Meet James

Louis Braille was only 3 years old when he was injured in his father’s workshop and lost his vision. In the early 1800’s, opportunities were scarce for blind individuals; however, with the support of his parents, priest and teachers, Louis Braille prospered. By the age of 15 he developed the braille code followed by the music code 5 years later. He went on to become a teacher at the Royal Institute for Blind Youth and an accomplished organist and cellist. Although his braille code was not accepted by the French government until 2 years after his death, his accomplishments were not in vain…

Fast forward 200+ years to James, a 16-year-old boy who plays euphonium in his high school band. Because of severe glaucoma and limited vision, James relies on listening to other players to learn his part. While playing by ear is beneficial, it relies on others to read and interpret the music. When a musician reads a musical piece independently, it allows for creative expression  that is not copied from someone else, as well as personal access to music at all times.

Lighthouse of Collier started a music braille program and invited James to participate. James recently experienced the aha! moment of reading basic braille notes and playing them on a piano. He begins band camp next week and has already obtained copies of his print music to begin the process of translation to braille. He recognizes the importance of music literacy, as the past COVID year limited his exposure to peers who would typically demonstrate his part. James is looking forward to returning to the Lighthouse for music braille instruction and collaboration with other musicians after a long year of isolation. His determination and positive attitude echo the mindset of Louis Braille, and remind us professionals, parents and friends how important it is to continually learn and support our students’ needs.