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Trumpeter Dan Geminder '72 Extends Music's Reach as a Braillist

Trumpeter Dan Geminder '72 Extends Music's Reach as a Braillist

January 28, 2007

Dan Geminder.jpgJanuary 28, 2007, Greencastle, Ind. - "It's such extraordinarily picky work, it could drive an average person over the edge into maniacal, Mozart-style laughter," begins a story in today's Winnipeg Free Press. "Only six Canadians are fully qualified to do it. But Winnipeg's Dan Geminder, the lone male among the country's six certified music braillists, craves more of it."

Geminder is a 1972 graduate of the DePauw University School of Music who is "keen to devote more than his current 15 to 30 hours a week to translating notes, rests, crescendo marks, key signatures and all the other nuances of printed music into patterns of braille dots on his computer screen," writes Alison Mayes. Geminder's full-time job is playing trumpet as a member of the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, which he has done for 33 years. His work on the side as a "braille-coding virtuoso... is vital to some 1,000 visually impaired Canadian music students, teachers, and members of choirs, bands and orchestras."

Mayes reports, "Of course, blind instrumentalists can't read the braille dots while playing -- Geminder has heard of only one dexterous trombone player who could -- so they generally pre-read and memorize their scores."East College 2005 3.jpg

"It's very slow," the 56-year-old Geminder tells the newspaper, which points out that "it takes at least one hour, he says, to key in and proofread one page of music braille. That typically represents only four to seven measures of music -- a mere sliver of a whole piece."

The article notes, "Born in Grand Rapids, Mich. and educated at Indiana's DePauw University, Geminder dropped out of grad studies in 1973 to join the WSO. He harboured 'the usual young-player dream' that he would one day move on to a prestigious larger orchestra. 'But the roots dig deeper and deeper into the community,' he says. 'I consider myself more Canadian than American.' About 15 years of volunteer and paid work recording audio material at CNIB Winnipeg led Geminder into braille training in 2001."

Read the complete story, "From brass to braille," at the newspaper's Web site.