NEWARK – Before, 13-year-old Josh Shady had to tote around binders full of large-print music.
If a song fit on one page for his classmates, Josh, who is visually impaired, would need about eight. He’d scramble to turn pages midsong, falling behind the music and his bandmates.
Now, Josh can scroll through the music with no pages at all, using a foot pedal, a touch-screen computer and specialized software called Lime Lighter for visually impaired musicians.
Josh plays timpani for the Liberty Middle School band. He and his director, Diana Wightman, are still learning how to use the Lime Lighter program, but once they work out all the kinks, it will completely change Josh’s music experience, Wightman said.
The program is on loan to Newark City Schools until Dec. 18, and then Josh’s family plans to buy it for him to use permanently.
Wightman’s goal is for Josh to use the program at least once during the band’s holiday show.
“I’ll be really thrilled and tickled if he can do one song on this at Christmas,” she said. “What he’s learned to do already with it is incredible.”
Josh was born premature with low vision and cerebral palsy, a muscle-weakening disease. He has trouble seeing, but he also has trouble tracking with his eyes, which makes tasks such as reading — books or music — exhausting, said his mom, Pam McKenzie.
The Lime Lighter is nice because Josh just has to look at one spot, and the large-print music scrolls into place for him, she said.
“I think it really gives him the opportunity to do what the other kids are doing more easily,” McKenzie said. “To be able to play music with ease, just like everyone else.”
Ultimately, even though it’s hard work, the Lime Lighter makes music more fun for Josh, so he is more willing to put in the practice time, McKenzie said.
“He’s motivated to do that,” she said. “He’s motivated to stand and push his muscles, even though they’re tired.”…
source: Newark Advocate