Last night, we had the opportunity to enjoy a wonderful concert at the Library of Congress, celebrating 50 years of service for the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS) music section! We joined NIDRR SBIR grantee Bill McCann from Dancing Dots to listen to Justin Kauflin, a very talented jazz pianist from right here in the DC area.
Justin Kauflin grew up in Silver Spring, MD. He began studying violin and piano at 4 and, by age 6, was performing in concerts, at weddings and nursing homes, and eventually becoming concertmaster for several orchestras. He studied music at the Governor’s School for Performing Arts and William Paterson University. He has played jazz professionally since he was 15, including international tours with Quincy Jones and his mentor Clark Terry and the Clark Terry Ensemble. He has been a client of the Library Service since losing his vision at age 11 and is also a client of Dancing Dots, using their Braille music software (developed with funding from NIDRR’s SBIR program) to learn and compose new music.
The concert featured original compositions, Beatles covers, and jazz standards, all played solo on a gorgeous Steinway piano in the LOC’s Coolidge Auditorium. He showed he is well on his way to Jazz Master status – playing with subtlety, depth, and passion. Justin’s guide dog Candy sat nearby, enjoying the music and standing up to applaud with the audience.
Justin was introduced by Karen Keninger, director of the NLS, who highlighted the special music collection. The collection was established in 1962 and represents the largest collection Braille music, large-print scores, and recorded instructional material about music and musicians. The service is available to individuals with disabilities free of charge, either through postage-free mail or via download.