Jump to content


Photo

Dyslexia and difficulties reading music - particularly sightreading


  • Please log in to reply
76 replies to this topic

#1 Sunrise

Sunrise

    Virtuoso

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 3434 posts
  • Member: 106844
    Joined: 07-June 10
  • Gibraltar

Posted 29 February 2012 - 00:00

I have one student who is very dyslexic that I teach for theory and piano (30 mins each). I added the piano element as he was struggling to learn his notes theoretically, and it has helped somewhat. But he seems to struggle to sightread or sightsing. He can do it very slowly but often goes down instead of up etc. He also has problems reading the notes and often counts up or down with the letters backwards (ie counting up from C will try C B A etc instead of C D E)

I have another pupil who is a very slow reader for his age, at 8 he is still spelling out simple words - like the lyrics in the Alfreds books - and I wonder if he too is dyslexic. Parents haven't said anything but I think he may be. He seems to do the same mistakes.

Just wondering if there is a correlation or if they are just bad sight readers....anyone got any experience? All the other learners I have are quick to pick it up (Alfreds is great for that) and so I feel I need to take a different approach to help (and to give as much support as I can) if it's likely to be a from a underlying issue.

Thanks!
  • 0

#2 anacrusis

anacrusis

    Virtuoso

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 5529 posts
  • Member: 4852
    Joined: 01-October 05
  • Edinburgh, Scotland

Posted 29 February 2012 - 00:25

Dyslexia often shows itself as a difficulty in "holding on" to text long enough to make out what the words say, and is associated with right/left confusion too - thus what you describe, with up and down being muddled, and difficulty working out which note is what, would fit: certainly if the eight year old seems behind on what you might expect it'd at least be worth running past parents as an idea, because there is educational help which can make a difference at least for the reading problems. I have heard of coloured overlays helping too with music reading (apparently one needs to hunt around to find the right colour, but one of the dyslexia websites has its text on a pale yellow background as this is said to be the most likely to work). You're right though to imply that one can't necessarily assume that because dyslexia can show itself in difficulty with sightreading that the opposite is also true - those learning very readily by ear sometimes have difficulty with reading in the absence of dyslexia.
  • 0

#3 Scooby Doo

Scooby Doo

    Prodigy

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1207 posts
  • Member: 267513
    Joined: 07-June 11

Posted 29 February 2012 - 00:28

Dyslexic kids often do have problems with reading music (and also with some other aspects of processing information - they can have issues with aural work, coordination, organisation, the list goes on and on and is very variable)

I'd suggest you get hold of some books on the subject and read up on strategies to help.

Seehere

The ideas you get will help your other pupils too - you don't have to be dyslexic to benefit from them.

I've had one or two who behaved very much like dyslexics in as far as they had the sort of difficulties you describe with music, but were apparently fine with school work, so I think it can be quite music specific in some cases.

You could try photocopying music onto coloured paper as a first step - it helped one of mine quite a lot - reducing the contrast between the printed black score and the background was key. A lot of dyslexics use coloured overlays, and these work just as well for music - it is worth discussing what strategies your student uses with school work and seeing if you can apply these to music.
  • 0

#4 Sunrise

Sunrise

    Virtuoso

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 3434 posts
  • Member: 106844
    Joined: 07-June 10
  • Gibraltar

Posted 29 February 2012 - 07:06

Thanks. The 8 year old is in my son's class and there is a huge difference in their reading, this is what is making me wonder....I have 6 year old pupils that read far more fluently.

The older one is diagnosed dyslexic (got him through grade 2 theory last December biggrin.gif ) and is working towards G3. I'll talk to him next week and see if they have tried overlays or anything else in school

Thanks...will do some research!

QUOTE(anacrusis @ Feb 29 2012, 01:25 AM) View Post

Dyslexia often shows itself as a difficulty in "holding on" to text long enough to make out what the words say, and is associated with right/left confusion too - thus what you describe, with up and down being muddled, and difficulty working out which note is what, would fit: certainly if the eight year old seems behind on what you might expect it'd at least be worth running past parents as an idea, because there is educational help which can make a difference at least for the reading problems. I have heard of coloured overlays helping too with music reading (apparently one needs to hunt around to find the right colour, but one of the dyslexia websites has its text on a pale yellow background as this is said to be the most likely to work). You're right though to imply that one can't necessarily assume that because dyslexia can show itself in difficulty with sightreading that the opposite is also true - those learning very readily by ear sometimes have difficulty with reading in the absence of dyslexia.

