Originally established in 1988, the organization came into being through the work of Ron Pitmen and Keivin Wallace with the Edmonton Dinner Optimist Club. With the Club’s funding, a communications group for persons with disabilities was started, promoting confidence in public speaking and making new friends in a fun and social atmosphere. Robert Collings and Wyn McAra were also instrumental to the creation and continuity of the organization.
In 1996, through collaboration with Bill Owen and Ron Sales, the organization added a choir under the direction of Scott Leithead, sharing much of its membership with the public speaking group. As the choir grew and improved, so did its helpers, expanding from a professional conductor and accompanist to include section leaders from youth and adult choirs in the community, working together with our choristers to sing increasingly complicated and enriching music.
Also around this time, the Braille Tone Music Society partnered with local music instructors and schools to provide private music lessons to adults and children with disabilities. Students and teachers continue to be matched based on their instrument, age and level of experience, and students showcase their talents at two recitals per year.
We are pleased to announce the creation of the Semiitones Children’s Choir, which aims to be an integrated and inclusive children’s and youth choir.
For more information on the history of the Braille Tones, please check out the Braille Tones College Club blog run by our own Geoff Connor, one of the original members of the choir, and a guitar student! He regularly updates with our latest activities.