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Joined: Apr 2021
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I'm blind in one eye and legally blind in the other and can't see sheet music from a normal distance on the piano. Enlarging it used to work for me, but my vision has gotten a lot worse since. In order to see it at this point I have to enlarge it such that I have issues with continuity and seeing everything at once and have to turn pages too often to be practical. I'm curious if there are other blind or visually impaired pianists out there who have figured out decent solutions to this problem or know of any technology that would be helpful. Thanks so much!

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I have not dealt with such a situation and so I have no ideas about solutions, but I have to say, I feel for you, and I hope that some others here may have some good information for you.

I can relate a little bit from how hard it is for me to read the scores of piano concertos when all that I have is the "full" score, meaning that it shows all the orchestra parts in addition to the piano part. That means that usually I can see only 1 line at a time, which means I play for a few seconds and then I have to look God-knows-where to see what comes next. If it's an online score, I have to keep stopping for a fair amount of time in order to scroll down exactly the right amount to get to the next line, which makes what I'm playing sound pretty bizarre.

And, I'm sure that the difficulty I'm talking about with concerto scores, for someone who isn't visually impaired, is nothing compared to what you deal with. As I said, I feel for you, and hope that there may be some decent solutions.

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Marcus Roberts uses a device to read music, which can be seen on his lap in some of his videos. It has been quite a while since I worked at one of his concerts, but I suspect that he uses it more as a reminder when he plays in public.

Braille music is available, and I think you can borrow it from the Library of Congress. But you may find it easier to play by ear.


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I'm wondering if there's some sort of extra long extendable tablet thingy which would display more than the usual amount of music, so you didn't have to turn so frequently? Some tech-y member here might know. (I unfortunately don't, as you can tell by the fact that I called it a tablet thingy...)


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Currawong, that's the sort of thing I'm hoping exists!

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BDB, if it's on his lap my guess is it's some sort of electronic braille display. I do know the braille music code but that really doesn't help me too much at this point. Braille music is written very differently than print music and I'm not proficient in it by any means. It's very bulky, all written in a linear fashion often with multiple symbols to indicate one thing (because there are only so many combinations of six dots many times multiple cells have to be used to indicate certain things), and in my experience hard to put the parts together. Anyone who uses braille has to rely entirely on memorization, and I can see the print music well enough up very close to my eye and magnified for memorization purposes. It's much easier for me to read print as that's what I'm used to; it's just not adequate for reading while playing. I would love to find a solution to this as I really am a decent player but I've been very set back by this. Memorizing literally everything I want to play is a big burden and keeps me from playing as much or as wide a variety as I would like.

Last edited by Quentin Parker; 06/04/21 08:11 AM.
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Thanks, Mark C. Yes, if it's enlarged that much it's easy to completely lose continuity and my vision is poor enough I frequently lose my place and miss smaller markings as well. It's very frustrating.

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Hi Quentin. What method of enlargement do you currently use - big paper, iPad screen, laptop screen? When you enlarge, how big is the paper or screen? What piano do you play - how big is the music desk? Is the top of the piano too high up for a screen, or is it right there like in a digital console piano? Do you use a windows pc or a Mac?

There is a category of computer monitors ‘portable usb monitor’ that could fit on a music desk. There are larger than normal tablets, and there are large screen all in 1 PCs like iMac.


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If you get your music from a music notation program, for instance Musescore, you can make it exactly the size that you prefer. So would it be an idea to buy a rather large tablet, make the notes large enough for you to read it and connect a page turner to your tablet?


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Several years ago I set up a computer (for email and web browsing and whatnot) for a chap who had very poor eyesight, so we used one of the big flat-screen television sets for a monitor and set it up so the smallest letters on the screen were about two inches high.

He was very pleased with the result.

That wasn't for music, but maybe you could do something similar and use a large television set for a monitor. You could fit at least a half-page and maybe even a full page onto the screen. You could turn the television set sideways for a full-page display or leave it in its normal orientation for a half-page display.


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I should have included more details. Up until last year I would usually use PDFs or scans and get music printed in 2x at a copier on larger sheets of paper (11x17 and trim if necessary) so I wouldn't have so many pages to deal with. With where my vision is now that's not practical anymore (I need more like 6x). Recently I've been trying to use a laptop (Windows), which set on top of the piano (70s Yamaha Japanese made spinet) is about the distance sheet music would be on a grand, but obviously because of how little is displayed at a time it really messes with continuity. I could get a lot closer to an iPad, but don't have one currently. Or I use paper, hold it close to my face, and try to memorize as I go (similar to the braille music option suggested earlier). It's either that or use very poor posture to lean forward to look at the music, which isn't a sustainable option at all. My eye also gets worn out really quickly and just wants to stop focusing or tracking after a while which also makes extended practice difficult. When I play at church I memorize everything each week and don't bother with music (appx 7 hymns, offertory, service music, prelude and postlude). My poor vision has definitely kept me from working on new pieces, and I find myself constantly going over old repertoire instead.

There are two options I've heard of, both of which are very expensive: telescope glasses and the limelighter program from Dancing Dots, which uses a pedal to scroll through music. I really don't know what's the better option, if either are. I would love to hear from anyone who has experience with either, or who knows of a cheaper way to rig something up. My concern with spending that much is that even with adequate magnification I'm afraid I just wouldn't be able to see enough at one time, even if the scrolling issue is resolved. I would really love to know how fully blind pianists do it. Memorizing everything as you go really puts a damper on playing.

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Frank Cox, thanks for the suggestion! That would give me a big screen. I wonder if there's any way to rig up a system to scroll. I'm not very creative or handy when it comes to things like that, unfortunately.

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Berklee school of music in Boston offers a course in assistive music tech
Maybe if you call they can answer your questions?

tel:617 747 8677

mailto:musictherapy@berklee.edu


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There are 'page turner' pedals that tell music software on a PC or tablet to turn the page forward & back for you.
https://newzik.com/blog/best-page-turners/

Or if you prefer to use your hands you could get a small midi controller next to the screen and set it up to send page turn commands.


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Dogperson, thanks for the info!

Markof Johnson, that's very helpful. I had no idea such a thing existed aside from the limelighter program. I can probably rig up something similar to limelighter but for much less. Only thing I'm not sure about is how to get a really large, lightweight, portable screen like that.

Last edited by Quentin Parker; 06/05/21 05:41 PM.
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Hello Quintin, I’ve been using a system of reading music enlarged 280% printed from IMSLP onto an HP designjet T1 20 large format printer , paper size 24 x 36”. A generous amount of the classical piano solo literature is available from IMSLP I hang one sheet over a PVC pipe positioned between two 3-lamp headed floor lamps on the lowest lamp level. Room lighting of whatever kind Hneeds to be coming from behind you to fall on the paper productively. I highly recommend selected LED light color that works for you to light your music source. Alternately , I fold the 36 inch length of paper into half or thirds, hold it in one hand, learn notes, and vice versa. Memorizing solo literature frees up expression for that repertoire.

I tried exploring the computer tablet etc. route but one of my eye conditions doesn’t work well at all with back lighting from computer screen.
To try using print size on 24 x 36 paper go to a copy shop and give them a page to be printed on that size and see if it works I hope this method might be helpful for you!


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