International Conference on Braille Music
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The International Symposium on Braille Music Notes, with more than 60 participants from 16 countries and high-class workshops, was one of the highlights in the 5th year of the project DaCapo / BACH - Access to Braille Music. The conference, which was held in Leipzig, at the German central library for the blind (DZB), was an excellent opportunity for experts to meet and discuss the development of digital processing and new teaching concepts for Braille music.
The symposium was opened by DZB's director, Dr. Thomas Kahlisch. Among the audience were representatives of the German Federal Ministry for Labour and Social Affairs and the University of Leipzig, as well as numerous experts from all over the world. In his contribution Dr. Kahlisch emphasised that the DZB will continue it's commitment for Braille music transcription in future.
Afterwards, Matthias Leopold, the DaCapo project's technical manager, introduced the DZB's manifold activities in this field. The focus of future developments will be on a more efficient computer-aided Braille music transcription, more cooperation with commercial publishers of music books, and a network between libraries for the blind within and outside Europe.
Mona Sinno, a representative of the Federal Ministry for Labour and Social Affairs, department Va1 "Equation of disabled people, basic issues of policies for the disabled", was impressed by the symposium's internationality, the great diversity of pedagogical and technical topics, and the high quality of the presented results.
The Chairman of the World Blind Union's Subcommittee for Braille Music Notation, Christian Waldvogel, stated the huge importance of propagating Braille music worldwide.
International participants introduced special aspects regarding Braille music production in their respective countries, namely Italy, Japan, Poland, Germany, the US, and Sweden. Furthermore, new pedagogical concepts for teaching Braille music from the UK, New Zealand, the US, Sweden, and Germany were presented and discussed. In four workshops the participants were given the opportunity to experience and apply these new concepts.
The cultural highlights of the event were a concert by Professor Holm Vogel (Institute for Sacred Music, organ) and guided tours of the impressing exhibition at the Museum for Musical Instruments of Leipzig University in English and German. This international conference marked the beginning of a long-term cooperation between the museum and the DZB.
Members of the DaCapo team were delighted that the symposium attracted so many participants who made high-quality contributions. It is intended to continue promoting an international network between libraries and schools for the blind in the near future. Regarding the training of teachers to use digital media, the cooperation will be intensified. Dr. Kahlisch stressed the high importance of a public interest in the work of highly committed blind musicians and music students and introduced the DZB's future projects for the promotion of Braille music, in order to improve the access to musical works for professional and non-professional blind musicians, especially for children and adolescents.