Well 2020 was an interesting year for myself at Sparrow Sound Studio.
Like so many professions, COVID quietened things right down for some months. Towards the latter half of last year, I worked on some very interesting projects. One of the most notable for me was the Braille project, working with totally blind School teacher Christine Kasey. As most of you know, I myself am totally blind and have worked in the audio industry for most of my working life. I am also a user of braille.
Opportunity for Growth ‘Knocked”
Christine Kasey, a specialist braille teacher with the Queensland State wide Vision Impairment Services branch of the Department of Education wanted to teach kids through music and song how to write their braille letters. She has composed a series of small jingle like songs for each letter of the alphabet, teaching kids to remember how to write each letter in braille.
She approached me about arranging, recording, producing and playing the 26 songs. This was a very interesting and enlightening thing for me to do, as I had never produced work for children before, but I do how ever have a lot of experience with jingle and advertising production. I have worked in the radio industry for many years as a producer of programs, and promotional material, and have done advertising work at Sparrow Sound Studio for various companies over the years, so I felt I was half the way there for undertaking this task. The rest I think, came down to having an interesting batch of material to work with.. It set my mind to thinking about how we could turn the memorable songs into something that could be used in the classroom.
Now for a quick braille lesson
The Braille code is based on a series of 6 dots, dot 1 through dot 6. Each brail character is made using combinations of these dots. End of lesson. Ha ha!!!
Christine composed these songs in such a way, so that the names of the dot numbers that makes up each letter, related to the note number when sung to a musical scale of notes. For example. The letter “E”is written with dots 1 and 5. So the song for letter “E” was based around note one and 5 of the D scale. Notes D and A.
A vast majority of blind kids have a good sense and appreciation for music. So for most blind children, this music connection with the braille dot numbers would make perfect sense. Many also have perfect pitch, and can really hear any note and just know what it is. Christine’s braille with music idea would certainly work for the mand help them to learn quickly. Even if kids are not musically inclined hopefully these things are hooky enough that they stick in people’s heads. Great concept Christine.
The songs were sung by myself and Christine Kasey. I played all guitars. My good mate and keyboardist extraordinaire Ricky Chaplin, played all the drums, bass, and other keyboard parts. Thanks Ricky my friend, for contributing your musicianship and some extra ideas to these songs. Your work helped to turn things into so much more of the sounds I could hear in my head.
This project was completed in January this year. I was really happy with the result. I feel the songs are very catchy. I’m very pleased to say that a number of people involved with using these jingles in the schools this year have heard the tracks, and find them catchy ear worms too. This is great.
I trust the blind children and teachers of 2021 enjoy using the tracks, and have as much fun with them as we had recording them.
Thanks to Christine Kasey, State wide Vision Impairment Services and the Education Department of Queensland for giving me such an interesting project to work on.