Visually impaired

Specially comissioned recordings for the visually impaired

A Keyboard at your Fingertips

Free!

This is a FREE online version of a course which Penny wrote and presented at RNIB hotels from 1995 until the stock market crash caused the closure of those venues. Countless players with partial or total loss of sight learned to play on those courses, and it is our hope that countless others will enjoy learning to play from this resource.

Over the last few years, Penny has put aside her fees from CD sales and talks to the Women's Institute, Probus Clubs and other groups in order to fund the recording of the material and the professional development  of this website to enable the material to be shared. We hope you really enjoy it!

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Just back from a pleasant afternoon playing for a local club where many members have (or know a family member who has) a visual impairment. I was telling them about the free on-line music lessons we now offer for those who want to learn to play keyboard, especially designed for those who are losing or have lost their sight. One of the audience suggested I produce some posters about it, and she would take them to the local blind clubs, doctors surgeries, libraries and so on. What a great idea!

These lessons grew out of a series of courses Tony and I ran with the RNIB, when we were teaching people who had just lost their sight to take up the wonderful new hobby of keyboard playing. When the RNIB were financially forced to close their hotels, the courses had to end. We decided to turn the idea into a series...

A Keyboard at Your Fingertips Programme 1

A Keyboard at Your Fingertips Programme 1 cover
Free!

This first programme is somewhere between a brochure and a user's manual. You can either listen to this part first, or dip back into it as you need, to find out more about your keyboard. 

Before you learn to play a keyboard, you need to choose a keyboard. If you have a visual impairment, this can be a tricky process. In this programme, Penny and Tony tell you all you need to know about shopping for the right keyboard, and what all the buttons will do on your chosen instrument. They make clear the meaning of the technical terms such as touch response and sustain. They discuss accessories, clubs, festivals, holidays, websites and social opportunities for keyboard players. Also available on this website are Programmes 2, 3, 4 and 5 which teach you in an enjoyable and relaxed manner how to play well-known pieces by ear and by touch, using both hands and all the facilities on your keyboard. A door way to a lot of fun!

Record label: 

PenTone Music

Recording date: 

2004
Duration Right-click to download (free) Listen
1 Contents of this programme 1:40 Audio icon Contents of this programme
2 Choosing a keyboard 4:03 Audio icon Choosing a keyboard
3 Essential features 3:45 Audio icon Essential features
4 The controls 2:53 Audio icon The controls
5 Accessories 2:08 Audio icon Accessories
6 An orchestra at your fingertips! 5:00 Audio icon An orchestra at your fingertips!
7 Turning on, and changing sounds 5:53 Audio icon Turning on, and changing sounds
8 Auto accompaniment 4:00 Audio icon Auto accompaniment
9 The rhythm unit 8:54 Audio icon The rhythm unit
10 Touch response 1:16 Audio icon Touch response
11 Dual voice 1:14 Audio icon Dual voice
12 Harmony 1:41 Audio icon Harmony
13 Sustain 0:43 Audio icon Sustain
14 Reverb and echo 1:14 Audio icon Reverb and echo
15 The other buttons 3:16 Audio icon The other buttons
16 One touch setting 2:59 Audio icon One touch setting
17 Registration memory 2:39 Audio icon Registration memory
18 Data storage and recording 1:28 Audio icon Data storage and recording
19 The social scene 1:53 Audio icon The social scene

A Keyboard at Your Fingertips Programme 2

A Keyboard at Your Fingertips Programme 2 cover
Free!

This is the programme where you put your hands on the keys and start to play well-known tunes. Penny and Tony talk you through each individual step - hand position, fingering, finding the starting note, setting up the sound, how to pick out tunes by ear - and remember them, adding chords, the lot. By the end of this programme you will have covered Dvorak's Largo (the 'Hovis' tune), Jingle Bells, The White Rose of Athens, Ode to Joy and Now the Day is Over. The beauty of the format is that you can repeat each section as many times as you like, just like having a friendly teacher by your side whenever you want them.

Record label: 

PenTone Music

Recording date: 

2004
Duration Right-click to download (free) Listen
1 Contents of this programme 1:37 Audio icon Contents of this programme
2 Getting started 4:26 Audio icon Getting started
3 Finding Middle C 3:10 Audio icon Finding Middle C
4 Fingers on keys 4:26 Audio icon Fingers on keys
5 Listen and copy: Dvorak's Largo 5:34 Audio icon Listen and copy: Dvorak's Largo
6 Getting the right sound 3:01 Audio icon Getting the right sound
7 Playing by ear 7:02 Audio icon Playing by ear
8 Playing by 'shape': Jingle Bells 5:42 Audio icon Playing by 'shape': Jingle Bells
9 Using left hand 4:36 Audio icon Using left hand
10 Adding chords 5:08 Audio icon Adding chords
11 Putting hands together 4:21 Audio icon Putting hands together
12 Largo with both hands 4:39 Audio icon Largo with both hands
13 Practising Largo 2:21 Audio icon Practising Largo
14 Practising Jingle Bells 3:04 Audio icon Practising Jingle Bells
15 Practising White Rose of Athens 2:47 Audio icon Practising White Rose of Athens
16 Practising Ode to Joy 1:57 Audio icon Practising Ode to Joy
17 Practising Now the Day is Over 3:15 Audio icon Practising Now the Day is Over

A Keyboard at Your Fingertips Programme 3

A Keyboard at Your Fingertips Part 3 cover
Free!

After Penny and Tony take you through a brief review of the skills you have already learned, this programme takes you deeper into the pleasures of playing by ear. You will increase your repertoire  of chords, rhythms and right hand notes. The pieces you will learn include The Banks of the Ohio, Lavender's Blue, a new section for Dvorak's Largo, The Drunken Sailor, When the Saints Go Marching In and Snowbird. You are offered the choice to swap from single-fingered to 3-fingered chords. Once again, the emphasis is on enjoying your instrument, and having two ever-present teachers on hand to guide you gently as you progress.

Record label: 

PenTone Music

Recording date: 

2004
Duration Right-click to download (free) Listen
1 Index of tracks 1:54 Audio icon Index of tracks
2 Looking back 2:17 Audio icon Looking back
3 More playing by ear 4:24 Audio icon More playing by ear
4 Banks of the Ohio, right hand 5:04 Audio icon Banks of the Ohio, right hand
5 Banks of the Ohio, left hand + F chord 2:18 Audio icon Banks of the Ohio, left hand + F chord
6 Have you got rhythm? 8:05 Audio icon Have you got rhythm?
7 Counting to keep time 2:05 Audio icon Counting to keep time
8 Lavender's Blue, right hand + A 5:24 Audio icon Lavenders Blue, right hand + A
9 Lavender's Blue, left hand 4:07 Audio icon Lavender's Blue, left hand
10 New notes B and C - C scale 4:08 Audio icon New notes B and C
11 The middle of Largo 4:36 Audio icon The middle of Largo
12 Chords with 3 notes 4:53 Audio icon Chords with 3 notes
13 New chord of D minor 2:19 Audio icon New chord of D minor
14 The Drunken Sailor, right hand 8:02 Audio icon The Drunken Sailor, right hand
15 The Drunken Sailor, left hand 1:07 Audio icon The Drunken Sailor, left hand
16 Practise track: The Banks of the Ohio 1:31 Audio icon Practise track: The Banks of the Ohio
17 Practise track: Lavender's Blue 0:50 Audio icon Practise track: Lavender's Blue
18 Practise track: Largo (complete) 2:26 Audio icon Practise track: Largo (complete)
19 Practise track: The Drunken Sailor 1:16 Audio icon Practise track: The Drunken Sailor
20 Practise track: The Saints 1:04 Audio icon Practise track: The Saints
21 Practise track: Snowbird 1:59 Audio icon Practise track: Snowbird

A Keyboard at Your Fingertips Programme 4

A Keyboard at Your Fingertips Part 4 cover
Free!

Penny and Tony review the content of the previous programmes, before taking you to exciting new keys with sharps and flats, and further honing your ability to play by ear, touch and memory. New pieces include Happy Birthday to You (always a handy piece to have in your repertoire), Muss ich denn (otherwise known as Wooden Heart), The Can Can, Catch a Falling Star and In the Mood.

Record label: 

PenTone Music

Recording date: 

2004
Duration Right-click to download (free) Listen
1 Index of tracks 1:30 Audio icon Index of tracks
2 Looking back 1:27 Audio icon Looking back
3 G scale. Scales & Keys. Landmarks 4:30 Audio icon G scale. Scales & Keys. Landmarks
4 Happy Birthday to You, right hand 8:50 Audio icon Happy Birthday to You, right hand
5 The lost chord. Happy Birthday to You, left hand 4:59 Audio icon The lost chord. Happy Birthday to You, left hand
6 F scale 3:10 Audio icon F scale
7 Muss ich denn, right hand 8:29 Audio icon Muss ich denn, right hand
8 Muss ich denn, left hand 3:54 Audio icon Muss ich denn, left hand
9 The Can Can, right hand 5:25 Audio icon The Can Can, right hand
10 The Can Can, left hand 1:14 Audio icon The Can Can, left hand
11 Staccato, legato and slurs 4:03 Audio icon Staccato, legato and slurs
12 Accidentals. Catch a Falling Star, right hand 10:36 Audio icon Accidentals. Catch a Falling Star, right hand
13 Catch a Falling Star, left hand 2:09 Audio icon Catch a Falling Star, left hand
14 Practise track: Happy Birthday 1:17 Audio icon Practise track: Happy Birthday
15 Practise track: Muss ich denn (Wooden Heart) 2:17 Audio icon Practise track: Muss ich denn (Wooden Heart)
16 Practise track: The Can Can 1:20 Audio icon Practise track: The Can Can
17 Practise track: Catch a Falling Star 1:57 Audio icon Practise track: Catch a Falling Star
18 Bonus practise track: In the Mood 6:25 Audio icon Bonus practise track: In the Mood

A Keyboard at Your Fingertips Programme 5

A Keyboard at Your Fingertips Part 5 cover
Free!

After reviewing the contents of the previous programme, Penny and Tony complete your basic training as a keyboard player. They show you how to work out new chords for yourself and move them into more playable positions. They also share some arranging skills and explain how to cope when a piece changes key. New repertoire includes And I Love You So, The Rivers of Babylon, The Skye Boat Song and Elgar's Pomp & Circumstance March.

Record label: 

PenTone Music

Recording date: 

2004
Duration Right-click to download (free) Listen
1 Track index 1:54 Audio icon 01 Track index
2 Looking back 0:28 Audio icon 02 Looking back
3 How to find new chords 5:28 Audio icon 03 How to find new chords
4 In seventh heaven 2:41 Audio icon 04 In seventh heaven
5 And I Love You So, right hand 6:14 Audio icon 05 And I Love You So, right hand
6 And I Love You So, left hand 3:24 Audio icon 06 And I Love You So, left hand
7 Turning chords on their heads 5:12 Audio icon 07 Turning chords on their heads
8 Fingering & Rivers of Babylon, right hand 10:32 Audio icon 08 Fingering & Rivers of Babylon, right hand
9 Rivers of Babylon, left hand 2:07 Audio icon 09 Rivers of Babylon, left hand
10 Primary and secondary chords 4:03 Audio icon 10 Primary and secondary chords
11 Skye Boat Song, both hands 4:30 Audio icon Skye Boat Song, both hands
12 Arranging tips 4:42 Audio icon 12 Arranging tips
13 Tunes that change key 3;23 Audio icon 13 Tunes that change key
14 Pomp & Circumstance, right hand 4:57 Audio icon 14 Pomp & Circumstance, right hand
15 Pomp & Circumstance, left hand 2:25 Audio icon 15 Pomp & Circumstance, left hand
16 And I Love You So, practise track 2:20 Audio icon 16 And I Love You So, practise track
17 River of Babylon, practise track 1:26 Audio icon 17 River of Babylon, practise track
18 Skye Boat Song, practise track 1:56 Audio icon Skye Boat Song, practise track
19 Pomp & Circumstance, practise track 1:32 Audio icon 19 Pomp & Circumstance, practise track
20 Keeping in Touch 0:27 Audio icon 20 Keeping in Touch
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