Pro Member Joey Stuckey interviews, Dancing Dots' Bill McCann
When I first realized that I wanted to be a musician for a living, I tried various methods to figure out how I would learn music.
I have many skills as a blind musician, but also some obstacles that I had to overcome.
The biggest obstacle—how was I supposed to read music notation like my sighted counterparts so we could play together.
The first and most obvious solution was Braille music, but there was no one near me that could teach Braille music, so eventually I had to use the other tools at my disposal—my ear and my memory. However, this made many genres of music difficult to learn, especially classical!
In today’s technologically superior world, Dancing Dots founder Bill McCann says that we have taken great steps to even the playing field with the suite of music hardware and software now available from companies like his.
In the early days of Dancing Dots, they assisted those musicians that knew Braille music by developing a MIDI program that could take a MIDI recording and turn it into a Braille score or chart. That prototype became the program Good Feel which is now used in 52 countries around the world for Braille music! Now the company has brought even more flexibility and innovation to creating, editing, and sharing Braille music with their suite of products called Good Feel, Lime, Lime Lighter, and SharpEye.
All the products are accessible for both sighted and blind users and are screen reader friendly so that you can see the score in print, either standard print or large print, hear the notes played back using general MIDI, read Braille on a Braille display, or read the info with your screen reader as well if you don’t know Braille music.
Even better, if your music notation software of choice, like Finale or Sibelius, has the capability to export the “Music XML” formats, then you can convert any music into Braille or read it with your screen reader.
And, with technology like Zoom, the folks at Dancing Dots can even teach you how to read Braille music or tutor you on their software virtually, something I wish I had access to back in my formative years.
Looking to the future, Bill is very interested in bringing more innovation to blind music creatives. He even has a prototype that would allow blind musicians to do the equivalent of sight-reading using Braille. The problem now is that to play music normally requires both hands and to read Braille also requires both hands. Bill’s amazing solution is to have a device that lets you read Braille with your tongue. Of course, this would be impractical for brass or woodwind players, but it is a cool idea. I mean can you imagine sight-reading the music at the gig and not having to memorize everything? Bill and Dancing Dots even dream of a time where we can directly communicate with the computer notation software by just thinking of the music we want to create and the computer will make it into a score.
Before I close, I should say that Dancing Dots also offers training for some of the most popular recording software out there including ProTools and Reaper. To learn more, visit www.dancingdots.com