For a number of years, it was a popular misconception that individuals with vision loss possessed special musical talent. As with all of the arts, however, it is talent and practice, rather than vision (or lack of vision) that are the key factors contributing to musical success.

Use a Large Print Score or Large Print Lyrics

If you have low vision, you can enlarge the musical score to 16-18 point (or larger) font by using a copy machine or a computer with a scanner. If you have a good “ear” for music, you can enlarge just the lyrics.

For more information about large print materials or scores, see about large print and resources for large print books and materials.

Low Vision Devices

Ask to be repositioned in your choir or musical group to take best advantage of available lighting. This may also help to improve your view of the director or conductor.

Talk with your eye doctor about low vision optical devices that might help with reading musical scores, lyrics, or seeing the conductor or director. Helpful low vision devices can include small hand-held magnifiers and/or magnifiers with built-in lights, small hand-held telescopes for spot viewing, spectacle-mounted telescopes, bioptic telescopes, or frame-mounted binoculars. The Lime Lighter from Dancing Dots allows you to view music notation at up to 10 times normal size while scrolling with a pedal leaving your hands free to play.

Learn to Play Music by Ear

Many musicians learn to play music by ear. There are a number of courses designed to teach this method. See Bill Brown’s Music Lessons by Ear website for one example of learning to play instruments by ear.

Also see resources for audio books and materials and audio recorders and players to learn more about portable recording devices.

Use Braille Music

Many musicians and vocalists learn to read braille music. For more information on braille music and braille scores, see about braille, resources for braille and audio books and materials, and braille and other products for making music.