Blind World Magazine

Lifting the status of blind musicians.

June 15, 2005.
New Straits Times (Malaysia).

KUALA LUMPUR, June 15: The Blind People's Music Society (BPMS) works to raise the status of blind musicians in the country.

Formed in 1996, the society's aim is to enhance the musical talent of all blind musicians and see them play, as equals, with their sighted brethren.

With a working committee of 20 blind and sighted people, the society aims to benefit the blind community of Malaysia.

"We are still very far off the mark," admits BPMS co-founder Gunabalan Govindasamy.

"Blind people still do not get the opportunity to play in society the same way that sighted musicians do."

The society had planned a 72-hour musical and entertainment event at the end of last year to raise awareness and funds for the promotion of music among the blind, but cancelled it after the Dec 26 earthquake and tsunami tragedy.

Gunabalan said they would go ahead with the concert but were now consolidating their resources.

"We finance our own activities but we hardly raise public funds," he said.

Gunabalan, who owns a printing business in Pudu, was a student of the St Nicholas School of the Blind in Penang.

He felt there was a need for dedicated instructors to teach music to the blind.

"We had volunteers teaching us music at the school, so there was less dedication to teach us all the way through," he said.

Gunabalan said Simon Woon, an alumnus of the school and one of the country's best blind drummers, was able to learn only up to Grade 3 but through sheer perseverance, taught himself to the level of a professional drummer.

This is one reason why the society plans to set up a foundation to support music education among the blind.

The society also plans to introduce percussion instruments to blind students in kindergarten and primary school to inculcate an interest in music among them.

For more information on the society and its activities, call 03-22722677 or 013-3409912.

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