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A Guide to Music Braille Resources Available from Opus Technologies

NOTE: An updated version of this guide is now available. Click on Music Braille Product Guide.

Opus Technologies sells most of the standard learning and reference materials for music braille. This guide will help you to decide which resources best meet your needs.

A. Reading Braille Music

We recommend that you start with How to Read Braille Music, 2nd Edition by Bettye Krolick (1998, 44 pages). This book gives an overview of braille music, and explains the music braille symbols most frequently found in elementary through intermediate-level music. Written at a fifth grade reading level, it is suitable for both children and adults. Our best-seller (over 1600 copies sold), this book is available in print ($12.95), braille ($19.95), and CD-ROM for PC Windows ($79). Get the braille version for the blind musician, and the print version for the sighted teacher, parent, or aide. The CD-ROM edition has interactive features and plays back the musical examples.

The Primer of Braille Music by Edward Jenkins (1960 with 1971 addenda, 136 pages) teaches braille music in 30 lessons with braille music reading exercises. Available in print ($41) and braille ($30).

B. Teaching Blind Music Students

For music teachers of blind piano students, They Shall Have Braille Music by Dorothy Dykema (1986, 62 pages) is filled with helpful tips regarding the unique needs of blind piano students, and gives alternative methods for teaching blind musicians. Available in print for $10.

C. Transcribing Printed Music into Braille

If you are a sighted parent, teacher, aide or transcriber, and you want to learn how to transcribe printed music into braille, you’ll need Introduction to Braille Music Transcription by Mary Turner De Garmo (1974, 281 pages). This is the text used by those studying to become certified music braille transcribers in the U.S. and Canada. It gives detailed transcribing lessons and has lots of examples and exercises for you to try. Available in print for $63.

When you need to transcribe printed music into braille, consider using our PC Windows software program called OpusDots Lite that will translate single-line music into braille. Single-line music is the type of music most often used by blind musicians in school music programs, such as music for band instruments (e.g. flute, clarinet, trumpet), orchestral instruments (e.g. violin, viola, cello), or chorus (soprano, alto, tenor, or bass music line). You must first enter the music into the program by scanning the printed music with a scanner, then clicking on each musical element one by one over the scanned image. OpusDots Lite will then translate the music automatically into braille. The program can handle most of the examples and exercises in chapters 1 through 15 of the De Garmo book mentioned above. OpusDots Lite is available at a special introductory price of $299 through December 31, 2000.

D. Music Braille Code Books

We offer two reference books that contain detailed explanations of the rules for the music braille code. They’re not meant to be read cover to cover, but they’re handy for looking up how specific musical situations are done in braille. They each have a braille sign index so you can find out what a specific braille sign means, and an alphabetic index so you can look up terms like arpeggio or pizzicato.

The New International Manual of Braille Music Notation compiled by Bettye Krolick (1996, 282 pages) explains the braille music signs and rules that have been adopted as the new international standard by 16 countries in the World Blind Union, including the U.S. and Canada. It is available in print ($79), braille in 3 volumes ($89), and CD-ROM for PC Windows ($149). In the CD-ROM edition you can navigate through the entire book by clicking on hyperlinks, or search for specific words or braille signs. You can click on any music symbol or braille sign and a window will pop up to explain what it means. And you can listen to audio playback of each musical example.

The music braille code book for the U.S. and Canada, formerly called the Manual of Braille Music Notation, American Edition, 1988 has been updated by the Braille Authority of North America to conform to the new international standard. The new manual is now called Music Braille Code 1997 (1997, 362 pages), and is available in print ($45) and braille in 5 volumes ($45).

E. Braille Sheet Music

We publish and sell braille editions of pop music from Hal Leonard Corp., the world’s largest print music publishing company. We currently offer 25 individual sheet music pieces, consisting of the piano vocal guitar (pvg), easy piano (ep), or piano solo (ps) versions of the following songs:

  1. Forrest Gump Main Title (Feather Theme): ep, ps
  2. Great Balls of Fire (Jerry Lee Lewis): pvg
  3. Heart and Soul: pvg, ep, ps
  4. Imagine (John Lennon): pvg, ep, ps
  5. Memory (From 'Cats'): pvg, ep, ps
  6. My Heart Will Go On (Love Theme from 'Titanic'): pvg, ep, ps
  7. Tears in Heaven (Eric Clapton): pvg, ep, ps
  8. Unchained Melody (The Righteous Brothers): pvg, ep
  9. What a Wonderful World (Louis Armstrong): pvg, ep, ps
  10. Yesterday (The Beatles): pvg, ep

We sell each sheet music piece in braille ($9.95), print ($3.95), or both ($12.95). We offer optional 19-hole comb binding for the braille music, with plastic front and back covers, for $2.00 per binding.

To Order

Based in San Diego, California, Opus Technologies has been developing and selling software, print, and braille materials for learning and using music braille since 1992. Our customers include blind musicians and students, braille transcribers, parents, teachers and educators, and schools and libraries in the U.S. and around the world. We accept credit cards (MC, VISA, AMEX), checks, bank transfers, and purchase orders from institutions. Please add $5 shipping and handling per U.S. order ($10 for Canada and Mexico, inquire for other countries). To order, or for additional information, contact Opus Technologies at 13333 Thunderhead St., San Diego, CA 92129, USA, Phone/Fax: (858) 538-9401, Toll-free: (866) OPUSTEC or (866) 678-7832, email: opus@opustec.com, website: www.opustec.com.

This product announcement is available as an Adobe Acrobat pdf file (19KB).