Sonja Biggs Educational Services, Inc. -

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Five Conservatory applications, $3,000, and five rejection letters. As a parent, how do we deal with the emotional impact of rejection?
We know our child is talented, smart, and totally able to succeed. After all he has a 4.0 GPA, sings beautifully, has been trained by the best vocal instructors, been in 15 musical productions, performed in several vocal performances, and has achieved more than most children who are sighted. So, wherein lies the difficulty in getting accepted to music conservatories?
Brandon learning modern dance from Whitney.
The competition is stiff, it is true. There have been some bumps along the way. He needs to know braille music; braille music theory; and he needs to develop his ear for pitch. He was denied training in learning braille music on his IEP at Walla Walla High School in Washington State. Now it is negatively affecting his ability to get into the universities of his choice. He was again denied the opportunity to learn braille music (and technology such as Power Point and Excel) which have all negatively affected his education in college at Mountain View High School in California. Here is a bright, extremely talented young man who is being denied an education because of what his high schools failed to teach him, even though they knew he was pursuing a career in vocal performance and acting. This makes my heart break, especially since I am his mother and a Teacher of the Blind and Visually Impaired.
Now, we are having to struggle to find competent people who can teach him the music skills in braille music, braille music theory, and piano that he should already know to be competitive. Children and youth should never be denied an opportunity to learn braille music or music theory in high school...never!
Dealing with the rejection for us means trying to find ways to bridge the gaps in his training. He is frustrated because he doesn't know braille music, doesn't know braille music theory, doesn't know piano (he is at an impasse with his piano teacher because of not knowing braille music and music theory). He is also frustrated because in working toward a music technology degree at Foothill College he is finding that he can't finish it because no one on the staff understands Sonar. They only understand ProTools. They teach ProTools and ProTools is not accessible to him. He has Sonar, but doesn't understand the nuances of using it and there is no one there to teach him like the instructors teach ProTools to the sighted students. What is he to do?
Our only option is to pay for private lessons at $95 per hour through Dancing Dots. Why doesn't the college do this so that the student can have an accessible education? If he studies privately through Dancing Dots, he doesn't receive the college credit he needs for the ProTool classes. Is that fair? If he has to study privately, then he should receive college credit for his endeavors if the college cannot provide an adequate, equal, and fair education for him.
We also have to look for people who know braille music and braille music theory. The only person we know is Grant Horrock. We are having difficulty reaching him at the Southern California Conservatory of Music. We have left messages. Grant did spend valuable time with Brandon at CTEBVI, for which we are extremely grateful. But we really need more time with him. Grant is in Southern California and we are in Northern California. We are willing to do anything for Brandon to get there. We just need to make another connection.
There are challenges on the journey through blindness. Rejection is a part of that. Discouragement and tears are a part of it. But we must never give up. Always we must hold our heads high and look for ways to meet those challenges head on. We don't have our answers, yet. But we are forging ahead and trying to find the best route to take on the next leg of our journey and we will reapply again.
Brandon with Sarah in Les Miserables as a revolutionary at the barracade.

5 Comments to Rejection:

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Sonja Biggs on Saturday, March 26, 2011 4:58 PM
From Annie: I feel your frustration and sadness with this challenge. You are so good at perseverance that it should turn itself around soon, best to you!
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Sonja Biggs on Saturday, March 26, 2011 4:59 PM
From Jennifer: Sonja~ are you a member of MENVI? If not, they may be a good resource for you. My son is so young, but I subcribe to their yahoo e-mails just to read about the visually impaired and musical ability/struggles. Many of the posts I have read sound similar to Brandon's story. Good luck and tell him to keep his chin up.
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Sonja Biggs on Thursday, May 23, 2013 5:07 PM
Jennifer, I am now a member of MENVI. Thank you for sharing about this wonderful resource into the world of blind musicians.

Debbie on Saturday, March 26, 2011 8:00 PM
Dear Sonja, My heart goes out to Brandon. Isaiah has had some education challenges too and sometimes Eryn and Bryan (all of us!)have felt discouraged. They have spent thousands of dollars so their son can have the opportunities that other children have. But, just like you, they have perservered and have had their rewards. Isaiah is getting good grades now and we are all very proud of him. It will never be easy for him but I think there is an even bigger education in dealing with the disappointment! It is all good in the long run. Brandon is building a good character and that will take him very far indeed. You guys are in my thoughts and prayers. Thank you for sharing your struggles - they make me feel connected with you and your family seeing that we are so far apart. Much love to you my sister!
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Sonja Biggs on Saturday, March 26, 2011 8:39 PM
Debbie, thank you so much for your words of encouragement. You are a wonderful sister and I love you, too. Isaiah is an amazing young man with an incredible mom and grandmother.

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