Music Research and People w/ Visual Impairments

Photo of a student reading braille music notation appears
Braille Music Notation

Having spent the last 10 years teaching guitar to children with visual impairments I can say that it has brought me nothing but joy.

I can also say the music research regarding this low-incidence disability is scarce. 

The research for this population is scattered among the fields neurology, music education, inclusion, music therapy, visual impairments, and articles regarding children with multiple impairments.

The following bibliography is my attempt to help professionals that are promoting the music development of children with visual impairments and, those using music as a complementary learning modality.

I have read all of these articles more than once. They are what I consider to be the bedrock research regarding my master’s project at The University of Texas at Austin and my 10-year career as a guitar teacher/teacher of students with visual impairments and music therapist.

If you are reading this, I hope this bibliography is helpful to you. Click the links to find the articles…


Abramo, J., & Pierce, A. (2013). An ethnographic case study of music learning at a school for the blind. Bulletin of the Council for Research in Music Education, 195, 9 –24. 

Corn, A. L., & Bailey, G. L. (1991). Profile of music programs at residential schools for blind and visually impaired. Journal of Visual Impairment and Blindness, 85(9) 379-382.

Boyer, A. S. (1997). Identification of characters with shared representations: Decoding musical and literary braille. Journal of Visual Impairment and Blindness,91(1), 77-87.

Codding, P. A. (2000). Music therapy literature and clinical applications for blind and severely visually impaired persons: 1940 – 2000. In American Music Therapy Association (Ed.), Effectiveness of music therapy procedures: Documentation of research and clinical practice (3rd ed.; pp. 159 – 198). Silver Spring, MD: American Music Therapy Association.

Collignon, O., Vandewalle, G., Voss, P., Albony, G., Charbonneau, G., & Lassonde, M. (2011). Functional specialization for auditory-spatial processing in the occipital cortex of congenitally blind humans. Proceedings of the national academy of sciences of the United States of America, 108(11), 4435-4440.

Darrow, A. A., & Novak, J. (2007). The effect of vision and hearing loss on listeners’ perception of referential meaning in music. Journal of Music Therapy 44 (1), 57-73.

Duke, R. A., & Byo, J. L. (2011). The habits of musicianship: A radical approach to beginning band. Retrieved from https:// cml.music.utexas.edu/online-resources/ habits-of-musicianship/introduction.

Elbert, T., Sterr, A., Rockstroh, B., Pantev, C., Muller, M., & Taub, E. (2002). Expansion of the tonotopic area in the auditory cortex of the blind. Journal of Neuroscience. 22 (22), 9941-9944.

Gfeller, K., Darrow, A. A., & Hedden, S. (1990). Perceived effectiveness of mainstreaming in Iowa and Kansas school. Journal of Research in Music Education, 38(2), 31-37.

Gilbert, J. P. (1983). A comparison of the motor music skills of nonhandicapped and learning disabled students. Journal of Research in Music Education, 31(2), 147-155.

Goldreich, D., & Kanics, I. (2003). Tactile acuity is enhanced in blindness. Journal of  Neuroscience, 23 (8), 3439-3445.

Heller, G. N., & Livingston, C. (1994). Lowell Mason (1792–1872) and music for students with disabilities. Bulletin of Historical Research in Music Education, 16(1) 1–16.

Jellison, J. A. (2015). Including everyone: Creating music classrooms where all children learn. New York: Oxford University Press.

Kern, P., & Wolery, M. (2001). Participation of a preschooler with visual impairments on the playground: Effects of musical adaptations and staff development. Journal of Music Therapy, 38(2), 149-164.

Korenman, L., & Peynircioglu, Z. (2007). Individual differences in learning and remembering music: Auditory versus visual presentation. Journal of Research in Music Education, 55(1), 48-64.

Kujala, T., Palva, M., Salonen, O., Alku, P., Huotilainen, M., Naatanen, R., et al. (2005). The role of humans’ visual cortex in auditory change detection. Neuroscience Letters, 379 (2), 127-131.

Lahav, A., Saltzman, E., & Schlaug, G. (2007). Action representation of sound: Audiomotor recognition network while listening to newly acquired actions. Journal of Neuroscience, 27(2) 308-314.

Maccesic-Petrovic, D., & Svetlana, S. (2005). Perception of rhythm in visually impaired children. International Congress Series, 1282, 640-644.

Madsen, C. K., & Darrow, A. A. (1989). The relationship between music aptitude and sound conceptualization of the visually impaired. Journal of Music Therapy, 26(2), 71-78.

Moss, F. W., Jr. (2009). Quality of experience in mainstreaming and full inclusion of blind and visually impaired high school instrumental music students. (Doctoral dissertation, University of Michigan). ProQuest Dissertations and Theses, Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/304928945?accountid=7118.

Park, H. (2015). How useful is braille music? A critical review. International Journal of Disability, Development & Education, 62(3), 303–318.

Ricciardi, E., Bonino, D., Sani, L., Vecchi, T., Guazzelli, M., Haxby, J., et al. (2009). Do we really need vision? How blind people “see” the actions of others. Journal of Neuroscience, 29(31), 9719-9724.

Taesch, R. (n.d.). The Literacy movement– What does braille music have to do with it? Retrieved September 01, 2020, from http://www.blindmusicstudent.org/Articles/taesch literacy.htm.

Wong, M. S., Gnanakumaran, V., & Goldreich, D. (2011). Tactile spatial acuity enhancement in blindness: Evidence for experience-dependent mechanisms. Journal of Neuroscience, 31(19), 7028-7037.