How to Have Sheet Music Transcribed in to Braille

For someone that isn’t familiar with braille transcription, the process of learning how to get something transcribed into braille can be daunting. Here at the National Braille Association, we often get questions from the public about how to get something transcribed. Since we no longer have a transcribing or production facility at NBA, we often respond to inquiries by providing as much information as possible to help someone find a service that will work best for their needs.

We received an inquiry from Christopher B. of Winter Park, Florida wanting to know more about how he could get sheet music transcribed into braille for a high school student. To provide the best answer about music transcription, we enlisted the help of Kathleen Cantrell, who is the Chair of our Music Braille Transcription Committee.

She said:

Great question, Christopher!

It’s important to use someone who is certified for a couple of reasons. Music is a highly specialized field and a full working understanding of the print music along with the Music Braille Code is imperative for accurate transcriptions. The certification process is extensive and prepares the transcriber to interpret the print music accurately and artistically in order to render the graphic nature of the music as best as possible into braille.

Working with a certified music transcriber will give you peace of mind, knowing that your music will be faithfully rendered in braille for you or your braille-reading musician.

There are a couple methods you can use to find a certified music braille transcriber.  To start, you’ll find a list on NBA’s website under the ‘Resources’ tab. Additionally, the National Library Service, who issues the certifications for music braille transcribers, publishes a regularly updated list on their website, which you can find here.

Costs can vary because music itself varies. There is no “industry standard” pricing for braille music transcription. Most transcribers charge per braille page and will adjust the cost of each braille page depending on the complexity of the music. A single-line trumpet part for band might be a more straight-forward transcription than a score for orchestra and might cost less per braille page. Music written in non-traditional notation requires a more thorough understanding of the print music along with creative thinking to render it into braille and therefore will likely cost more per braille page.