Blind to the Facts - An exploration into the needs of blind and visually-impaired musicians (1995, John Ludlow, Inner Visions Music Company)
The music business is an extremely competitive one, and the fact is that blind and visually impaired musicians are at a disadvantage within it. The difference between success and failure, between getting or not getting the gig, recording contract, television slot and so on, can be marginal. The problems associated with being blind, or sometimes merely the perception of what those problems are, often leads to undeserved failure.
Some visually impaired musicians are able to make up for this because of their great talent, public relations skill, powerful friends or sheer luck. But too many others find themselves losing out to sighted musicians of equal or even lesser talent.
It is within this context of disadvantage that the Inner Visions Music Company has been formed. Designed as an umbrella organisation, its aim is to redress the balance by identifying the problems faced by visually impaired musicians and helping to address these problems through mechanisms for support.
The need for such an organisation was initially identified by the renowned blind sitar player, Baluji Shrivastav, who was a key figure in setting up the project. The Report is essentially Inner Visions' first step, providing it with a starting point, with the intent of both illustrating the current state of play, and suggesting possible future policies and programmes of work for the organisation itself. The research programme could not have taken place without the support of The Platinum Trust and the Royal National Institute for the Blind, and grateful thanks goes to both these organisations for their help. We have since discovered that George Michael founded the Platinum Trust and we are very grateful to this amazing musician.
Blind to the Facts - Linda Shanson writes in Arts Professional
Linda Shanson asks why there aren’t any blind musicians at the top of the music industry, especially in the UK
Dotaware - Hands-free braille music device in development
The Baluji Music Foundation and Queen Mary University London are currently developing a hands free braille system with the intent of enabling blind musicians to read braille music and play an instrument at the same time. The system uses pre-established 6 dots of braille and places them on a wearable band.
Through our testing of the prototype we have discovered the device has further potential outside of music and would love to see the device acting as an aid for all blind people. Do get in touch if you would like to try out the device or have any further questions (email at firstname.lastname@example.org or ring us on 07812590021. The first stage of development was funded by Nesta via the Nesta Amplified scheme and was very successful and we are now seeking funding to continue the development of the device.
Heritage Lottery film project capturing oral histories of blind musicians in post-war London
This is a Heritage Lottery Funded Project Capturing the Oral Histories of blind musicians in post war London. It is produced by the Baluji Music Foundation, with interviews by Linda Shanson and Oscar Castellino and filmed by Cecile Embleton. In these five beautifully shot and intimate films we meet Tony Halliday whose life long love of music started at the beginning of the War with the piano and whose father bought a clarinet for 30s, Geoff Long performer, pianist and singer who was signed to EMI with the first blind rock band; Chrissie Cochrane Composer, producer, singer/songwriter, DJ with a wonderful new single out "let me out of here"; Ustad Sital Singh Sitara MBE who has taught Kirtan to hundreds, if not thousands of children and Jackie Clifton MBE organist and founder of Musicians in Focus.
Insights in Sound, by David Baker and Lucy Green, Routledge 2019
Music has long been a way in which visually impaired people could gain financial independence, excel at a highly-valued skill, or simply enjoy musical participation. Existing literature on visual impairment and music includes perspectives from the social history of music, ethnomusicology, child development and areas of music psychology, music therapy, special educational needs, and music education, as well as more popular biographical texts on famous musicians. But there has been relatively little sociological research bringing together the views and experiences of visually impaired musicians themselves across the life course.
Insights in Sound: Visually Impaired Musicians’ Lives and Learning aims to increase knowledge and understanding both within and beyond this multifaceted group. Through an international survey combined with life-history interviews, a vivid picture is drawn of how visually impaired musicians approach and conceive their musical activities, with detailed illustrations of the particular opportunities and challenges faced by a variety of individuals.
Both Baluji and Inner Vision were integral components in the writing of this book.
Institute of Education Conference 10-11 March 2015 - Visually Impaired Musicians Lives
This two-day conference took place on 10–11 March 2015. It was held in the Jeffery Hall at the Institute of Education, University of London.
The conference brought together visually-impaired performers, music teachers (sighted and visually-impaired), researchers concerned with visual impairment and music, representatives from the music industry and organizations in this arena.
It addressed key issues surrounding the musical participation and learning of visually-impaired people, including: music education and lifelong learning; participation choices and approaches to music; the relationship between musical approaches, musical genre and sight; and how technologies are shaping the music-making of visually-impaired people.
These were explored through presentations and performances.
Re.Imagine India (Research and Development in India 2016)
This research trip to India was funded by the British Council and the Arts Council. It was designed to locate musicians, partners and in gathering research information for investigation into visually impaired musicians lives.
We made lasting and valuable connections with the people and the places we visited and were amazed at the abundance of musical talent we discovered.
The research carried out led to the development of Antardrishti-Inner Vision, which in addition to the UK based Inner Vision Orchestra, also featured four blind musicians who travelled from India to perform.
The Inner Vision Orchestra National Tour Report, Dr. Christian C. Clerk, 2014
This report was commissioned by Baluji Shrivastav for the Arts Council of England. It was written on the basis of participant observation, survey responses and informal interviews, and focuses upon the experience of stakeholders in different aspects of the first Inner Vision Orchestra tour – to consider how their interests were met and how these might be further promoted in future activities. It reflects on the significance for the future planning of the Inner Vision Orchestra and, more generally, on the requirements of blind and partially-sighted performers taking part in such a tour, and the practicalities involved in its organisation.
Author Dr. Christian C. Clerk
The Musician - VIP Musicians. Report by Katie Nicholls (MU, 2012)
From Ray Charles to Andrea Bocelli, blind or partially-sighted artists can succeed. But are the UK’s stages welcoming to the visually impaired? Musicians Union 2012 - Fourteen blind and visually impaired musicians under the moniker Inner Visions Orchestra recently toured London to great success. Led by blind sitar player Baluji Shrivastav, the musicians dovetailed influences from India, Iran, Afghanistan and Nigeria to perform a set of soulful, uplifting compositions. At the end of each night a questionnaire was sent around the audience asking how many blind or visually impaired British performers they could name…