Bandleader's Vision For The Blind

steve hartman blind marching band

At the Ohio State School for the Blind in Columbus, Ohio, no one sees obstacles - especially not band director Dan Kelly.

"My philosophy is - if it can't be done, let's do it anyway," he said.

Not long ago, Kelly asked the kids if they'd be willing to take the school's concert band in a whole new direction, CBS News correspondent Steve Hartman reports.

Their reactions varied from "thrilled" to "scared" to "how can blind people do this?"

But nevertheless, the kids agreed, got some uniforms and double-tied their shoes.

"And we became the first blind marching band in the land," one student said.

That's right - a blind marching band, something hard to pull off for several reasons. For one, they can't see the director, though he goes through the motions anyway.

"I can't just stand up in a band and not do that, you know," he said.

But even more importantly, a marching band involves marching.

"I think our first goal was just to see if we could march and stay in a line," one of the students said.

That's the tough part. Any marching band worth its Sousa has to walk a fine line between precision and collision. Do it right, and you make something of yourselves. Do it wrong, and you've got a trombone accident.

Seeing the potential for a demolition derby, Kelly paired each band member with a sighted volunteer - together they spell out Ohio, in Braille. They zig, zag, criss and cross. And on this day they would have had a flawless performance - if not for CBS News' meddling cameraman, who stepped right in front of the saxophonist.

Fortunately, the group's goal isn't to put on a perfect show - Kelly never intended to build a band worthy of the Rose Parade - all he wanted to do was teach these kids that nothing is ever out of the question.

"If you think you have a limitation, chances are you're going to have one," Kelly said.

It's a lesson these students learned for the first time when they took the field and again at an assembly a couple weeks ago when they learned they're going to be in the Rose Parade in 2010.

Hartman hopes to cover their trip - and hopefully with a different cameraman.

  • Steve Hartman
    Steve Hartman

    Steve Hartman has been a CBS News correspondent since 1998, having served as a part-time correspondent for the previous two years.