Award-winning musician shares braille music abroad
Aimee Roundtree | February 15, 2023
Five-time Grammy© winner, Academy Award© winner, and Associate Professor of Practice in the Texas State University School of Music Hank Hehmsoth is supporting a Braille Music fund to send music to libraries throughout South America. The project extends his work as a Senior Fulbright Specialist. Hehmsoth teaches composition and jazz piano at Texas State.
"As a Fulbright alumnus, I create and develop projects that target and benefit other cultures as a demonstration of American goodwill," said Hehmsoth. "One such project I'm working on is the Braille music project, which will distribute Braille music notation across all of South America and expand access for musicians with visual impairments."
Braille music is a code that allows music to be notated using braille for visually impaired musicians. Supporting braille music libraries and resources advances reading and performing music for those without sight.
"Some of the most exciting current work in development is using computer engraving software like Sibelius, Finale, and MuseScore to export MusicXML files which are music braille-conversion-friendly," said Hehmsoth.
Sharing the power of music is Hehmsoth's expertise. He has played over 10,000 international, national, state, and regional performances across genres ranging from classical and jazz to pop, rock, broadway, and film scores.
Hehmsoth's passion for music began early. "My earliest memories are playing piano at the age of three. I was so small I could stand on the piano pedals, and my nose was only at the edge of the white keys."
Hehmsoth is currently serving as a Fulbright Specialist Peer Reviewer for the U.S. Department of State, which he has done since 2017. He also serves as a Key Participant in the U.S. Department of State Alumni Engagement Innovation Fund (AEIF), which provides alumni of U.S. government-sponsored and facilitated exchange programs funding to expand on skills gained during their exchange experience.
"I joined a U.S. government-sponsored exchange program to distribute the Braille Music Notation Guides (both printed and in Braille) among Latin American universities and libraries," says Hehmsoth. "The guides, music examples, exercises, and a double CD with recorded examples will expand the access to inclusive education for all musicians with visual impairments." The project fulfills the AEIF purpose of promoting innovative solutions to global challenges facing communities.
The "Music Braille Code" project hosted by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs has helped expand access to inclusive education for musicians with visual impairments in Latin American universities, conservatories, and public high schools.