The week of August 3rd-7th I was privileged enough to work with an extraordinary group of kids at the Ohio State School for the Blind. For those that don’t know this school teaches a wide range of kids with visual impairments, from completely blind to just very near sighted. Not only do they teach kids, they house them and feed them throughout the year, and when they graduate they can still come but, until they are 22. But what’s even more incredible is the fact that the music program fields a MARCHING band every year, yes a BLIND marching band. These kids overcome all adversity to partake in one of the most traditional forms of music in the United States, and do it while not seeing the music or where they are going. Now, the students who need more help do have “marching assistants” who are volunteers which help guide the students around the field. My job was less of guiding them and more of teaching the kids their music for the week. Which in in-of it self was very complicated as half the kids didn’t know how to read music if they could even see it.
The human brain acts in very strange ways, and as one sense is taken away normally all others are enhanced. This is the case for these kids, they may not be able to see the music but their ability to listen and memorize parts and play what I play is incredible. I would break down songs and play their parts while explaining the patterns to them, all the while they are memorizing everything I say and play. By the end of the week the kids were marching to five different songs at various tempos.
This week not only offered me the chance to work with a drumline but it gave me a chance to learn how I teach others and to improve on my teaching skills. I had so much fun with this camp that I plan on using all my resources from STEP to work more band camps next year, and with the valuable experience of this camp I know I can grow to be a great percussion instructor.
Please enjoy some pictures I took during the camp: