Blind People Can Sight Read Too

Day 1

Blind People Can Sight Read Too Day 1

Learning Objective: Students will learn how to read the notes of the scale, as eighths, quarters, halves and whole notes.

Materials Needed: Copy of the braille notes with their values, and copy of notes for students to practice reading, provided in the Learning Kit.

Activity: Maybe you already know how to read braille music, and maybe you don't. This week we will spend time learning/reviewing how the notes of all pitches and values are written, learning how notes sound in relation to each other, and then singing the notes, in whatever order they are written. This is called "sight singing".

Let's start first by looking at how the notes are written.

You will notice that in the document Notes with Their Values, the words eighth, quarter, half, and whole are written across the top. Going down the left hand side, the letters c, d, e, f, g, a, and b are written. Though this is hard to help a print reader understand, c an eighth is written as a braille d; d an eighth is written as a braille e, e an eighth is written as a braille f; f an eighth is written as a braille g; g an eighth is written as a braille h; a an eighth is written as a braille I; and b an eighth is written as a braille j. To make an eighth note into a quarter, you add the bottom dot on the right, the dot 6. It’s easy to remember this because quarter and right both have r’s in them. To make an eighth note into a half, you add the dot 3, the bottom dot on the left (both left and half have f’s. To make an eighth into a whole note you add both bottom dots to the eighth note.

Notes with Their Values

Eighth Quarter Half Whole

c d

d e

e f

f g

g h

a i

b j

Students, you will notice that c a quarter is a th sign, c a half is an n, and c a whole looks like the letter y.

The rest of the notes follow the same pattern.

You may have to think a bit, but let’s see if you can read the following notes, and state their values.

E an eighth, c a quarter, f a half, d an eighth, a a whole, g a quarter, d a half, f an eighth, g a whole, d a quarter, e a half, a an eighth, c a whole, e a quarter,

B an eighth, f a whole, b a half, g an eighth, e a whole, c a half, a a quarter, c an eighth, g a half, b a whole, f a quarter, d a whole, a a half, b a quarter

That is quite a good day’s work. Tomorrow we’ll learn how we know which c to play or sing.

Day 2

Blind People Can Sight Read Too Day 2

Learning Objective: Students will learn to read octave marks, which help blind musicians know how high or low to play or sing a note.

Materials Needed: Copy of the octave marks and notes contained in the Learning Kit.

Activity: Which C is Which?

Print music is written on a staff, which is made up of 5 lines and 4 spaces. There is one staff for the lower notes—the bass staff—and one for the higher notes—the treble staff. A special symbol at the left end of the 5 lines tells whether the notes are for bass or treble. A little line between the bass and treble staffs represents middle C.

In braille music, we use a bass clef sign, }, to show that a group of notes is for the male voices, or lower instruments. We use a treble clef sign, ], for the ladies and higher instruments. But there are a lot of lower and higher notes, and we need to know which C, g, or B we are talking, about! In order to figure this all out, let's look at the piano keyboard.

To begin with, what we call Middle C is in the middle of all of the keys, right below the piano maker's name. But, there are several other Cs on the piano. In order to know which one to play or sing, we put an octave number before the note. Let's see if we can tell how many Cs there are on the piano. Start way down at the left end. The third key from the left is a C. Notice that it is to the left of 2 black keys. If you move your hand to the right you will see that there are 3 black keys together. Whenever you are looking for a C, it will be to the left of a 2-black-key group.

We will call that first C, on the left of the piano, 1st octave C. Let's see if you can tell how many Cs there are on the piano. To do this, find the next group of 2 black keys, and play the note right to the left of it. Continue finding other 2 black key groups and counting the number of Cs. When you get to the right end of the piano you will see a group of 3 black keys. The very last note, on the right end of the piano, is also a C, and a 2 black key group would have come right after it, if the piano was longer. That last note on the piano is the 8th C.

But, we need a way to know which C we are talking about, in order to know which one to sing or play. So, we will assign each one an octave mark, with that first one we talked about—on the left end of the piano—being first octave C. Here are the symbols for the octave numbers.

Octave Marks

Dot 4 y--1st octave C

Dots 4-5 y—2nd octave C

Dots 4-5-6 y—3rd octave C

Dot 5 y--4th octave C

Dots 4-6 y--5th octave C

Dots 5-6 y--6th octave C

Dot 6 y--7th octave C

Dot 6 dot 6 y--8th octave C

So, by putting an octave number before a note, we can find it on the piano, or know where it should be sung. The notes between each of the Cs are all in whatever octave number was written before the C. Read these notes and tell their value and which octave they are in:

1st octave c a whole, 3rd octave a a quarter, 4th octave f a quarter, 5th octave e an eighth

4th octave b a quarter, 3rd octave a a half, 5th octave g an eighth, 4th octave g a whole, 1st octave a an eighth, 6th octave g a quarter, 6th octave e an eighth

3rd octave b an eighth, 4th octave a a quarter, 5th octave d a whole, 6th octave g a half, 4th octave e a quarter

2nd octave f a quarter, 3rd octave a a half, 4th octave c an eighth, 5th octave e a whole, 4th octave d a quarter

7th octave c a half, 1st octave a a whole, 2nd octave b a quarter, 5th octave b an eighth, 3rd octave a a quarter, 4th octave g a half, 8th octave e a whole

4th octave a a whole, 6th octave a a quarter, 3rd octave g an eighth, 2nd octave e a half, 5 octave d an eighth

This was a lot of new information to take in, and you are doing great. Tomorrow we’ll talk about time signatures.

