A close-up photo of a young child's hands scanning braille. 'National Braille Week'

National Braille Week 2023

It’s National Braille Week! We are celebrating braille music and its importance to blind and partially sighted musicians.

What is braille music?

Louis Braille created braille music based on a system of raised dots arranged in ‘cells.’ Each cell consists of up to six dots arranged in two columns of three.

The six dots of a braille cell arranged in two columns of three. The corresponding dot numbers are next to each dot.

64 different combinations are possible within a cell, as each dot can be present or absent. There are many more than 64 discrete aspects of music that may need representation within braille music. A cell can therefore mean more than one thing, depending on the context in which it occurs. This can make it more complex to learn braille music.

The role of braille music

At least one hand is required to scan braille, which can impact a musician’s ability to play an instrument. For this reason, braille music is often used to aid memory retention rather than as a real-time reference during performances.

Learning braille music

Braille music can play an important role in the progression and development of a blind or partially sighted musician. Whilst not all vision impaired musicians will need or want to learn braille music, it is still vital that vision impaired children and young people have the opportunity to learn to read the code if this is an area of music they enjoy.

You can read more about the importance of braille music and teaching methods at Amber Sound Touch, a free online resource for teaching music to blind and partially sighted children.

Lydia is an Amber Music Award recipient

Lydia is an exceptionally talented multi-instrumentalist. As part of her Amber Music Award, she receives braille music tuition.

‘I have been able to grasp braille music and accessible music technology because The Amber Trust also fund lessons for me in that area. I will always be grateful to The Amber Trust for making this possible, as music is, and always has been, one of my favourite things to do.’

Lydia recently passed her Piano Grade 5 exam with Distinction and passed her Classical Singing Grade 7 exam with Distinction last year.

Amber’s believes every blind and partially sighted child should be able to learn braille music if they would like to. We’re delighted that Lydia has been able to explore this area of her musical interest and talent.

Supporting blind and partially sighted children

It currently costs £45 for one braille music lesson. If you would like to support the work we do, you can donate here.

Various musical instruments accompany the words, ‘How your money helps… £15 pays for a group music session; £25 pays for one music lesson; £45 pays for one braille lesson; £200 pays for one term of singing lessons; £500 pays for a year of Little Amber sessions; £1,500 pays for one workshop programme.