musicians, who all use braille music, to write, learn, and record a piece.

History of Blind Education (05:08)

After realizing he did not know much about the system of braille itself, Risdon set out to learn about its history. Valentin Hauy was an educator, who opened for the first school for blind children in 1785. While most people believed the blind could not be educated, Hauy realized they could learn through tactical reading.

History of Braille (05:43)

Louis Braille was a student at Hauy's the Institut National Des Jeunes Aveugles, or INJA. When Braille began attending the school, students read normal letters stamped into thick paper and the night writing code. Braille became a teacher at the school and developed a simpler version of the night writing code.

Braille and Music (04:45)

Braille was a musician and taught piano, music theory, and other music classes at INJA. The prevalence of blind organists can be traced back to Braille's teachings in Paris.

Braille in the UK (08:19)

Thomas Armitage studied the daily lives of blind people in Victorian London. He changed the use of tactical reading methods taught in British schools by visiting schools for the blind throughout Europe. He helped open a music school for blind students to give them a viable career path.

Blindness and the Piano (03:28)

The tradition of blind piano tuners traveled from France to the UK in Braille's day and has continued into the present. Schools for the blind in both countries offer three-year courses in piano technology.

Musical Tribute to Braille (04:24)

Risdon wanted to honor Braille's contribution through composing, playing, and recording a piece of music by six blind musicians. Composer Zoe Dixon is composing the piece for five instruments and a singer. She based the piece on a poem by Emily Dickinson.

Braille Composition (03:55)

Risdon explains how Dixon's composition is transferred from commercial composing software to a braille copy. Risdon uses a braille music translation program and an embosser, which is a printer for braille.

Blind Lutenist (05:35)

Matthew Wadsworth is a professional lutenist, who does not believe being blind held him back in his music career. He first learned music by ear and then taught himself to read braille music. The lute uses its own system of music and Wadsworth developed a braille version.

Blind Singer (02:01)

Victoria Oruwari is a professional singer, who lost her sight at the age of 6. She was exposed to braille music as her school for the blind, which expanded her understanding of braille.

Blind Pianist (04:50)

Kevin Satizabal taught himself to play the piano by listening to popular music. He was admitted to the Royal College of Music, where he learned braille music. He and Oruwari often perform together.

Blind Flutist and Teacher (02:53)

Liz Hargest is a flutist and music teacher, who has been blind since birth. She cannot see her students and must rely on other methods to teach them.

Blind Musician and Composer (06:25)

Baluji Shrivastav had musical talent since he was a child and did not let his blindness stop him. He plays numerous instruments but enjoys the sitar the most. He has translated Indian, Arabic, and Japanese songs into braille.

Group Rehearsal (07:18)

Peter Bosher is a music producer, who is working on the composition to honor Braille. The group has never worked together before and the composition is rather difficult. The musicians rehearse playing their parts together.

Recording Session (08:29)

After discussing the piece, the group changes how they want to record it. Shrivastav improvised the percussion to go along with the Dixon's composition.

Final Product (04:34)

Risdon is pleased with the final recording of the song. He believes the importance braille music played in its creation is a fitting tribute to Braille.

Credits: Braille Music (00:52)

Credits: Braille Music

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Braille Music

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Exploring the history of blind musicianship, filmmaker Michael House travelled to visit Institut National des Jeunes Aveugles and L´association Valentin Haüy in Paris where so much of Louis Braille's legacy is alive and in practice, not only his system of writing but also his musical classroom and his organ teaching classes. Inspired by the visit, House decided to pay homage to Braille by finding out how the system called braille came about and discovered that music was an integral part of its creation. This is how the idea of composing, rehearsing and recording a piece of music in braille with blind artists arose. Zoe Dixon was 17 when she composed Hope which subsequently was recorded in a West London Studio featuring James Risdon (recorder), Zoe Dixon (clarinet), Matthew Wadsworth (lute/theorbo), Baluji Shrivastav (tabla), Kevin Satizabal (piano), and Victoria Orawari (Sopran).

Length: 82 minutes

Item#: BVL162985

ISBN: 978-1-64481-432-1

Copyright date: ©2017

Closed Captioned

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Not available to Home Video and Publisher customers.

Only available in USA and Canada.