Day 3

Blind People Can Sight Read Too Day 3

Learning Objective: Students will learn to read time signatures, and be able to tell what the two numbers of them mean. They will also learn about the scale, and begin to understand how the degrees of it are related to each other.

Materials Needed: A copy of the braille music materials, which were part of the Learning Kit.

Activity: Today we’re going to learn about time signatures. Let’s start by looking at the explanation below.

Time Signatures

We all know music has rhythm, and we feel it. Groups of notes are divided into measures, with each measure having a certain amount of beats.

In print music there are 2 numbers, one above the other, at the left end of the staff. These numbers tell us how many beats there are in each measure, and what kind of note gets 1 count. This is called the time signature.

In braille music the time signature is written with a literary number first, and a Nemeth number after it, above the first line of notes. So, if you see 3-4, you would count 3 beats per measure, and a quarter note would get one count. If the signature was 6-8 you would count 6 beats per measure, and an eighth note would get one count.

Read the following time signatures and tell me what each of the numbers means.

3-8, 4-4, 12-8, 3-4, 2-2, 6-8

The Major Scale

A scale is a group of eight notes. We call each note a degree. So, if you start on a C, C is the first note, or degree, of the scale. D, which is just to the right of C, is the 2nd degree, E is the 3rd, F is the 4th, G is the 5th, A is the 6th, B is the 7th, and C is the 8th, or octave, which means 8 notes.

I am sure you have heard the song "Do, a Deer." This song shows the notes of the scale with syllable names instead of letters:

Do, Re, Mi, Fa, Sol, La, Ti Do.

This has been another good day of listening and learning about music. Tomorrow we’ll talk more about intervals, and learn how to hear them and know which interval they are.

Day 4

Blind People Can Sight Read Too Day 4

Learning Objective: Students will learn how to listen to two notes played in succession, and be able to tell what kind of a melodic interval it is.

Materials Needed: Sheet of music and the pitch pipe, included in the Learning Kit.

Activity: Let’s review what we talked about yesterday. Can anyone tell me what 3-4 time means? Right, the first number says how many beats in a measure, and the second tells what kind of note gets one count.

Now let’s talk more about intervals. Remember that intervals which are two notes played or sung at the same time are called harmonic, because they are harmonizing with each other. Notes that are played consecutively—one after the other—are melodic. When we sang the C followed by D yesterday—with C being the first note of the scale and D the 2nd—we were singing what we call a 2nd. A 2nd is always made up of two notes right next to each other. When we sang C followed by E, we were singing a 3rd, because there are three notes involved.

Here are the 8 melodic intervals of the major scale, with songs that can help you tell what melodic interval they are by the way they sound.

C-D—a 2nd--Do, A Deer, My Country 'Tis of Thee, or Happy Birthday

C-E—a 3rd--The Bear Went Over the Mountain

C-F—a 4th--Bingo, Here Comes the Bride

C-G—a 5th--Twinkle, Twinkle

C-A—a 6th--My Bonnie LiesOver the Ocean

C-B—a 7th—I couldn’t think of a song for this interval, but you’ll be able to tell it because it sounds rather unpleasing.

C-C—an 8th or octave--Somewhere Over the Rainbow

Now that we have practiced these melodic intervals, let's try to sing the following melody. Notice its time signature.


Ccgg aag ffee ddc

Ggff eed ggff eed

Ccgg aag ffee ddn

] ought'iouer ederr whedq ederr

] ought'iouer ederr or ednv


] day edffef er'edf wheede ed'thd

] edffef er'owi ouhere n'ghk


] daydef dfwh ddef thw

] daydef gfed jhij thth

Day 5

Blind People Can Sight Read Too Day 5

Learning Objective: Students will use what they know about intervals to sight read songs.

Materials Needed: Sheet of melodies and pitch pipe, provided in the Learning Kit.

Activity: Well, this is our last day to spend time sight reading some songs. Knowing what you have learned, I am sure you’ll be able to figure them out.

In order to tell which note to start with, let’s look over our pitch pipe. Since I haven't seen one of them yet, We’ll figure it out together.


Gagf efg def efg

Gagf efg dg ec


C eeede fee dddcd ecc

Eeede faa ggfd c


Ccde ced ccde cb

Ccde fedc bgab cc

Now that we have gotten through our songs, let’s practice identifying melodic intervals again. I will play an interval, and see if you can tell me which one it is.

It’s been a lot of fun working with all of you this week. I hope that you’ll keep thinking about music, and that you try to notice intervals from time to time.