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Would love to hear some techniques used with dyslexic students (Read 1139 times)

Offline love_that_tune

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Would love to hear some techniques used with dyslexic students
« on: October 12, 2016, 05:34:39 PM »
I have been teaching three sisters for two years.  Suddenly the middle child has become very upset if she cannot duplicate something I just showed her.  I have been going excruciatingly slowly with her.  I have a personal rule that I make sure a student can play something before I ask her to practice it.  Duh.

I finally asked her this week if she would like to just start over.  She smiled and played Hot Cross Buns, etc.

I have to say this is a first and I've been teaching a looooooong time.

This is a lovely family.  The parents specifically wanted their children to have music in their lives because neither of them had before.  However this means they struggle with how to be supportive.

Am I crazy to keep going with her?  Would love to hear from teachers who have a student who flips out about the way things are going.

Offline keypeg

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Re: Would love to hear some techniques used with dyslexic students
«Reply #1 on: October 19, 2016, 11:37:51 PM »
I read the title and then read the story.  How does this relate to dyslexia?

Offline love_that_tune

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Re: Would love to hear some techniques used with dyslexic students
«Reply #2 on: October 20, 2016, 12:03:37 AM »
It is reading music that seems to upset her.  Also the sound of an interval such as a third doesn't register for her. She is staring without blinking, fixated on looking at the sheet of music.  Since I wrote this topic, I have "started over" and printed out some beginner pieces on colored paper instead of white.  I printed out a grand staff with large notes and had her say and play them all the way up the piano.  She was perfectly happy to do that.  Her mother told me she is "like this about everything".  She gets upset if she can't do something instantly.

Is it dyslexia?  I don't know.  I'm not big on naming things.  This week she was relaxed.  I confess I'm perplexed. 

I told her mother that it is perfectly normal for piano not to be for everyone.  I stressed that this child should not feel like a failure.

I suspect this isn't going to last.  Her older and younger sister are doing great.  Could be a middle child thing.  At some point I don't really want to be a music therapist, just teach piano or not without damaging an innocent child's psyche.

Offline outin

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Re: Would love to hear some techniques used with dyslexic students
«Reply #3 on: October 20, 2016, 03:54:55 AM »
Dyslexia was a bad choice of word indeed. I'd say she has a different personality and learns differently than her siblings and most kids. She may have some type of learning difficulty. She can surely learn with time, but to do that she either needs to be resilient and creative and learn what works for her and she needs a teacher who can work with her understanding and finding out her special needs. If either part lacks motivation to solve these problems it probably is not going to work.

Offline love_that_tune

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Re: Would love to hear some techniques used with dyslexic students
«Reply #4 on: October 20, 2016, 12:41:56 PM »
I happen to know a great deal about dyslexia.  As I stated, I'm wary of labeling.  And I have done every single thing you have said is needed.

Maybe you've had a student that was a challenge to work with.  That would be more helpful to hear about.








Offline outin

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Re: Would love to hear some techniques used with dyslexic students
«Reply #5 on: October 20, 2016, 05:48:44 PM »
I happen to know a great deal about dyslexia.  As I stated, I'm wary of labeling.  And I have done every single thing you have said is needed.

Maybe you've had a student that was a challenge to work with.  That would be more helpful to hear about.


I'm not a piano teacher but rather a student who is a challenge to work with and I also have some knowledge about learning disabilities from my work experience.

Having trouble with reading notation is not necessarily caused by dyslexia, that is what I meant, it could be something else. My own experience is with dyscalculia and reading even easy notation can be exteremely tireing for me. So I accept that I won't be performing with music and my teacher accepts that too. I've learned to understand even complicated notation because I need to do it to learn the pieces and sometimes I may even sight read for my own interest at home, but trying to read more than a short section on a lesson is a waste of time. There are also other things that my teacher does not insist I do, but it took some time for us to realize when it's better not to.

