This month I am talking with caregivers in NYC.  I am writing music based on some of the incredible stories of selflessness, compassion and love that they have shared with me.  I pulled up some statistics about disabilities and the number of people who require daily assistance from others because of their disability.  I found it really fascinating. These numbers are a little outdated, but still really eye-opening. If you are in NYC this week, this show is Wed. the 20th at the Douglass Street Music Collective in Brooklyn.

As always, thanks for reading – 




Disabilities in America

Info is from from

51.2 million
Number of people who have some level of disability. They represent 18 percent of the population.

32.5 million
Number of people with a severe disability. They represent 12 percent of the population.

Percentage of children ages 6 to 14 who have a disability. This amounts to 4 million children.

Percentage of people 80 and older with disabilities, the highest of any age group.

Percentage of females with a disability, higher than the 17 percent of males. On the other hand, among children under 15, boys were more likely than girls to have a disability (11 percent versus 6 percent).


Using or Needing Assistance

10.7 million
Number of people age 6 and older who need personal assistance with one or more activities of daily living (such as taking a bath or shower) or instrumental activities of daily living (such as using the telephone). This group amounts to 4 percent of people in this age category.

2.7 million
Number of people age 15 and older who use a wheelchair. Another 9.1 million use an ambulatory aid such as a cane, crutches or walker.


Specific Disabilities

1.8 million
Number of people age 15 and older who report being unable to see.

1 million
Number of people age 15 and older who report being unable to hear.

2.6 million
Number of people age 15 and older who have some difficulty having their speech understood by others. Of this number, 610,000 were unable to have their speech understood at all.

14.3 million
Number of people with limitations in cognitive functioning or a mental or emotional illness that interferes with their daily activities. This includes those with Alzheimer’s disease, depression and mental retardation. This group comprises 6 percent of the population.


On the Job

11.8 million
Number of 16- to 64-year-olds who reported the presence of a medical condition that makes it difficult to find a job or remain employed. They comprise 6 percent of the population.

Percentage of people ages 21 to 64 having some type of disability and also employed in the last year. The rate ranged from 82 percent of those with a nonsevere disability to 43 percent with a severe disability. For those without a disability, the rate is 88 percent.

Percentage of people with a nonsevere disability who work full time, year-round. This compares to 53 percent without a disability and 13 percent with a severe disability.


Perceived Health Status

Percentage of people ages 25 to 64 who have a nonsevere disability and report their health as being “very good” or “excellent.” This compares with 13 percent of those with a severe disability and 73 percent of those without a disability.


Income and Poverty

Median earnings for people with a nonsevere disability. This compares to $25,000 for those with no disability and $12,800 for those with a severe disability.

Percentage of people with a nonsevere disability and household incomes of $80,000 or more. By comparison, 26 percent of people without a disability had household incomes of $80,000 or more with the same being true of 9 percent of those with a severe one.

The poverty rate for people ages 25 to 64 with a nonsevere disability. This compares to 26 percent for those with a severe disability and 8 percent of those without a disability.


Living Arrangements

Percentage of people ages 25 to 64 with a nonsevere disability who live in married-couple families. The corresponding rates are 68 percent for those without disabilities and 50 percent for people with severe disabilities.

Percentage of people with a nonsevere disability who live alone or with nonrelatives. This compares with 28 percent of those with a severe disability and 19 percent without a disability.



The percentage of people ages 25 to 64 who had a nonsevere disability and were college graduates. This compares with 43 percent with no disability and 22 percent with a severe disability.


Plugged In

36% and 29%
Percentages of people ages 15 to 64 with a severe disability who use a computer and the Internet at home, respectively. The respective figures for those without a disability are 61 percent and 51 percent.


Serving Our Nation

2.6 million
Number of veterans who received compensation for service-related disabilities as of 2004. Of these vets, 506,000 served in World War II; 237,000 in Korea; 1 million in Vietnam; and 540,000 in the Persian Gulf (the data cover service from August 2, 1990, to September 30, 2004).



Reposted: Sight Reading by the Pound


This is from a blog I contributed to in 2008. Still true for  me and my practice habits…

      I’ve come to believe that the best way to learn how to read music is to learn by the pound….

      I recently went on ebay and found someone selling 30 pounds of sheet music. I got it and 2 days ago a huge box full of random old sheet music came. Now I’m busy reading  “Music for the Concertina”, various etude books, random 1920’s popular songs, and a bunch of other treasures. Guitarists always have trouble reading, so I wanted to pass along some things I’ve realized about sight-reading in the past few years that have helped me a lot. I hope you find them helpful too.


      It’s always assumed that guitarist can’t read music. For the most part, it’s true – we suck at it. At least I always did, and a lot of players I know have always been weak readers. When I think about it, guitar might be the hardest instrument to read on. It’s the only instrument (that I can think of) that you can play the same note in 5 or 6 different places. Unlike piano or single note instruments, where a “c” is always the same “c”, guitarists have a bunch of options – which makes everything confusing when you are reading a difficult line or a chord. And it’s also difficult to coordinate your right hand picking technique with your left hand position while finding the right note/rhythm, etc.


     Anyway, after being a terrible reader for years, I finally got serious about it a few years ago and started practicing it a lot.  One obvious thing I realized about my problem was that I would get down about my reading abilities and spend three or four hours practicing it to get better.  And then weeks would go by and I wouldn’t practice it at all. When I would return to reading, It was as if those four hours never happened.  Practicing your reading on a regular and consistent basis is imperative to improving. Even if it‘s only 10 minutes a day, it’s better than several hours at a time once a month. It’s a very gradual process. Also, I realized that most of the time I would try to read music up to the tempo at which it was intended to be played.  So, if something was too fast, I wouldn’t be able to get through it, I’d get frustrated and eventually go on to work on something else.  Now I take things really slow if I have to, even if I have to put the metronome on 40 bpm and think of that as the 16TH note. Whatever I have to do to understand the rhythms and get through it.  There’s nothing wrong with practicing things really, really, really slowly if you have to.


       One last thing I realized was that whenever I would work on my sight-reading, I would always take a piece of music and play through it again and again until it sounded right.  I didn’t realize it, but I would be practicing a piece of music instead of practicing my actual sight-reading skills. As soon as you read something once, you remember some of it when you read it again, and the amount of material that you’re actually reading decreases.  Now I take books of music and read through them, front to back, and never stop to fix my mistakes. It’s always new material, and I’m forced to really read what’s in front of me without any idea of what it should sound like.  When I started doing this, my reading abilities improved quickly.  I’m not trying to play the material at a high performance level; I’m just trying to improve my reading.


      I’ve always been into old junk. I often go to flea markets, yard sales, etc.  I started buying old sheet music and etude books from these places – whatever was around: clarinet books, violin studies, accordion music, etude books, and old Broadway music, whatever. I take it home, open it up, read it once, and then put it in my bookshelf.  I have tons of reading material now, or at least 100 pounds or so, ha-ha.  It has become part of my routine: I get up in the morning, get a cup of coffee, sit down and read these old random books for an hour or so.  But I only read it one time and then I move on.  This has been the best way for me to get better at reading, and it way to warm up too.  Anyway, I hope these ideas on reading help.  Now I’ve got to get cracking on my 30 pounds.


take care,