Reader’s Forum – Week of April 23, 2012

For your convenience, all Reader’s Forum submissions are separated by the ## symbol.

In response to Contributor Erin Jepsen – One of the Gang, Christine wrote:

I was brought up as an only child, with other problems in that my mum was seriously ill for part of my early childhood and eventually I spent time with elderly grandparents in my school holidays after she passed away. I was also sent away to boarding school for the partially sighted at age five. So yes, almost certainly I did not reach my full potential as my relatives were too ‘soft’ during my holidays. All I did was ‘light’ housework and helped with cooking. No one introduced me to things like a gas cooker until I was 15.

My husband, on the other hand, grew up in a family of four children, he the only one with a visual impairment. His dad trained as a ‘special needs teacher’ – and Mike was expected to do all the chores his siblings did during the holidays. He was allowed not to if he went home for just a weekend 3 times a year – and his siblings objected vociferously, as two of them were almost his age you can imagine they found it hard to stomach. Mike still talks proudly of his helping his mum with the cake making at age 3, and being the only sibling with strong enough wrists to beat sponge cakes which even his mum couldn’t do. And today I have a husband registered blind, who cooks as well as a chef (a career he decided not to pursue on account of long hours and poor pay, though he’d not have got a sniff of a job I have no doubt in 1960s England). He handles the same woodworking tools as a sighted DIY person, and although he dislikes DIY, believing he’s not as good, he certainly did a great deal in our first house and no one would have known it was by someone who couldn’t see.

To this day, I am far less likely to pull my weight if I think I can get away with something, and there are many tasks I simply do not know how to do but which many young visually impaired people will have learned at school along with their peers I’m quite sure. A sort of spoiled child mentality. Thank goodness most children – even in the UK – now live at home, attend the local schools, if they have minor impairments certainly get no ‘mollycoddling’, and even when children have very severe impairments, their special needs schools now expect them to gain the everyday skills their more able peers will gain from parental and teaching adults in specially designed ‘houses’ within their school campus.

It may not lead them into getting a lifelong job (neither of our countries seem to have licked that hurdle), but an awful lot more people can run their own home, do their own housework, cook, and be totally independent or be able to look after themselves with the help of a paid caregiver.

I have many visually impaired friends who are parents: some are totally blind, married to totally blind people, and our children are now grown up with children of their own and leading lives as well as any child brought up by parents with no impairments.

Our generation has a lot to be proud of.

Chris (Reading, UK)
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In response to Feature Writer Lynne Tatum – The Kindness of Strangers, Denise wrote:

Two days ago my friend and I went into the city to eat at Burger King. We took the subway in to 34th Street and got off the train looking for an exit. Both of us had guide dogs so we walked around a little trying to find the way out and then a gentleman came along and showed us the exit. He wanted to know where we were going so I asked him to point us toward 7th Ave. He asked again where we were going so I told him to Burger King and he insisted on walking us there. I said I didn’t want to take him out of his way but he said he was just catching a train to NJ and that there’d be another one. The exit we came out of caused us to have to walk four blocks up and one Avenue block over to get to the restaurant. After we got there, we ordered our food while he waited. Then he took us to a table and waited until our order was ready and brought it to us. He even went back when my friend didn’t get the French fries he had ordered and got them. He was reluctant to leave us even then but we told him we travel all the time so he told us to enjoy our meal and then left. Although I felt a bit uncomfortable and paranoid with that whole situation like a typical New Yorker wondering what his ulterior motive might be, we had a nice conversation while we walked and I felt it was really a nice thing for him to have done for us. You don’t find many people like that in NYC.
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In response to Feature Writer Lynne Tatum – The Kindness of Strangers, Mary wrote:

I would feel very uncomfortable and insulted if somebody tried to give me cash for providing them directions or advice. Would these people offer money to a sighted person? Probably not.

This is the 21st century; we’re not begging on the street; many of us are employed or otherwise successful. I would definitely refuse the cash, politely but firmly.
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In response to Contributor M. L. Liu – Harsh Criticism for Blind Pianist, Debra wrote:

I am responding to the article about the blind pianist. My name is Debra Saylor, and I am a totally blind pianist. I competed three times in the Van Cliburn Piano Competition for Outstanding Amateurs. Although this competition is for so-called amateurs, the level of competition is very high. The people who compete often have advanced degrees in piano performance, but they do not make their living as concert pianists, although they could. In 2000 when I competed, I was awarded third prize, and won the award for the most outstanding performance of a piece in the Romantic period for my performance of Debussy’s Clair de Lune. Clair de Lune means moonlight, and I was told many times that I was able to create the image of moonlight through my interpretation of the piece.