I have been with my teacher for 5 years and while we get along fine, she must have had a hard time understanding my strange issues and behavior and why some things don't work out in a "normal" way. She says I'm stubborn, but that's not a negative stament really. I have the will to remove obstacles and life experience to help me do it, but I just cannot learn the way an average person does. But I do learn when I find the right methods. Does you student have the will to learn to play? If so you could concentrate on what works with her and avoid putting too much pressure on her when things are not working out. If you expect her to go through with exactly the similar steps and methods as others, it may never work out if she is some way cognitively challenged.

With my teacher we know we need to move on when we reach a dead end on something at a lesson because I need to work it out alone at home in peace and quiet. Next week in a lesson I usually can do what we were aiming at. If your student gets irritated or moody when trying to do what you ask, it might not be something she can control if she has cognitive issues. Too much pressure can make my brain fry when forced tasks that are too much for me. Doesn't have to be something difficult per se, but something that tires my brain fast such as playing from a score. I try not to release the pressure by behaving badly with my poor teacher, but I sometimes just need to sit quietly for a moment to cool down and then we get to something else. It can seem like I am very upset, but I am often just recollecting my scrambled brain and thoughts.

Offline love_that_tune

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Re: Would love to hear some techniques used with dyslexic students
«Reply #6 on: October 20, 2016, 06:02:24 PM »
This is extremely helpful.  What you describe is exactly what I have experienced with her.  This week she surprised me by sight-reading something with two hands (simple Ode to Joy).  She then gave me a big smile when she was done.

After the lesson I asked her in front of this lovely close-knit family, "What did you think of today's lesson?  She gave me thumbs up and smiled.  I thanked her for working with me to figure out what works for her.

Your words confirm what I was observing.  Somebody told me once that I teach way more than just music.  I really care about the experience of the mind, and the rewards are intensely personal for every student.

Offline outin

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Re: Would love to hear some techniques used with dyslexic students
«Reply #7 on: October 20, 2016, 06:55:21 PM »
This is extremely helpful.  What you describe is exactly what I have experienced with her.  This week she surprised me by sight-reading something with two hands (simple Ode to Joy).  She then gave me a big smile when she was done.

After the lesson I asked her in front of this lovely close-knit family, "What did you think of today's lesson?  She gave me thumbs up and smiled.  I thanked her for working with me to figure out what works for her.

Your words confirm what I was observing.  Somebody told me once that I teach way more than just music.  I really care about the experience of the mind, and the rewards are intensely personal for every student.

Sounds good. Students with cognitive disabilities can still be intelligent and if they get the drive to learn and get the right kind of support, they can overcome most of their problems.

You may also notice her having good days and bad days. If she has some challenges with her other work as well, she may have already drained her concentration level before the lesson. I am always happy to go to my lessons, but often I just know it will be difficult because work has drained my mental energy to do the things that are difficult. A child won't necessarily even realize it, it took a while for me too to know the signs. It's a special kind of tiredness since it is only related to those certain tasks that require abnormal effort.

Offline keypeg

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Re: Would love to hear some techniques used with dyslexic students
«Reply #8 on: October 20, 2016, 09:57:33 PM »
I asked about dyslexia because that would be a specific thing to address.  Dyslexia literally means an inability to read, and often it is caused by problems such as not being able to sequence (first, second, third, fourth - going along a row of buttons in order to button your shirt) or recognizing a shape when it is turned around (p q b d).  When there are such specific problems - visual for example - then you use strategies to counter it.  But that doesn't seem to be the case here, to so moving on. :)

It's interesting not only that she wanted to go back to the beginning and play the early pieces, but also that you had the instinct to ask the right question.

Offline bernadette60614

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Re: Would love to hear some techniques used with dyslexic students
«Reply #9 on: October 27, 2016, 04:38:12 PM »
Our son would rather eat a plate of liver and onions with a side of kale than read notes.

So, he composes his own songs on the piano, and his teacher will show him how to write down the score of the songs.

He is older than your student, but she may freak out at "reading", she may freak out less at playing her own sounds and then learning how to write them down so she can show them to her parents and her siblings.