2015 Press Releases

Blind musicians get helping hand

25 Sep 2015
Photo L- r Robert Creed, UCC Music graduate, Dr Eva McMullan-Glossop, School of Music and Theatre, UCC and Linda Doran, Disability Support Service, UCC

The beautiful music of blind harper Turlough O’Carolan might have been lost forever had it not been for Edward Bunting who transcribed the music at the Belfast Harp Festival in 1792.  

The music of O’Carolan is still being played and enjoyed by musicians all over the world thanks to Bunting’s endeavours. 

A new handbook  Hands on: Feel the Music  devised by UCC music lecturer Dr Eva Mc Mullan-Glossop sets out to help this generation of  blind musicians read braille music so that they can further their music education at second and third level.  O’Carolan and the other 18th century harpers came from an oral tradition but music notation is a critical element in the development of the music education of blind and visually impaired musicians today.  Both the aural and written elements are important - the more that visually impaired musicians develop their aural skills the more they can integrate into a social setting which can have huge impact on their musical development as well as their social integration and confidence.

UCC has one of the most progressive Disability Support Services in the country and it also has the largest number of visually impaired students registered at third level in Europe.

Dr McMullan-Glossop recognised the special challenges for blind music students and the handbook contains a collection of interviews, articles and resources to help teachers at second and third level. She highlights the importance of forethought, preparation and planning on the part of both the school and the student before course work begins. She believes that braille is the way forward for blind students. “A Braille music system will allow blind musicians to read and write music more quickly and easily than other systems” states McMullan

Visually impaired UCC music student Robert Creed not only received a first class music degree recently but has written a poem about the experience of being a blind musician.  Inspired by the commemorations taking place in UCC for George Boole’s bicentenary he also composed a piece in his honour and performs it here  accompanied by UCC PhD student and harpist Fiachra Ó Corragáin http://georgeboole.com/news/fullstory-543315-en.html


Now We Are Talking!

You come to me and smile at me, but I do not respond,

For my eyes gaze into a world far beyond,

With my fingers tapping the rhythm of my leaping heart,

On an accordion attached to me.


You come to me, and play my tune,

Our feet beat a steady rhythm,

Our bodies sway in sequence

You play a variation,

I copy,

Now we are talking!


As we play our instruments,

Colour escapes and darts between us,

Like a dazzling fireworks display,

Which isn’t seen by the naked eye,

But exists in the heart of a passionate musician in full flight,

Whose brain impulses could power a city,

Now we are talking!


And as the tune dies down,

And the final note is played,

And the final beat is tapped,

I say,


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