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Musicians share insights with visually impaired students

May 2, 2022

Before their Saturday performance at the Palladium, jazz artist Matthew Whitaker, center, and his band join in a Q&A session with students from Indiana Wesleyan University and the Indiana School for the Blind and Visually Impaired.

FrontRow program hosts Indiana School for the Blind


A group of students from the Indiana School for the Blind and Visually Impaired found inspiration Saturday when rising jazz artist Matthew Whitaker performed at the Palladium.


Whitaker, born blind himself, is a 21-year-old musical prodigy who has been performing professionally since his grade school years. He and his band wowed the crowd with a powerful instrumental blend of jazz, funk, gospel, soul and rock as he performed on piano, synthesizer and Hammond B3 organ, often two at once. At one point, the exuberant musician threw his hands in the air and played a solo on the organ’s bass pedals.


A young man and woman pose for a photo.

Musician Matthew Whitaker poses with Mi’Kaiya, a student from the Indiana School for the Blind and Visually Impaired. The two exchanged numbers and agreed to stay in touch.

Prior to the performance, Whitaker agreed to participate in the Center’s FrontRow program for high school and college students, which provides complimentary concert tickets, dinner and a Q&A session at the artist’s preshow sound check. He and his four bandmates patiently responded from their own experience as the students peppered them with questions about forming bands, composing music and favorite career moments.


While at the Palladium, the students and their chaperones also visited the Great American Songbook Foundation’s Songbook Exhibit Gallery, where the current exhibit, From the Jazz Age to Streaming, compares music trends of the 1920s and 2020s. To accommodate the visually impaired students, the Foundation staff recorded an audio tour of the exhibit and made it available in advance on YouTube.


“Thank you so much for the amazing experience,” said Janelle Pivec, a teacher from the Indiana School for the Blind and Visually Impaired. “The kids’ worlds were opened up in so many ways.” 


Students visit the Songbook Exhibit Gallery

Music Librarian Anna LoPrete welcomes the students and their chaperones to the Great American Songbook Exhibit Gallery at the Palladium.