. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Blind School Receives Gift of Pianos

The Moscow Blind School recently took delivery of four pianos donated by the local charity Action for Russia's Children, in a program aimed at helping the children learn to become piano tuners.

The school teaches 216 children between the ages of 7 and 16 to command skills that will help them find jobs in the future. Because of their heightened sense of hearing, the blind are believed to have a special affinity for piano tuning.

The Moscow Blind School follows a normal state curriculum along with teaching students to read braille, to calculate on "talking computers" and to play the piano.

Soon, the students will also learn to tune pianos.

At a concert last Wednesday, the four recently acquired instruments were put to use in a concert the children played for Teachers' Day, singing compositions written by their music teacher, while the school choir performed English and Russian pop songs and two girls dressed in evening gowns played a piano duet.

"It was incredible because you really forgot that the kids were blind," said Nicola Ramsden, president of ARC.

"They were so good by any standards. The girls' duet was musically so accomplished. It was just at the end that you wondered how did they learn it? How did they study?"

The pianos came from ARC through funds raised last year by the British International School.

Last June the school's students decided to hold a daffodil tea, an event where children and teachers sell cakes and cookies to each other and to parents.

When it was over, they had raised 6 million rubles (about $1,200 at the time).

After the money was raised, Glenys Mitchell, headmistress of the British International School, contacted ARC, a charity for Russian children set up by the International Women's Club. One of the group's volunteers, Fiona Parker, had been a regular visitor at the school for a year.

She asked the school's director, Constantine Kravtsov, what he wanted for the students.

Kravtsov did not hesitate. "Pianos," he said.

Sarah Philps, child welfare coordinator for ARC, said the charity group has been involved with the Blind School for a year.

ARC volunteers visit the children and try to buy them supplies when they can.

"They have a wonderful staff," Philps said. "What they really need is equipment."

According to Philps, later this month, the school is bringing over several piano tuners from the Louis Braille Blind School in Paris. They will teach the tuning courses.