Braille music awards

First held in 1992, the Gardner's Trust Braille Music Literacy Award is an annual competition designed to encourage young students' use of braille music.

What does the test involve

The tests are administered each year by the RNIB Music Advisory Service and sponsored by the Gardner's Trust for the Blind.

Candidates receive a short piece of braille music and are given a set amount of time in which to prepare. There are two parts to the test:

  • to perform the piece from memory on their chosen instrument.
  • to read the piece out loud, listing all the symbols used in the piece.

Candidates may choose in which order they attempt these tasks. 

Who can enter

The tests are open to young people below the age of 19. Most candidates are entered by their braille music teacher or parent. Candidates may enter each level only once.

Why should I enter

Learning braille music isn't always fun, and having a test may not seem instantly appealing...

You will receive a full report which identifies what you did well as well as areas you might wish to work on. Having a record of your progress in this way can be useful for showing your music teacher, particularly when you change school or college. It is especially useful if you are thinking of taking GCSE and A level music, or working past grade 5 on your instrument. Whether you want to sing in a choir, be a virtuoso tuba player or play in an ocarina quartet, being able to learn from braille will give you greater independence and might even earn you some money one day...

If this is not enough temptation, the winner(s) at each level receive a braille certificate and a financial prize of between £10 and £250.

Preparing for the test

For the full regulations and details of what is required at each of the five levels and advanced level, download the latest guidelines and specimen tests in braille or print (2009).

Once you have decided which level your student will attempt, ensure that he or she is familiar with all the signs which could be included at that level. There are three specimen tests at each level, but you are welcome to create more of your own for practice purposes.

The examiner will be looking for an accurate and fluent performance with a clear sense of pulse, with attention to details such as articulation, dynamics and other musical directions.

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