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Gardner's Trust Braille Music Literacy Awards

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

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

There are five levels for you to attempt.

What do the tests involve

A summary list of the elements involved is given below (not all of these elements appear in every level):

  • Reading aloud from a short passage of braille music
  • Tapping the rhythm of a piece of music with reference to the score
  • Singing/Playing at sight, with reference to the score
  • Singing/playing from memory
  • Answering questions on a short passage of Braille music
  • Writing in braille music a passage dictated by the examiner
  • Spotting differences between a passage in braille music and an audio recording played by the examiner

For the full regulations and details of what is required at each of the five levels, refer to GTLA Regulations, Requirements and Specimen Tests in braille or print in the application pack.

Who can enter

The tests are open to candidates of any age.

Reasons to enter

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, or just as a personal record of your achievements as you work through the levels. 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.

In addition, the winner(s) at each level receives a braille certificate and a financial prize of between £10 and £50.

Preparing for the test

Once you have decided which level you will attempt, ensure that you are familiar with all the signs which could be included at that level. There are

specimen tests for each level, but you are welcome to create more of your own for practice purposes. Try practicing with the set amount of time for the timed tests. Record your performances for the Singing/Playing at Sight and Singing/Playing from Memory tests so that you can compare what you play with the music. In these elements 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.

How to apply

To apply, download the application pack, complete the enclosed application form and return it to RNIB.

Entries are invited for the 2023-24 period, which will run from September 2023 to January 2024. Candidates can apply at any time during this period

Tests can take place at a location of your choosing and a date that suits you, according to availability of examiners.

Additional resources

A summary of the signs used in these tests is provided in the Dictionary of Braille music signs for GTLA: Revised Edition 2022 in braille or print in the application pack.

Embossed braille copies of the Dictionary of Signs and Requirements for each level can also be ordered from RNIB.

Further questions

If you have further questions, or would like to discuss the awards in more detail, please do contact us by email to [email protected] or by telephone on 0303 123 9999