Also, I heard Mr. Tsujii, the subject of the original article in this magazine, perform here in Huntsville, at a concert of all three of the Van Cliburn professional competition winners. He was fantastic, and also, my piano teacher, who is a concert pianist himself, said that Mr. Tsujii was an exceptionally wonderful pianist. I think the critics just want to use their power to express a bias that they have had all their lives.

Debra Saylor, Huntsville Alabama
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In response to Contributor M. L. Liu – Harsh Criticism for Blind Pianist, Edward wrote:

My favorite blind piano player is Derek of England. I call him the “human jukebox” because of his ability to play hundreds of musical pieces if not more.

Derek Paravicini was born prematurely 32 years ago, and doctors did not think he would survive.
He is blind and severely autistic, but has a unique talent that has stunned the music world – he can play any piece of music after hearing it only once.
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Rosetta wrote in to say:

Greetings Ziegler Readers,

I wish to telecommute in the Customer Service arena. The rehabilitation establishment has told me it is my responsibility to research the world, locating companies to hire me. I am informed by this establishment that they are not aware of companies hiring a blind person who does this. Have any of you ever faced such a dilemma? Do any of you telecommute using JAWS in Customer Service? Perhaps you know of someone who does, or are you aware of companies that will hire telecommuters using JAWS in the Customer Service arena.

How is it that the blind are subjected to such ill informed rehabilitation counselors, who attempt to get us to perform their jobs for them? Please respond with your comments, information, and opinions.

Sincerely,
Rosetta Brown
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Ann Bliss wrote in to say:

Creativity is in all of us although we might not recognize it as such. It may take the form of writing, sculpting, speaking, cooking, a business or anything else. Often there are blocks to our creativity and I have found a sure way to work through them.
The secret to unblocking is through journaling. This is not right brain journaling but merely stream of consciousness writing. Try it: for ten minutes every morning, just write either in long hand or on your computer. Anything that comes into your mind is valid. It might be happy or sad or garbled or misspelled. You might have to write “I don’t know what to write” for ten minutes. It will open the channels for you. The emotions and blocks will pour out and before long, the creativity will emerge.

Did you know that our creativity is channeled from the Divine? De Vinci, Mozart and many, many others just created from the flow of energy sent through them by Spirit. How cool is that? Hopefully, you will be eager to see what flows through you. No matter what it is, it will be great and perfect for you!
Now remember, ten minutes every morning. No need to ever read your journal or show it to anyone unless you choose to. If you would like more information on this, you might read any of the books written by Julia Cameron. “The Artists Way” is recorded on cassette from NLS and is also available from Bookshare. There are workshops all over the country usually held at holistic centers if you would like to participate in one.

The Readers Forum eagerly awaits your results.

Ann can be contacted at annbliss1@gmail.com

2 Comments

  1. Thank you, Debra Saylor of Huntsville Alabama, for your response to my article “Harsh Criticism for Blind Pianist”.

    Congratulations on your accomplishment in the Van Cliburn Piano Competition for Outstanding Amateurs. It takes uncommon talent and skill for you, like Mr. Nobuyuki Tsujii, to competes with sighted pianists on equal footing. A big bravo to you!

    Critics are paid to express their opinions, so we cannot fault them for opining. It is up to us to read these reviews with appropriate skepticism and open-mindedness.

    Thanks for your comments and I hope you will continue to support the music of Mr. Tsujii.

  2. Thank you, Edward, for your response to my article “Harsh Criticism for Blind Pianist”.

    Edward wrote: “My favorite blind piano player is Derek of England… Derek Paravicini … is blind and severely autistic, but has a unique talent that has stunned the music world – he can play any piece of music after hearing it only once.”

    I too have great admiration for Mr. Parvicini. And he is often mentioned to me whenever I bring up Mr. Tsujii in conversations.

    While the talent of Mr. Paravicini is unquestionably astounding, Mr. Tsujii’s achievement is, in my opinion, different. Mr. Tsujii does not replicate a piano work by ears, but learns each piece note by note, from listening to annotated recordings of the notes played on each hand separately. He assembles these notes in his head, and performs each work with his own interpretation.

    Mr. Tsujii also performs highly complex piano concertos such as Rachmaninov’s No 2 and Tchaikovsky’s No 1, with professional orchestras. In fact, next month (May 2012) he will perform one of the most difficult concertos, Prokofiev’s No 3, with the renowned pianist/conductor Vladimir Ashkenazy and the Philharmonia Orchestra, in the Royal Festival Hall of London.

    In addition, Mr. Tsujii is a composer whose original lyrical pieces are quite popular in Asia, and he has successfully composed music for a TV show and for a movie.

    Mr. Paravicini and Mr. Tsujii are both inspirations for everyone. I — a sighted person — am humbled by their unimginable accomplishments.