The younger one definately doesn't learn easily by ear. Older one yes - he's a singer firstly - and likes to mess around on the keyboard especially with chords. I think the singing obviously will have helped him with playing by ear.
  • 0

#5 Roseau

Roseau

    Virtuoso

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 6823 posts
  • Member: 6007
    Joined: 29-January 06
  • France

Posted 29 February 2012 - 09:33

Both my daughters took some time to learn to sight-read; the elder one is dyslexic and the younger one is not. Their "non-sight-reading" stage was, however, very different. The dyslexic one wanted to read the music but couldn't fathom out how, the younger wasn't interested in the written music because she could play very well by ear and she didn't see the point in "wasting" time trying to read it. When the younger one finally decided that there might be some point in reading music, she seemed to learn to read almost over night without me, or her teacher, doing anything in particular. The elder one is now good at sight-reading but I taught her how to in a very systematic way.

Dyslexia does vary from one child to another so what I am going to say about my eldest is probably not true for everyone but what she finds hardest is naming the note. She plays the cello and can sight-read things in bass or tenor clef in all sorts of positions on the cello (and work out for herself which finger she is going to put down) but she is still hesitant if you ask her to simply read the note names out loud. In other words, I think she doesn't consciously name the note in her head but I don't know exactly what she does since she is capable of playing the same note in a variety of positions and on different strings so she is obviously not associating the dot on the page with a particular finger either.

She uses the French names (do, re, mi, fa ...) and has a lot of trouble saying this backwards. She doesn't confuse left and right but she does confuse up and down and visual gestures don't help her (she says, for example, that when a conductor is beating in 2, she can't tell which beat is which; in 3 or 4, she relies on the arm going out to the side to know where she is).

Coloured overlays do not help all dyslexic children they only help those with a specific syndrome (whose name I have forgotten) and my daughter is not one of them.

Sheila Oglethorpe's book is very good and I highly recommend it.

And finally, I think English schools are better at diagnosing things than French schools but I was convinced my daughter had a problem of some sort long before the school (who just put it down to her being bilingual) so even if there is no official diagnosis, it doesn't mean that the parents aren't aware of it.

Edit: 2childmum posted at the same time as me and I've just remembered that something else my daughter finds extremely hard to cope with is tails which go "the wrong way"; ie when you have quavers beamed together and some of the tails are the "wrong way" up so that they all go either up or down. This confuses her totally (although she is unable to say why). I had an oldfashioned book where the tails always go "the right way" (and so are joined by a diagonal line), I find this harder to read but my daughter loved it.
  • 0

#6 2childmum

2childmum

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 396 posts
  • Member: 12833
    Joined: 06-July 07
  • London

Posted 29 February 2012 - 09:33

My daughter has dyslexia and her main difficulty is slow processing so sight reading can be a problem because the information doesn't go into her brain, get processed, and a response sorted out in time to keep up with the music (I hope that makes sense!) She finds orchestra hard sometimes because she can't keep up with the speed.

The other thing she has struggled with ( and still does sometimes) is if there is too much info on the page (eg lots of bow markings and dynamics) and also if the music is printed too close together. We have in the past covered all the lines of music except the one she is learning, and also I sometimes have to enlarge music which is too dense for her.

Coloured overlays make no difference to my daughter - I think they help something like 40% of people with dyslexia.
  • 0

#7 linda.ff

linda.ff

    Maestro

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 8035 posts
  • Member: 183500
    Joined: 04-January 11
  • Cambridge

Posted 29 February 2012 - 09:41

I think there can be isolated up/down left/right problems without there being any dyslexia. Think of the followin:

1. What we take for granted as being up/down/high/low might not be quite so obvious to some people: faster vibrations aren't further off the ground, so they may not immediately scream "higher" to some listeners

2. Music runs from left to right across the page regardless of whether the pitch is going up or down. I have certainly had at least two pupils who had that trouble at first

3. When we think of the note below F we know it's "obviously" E. If you read a list in alphabetical order, F words (pardon!) will come below E words.

There are probably several more of these (what happens to the sound when a cellist slides his finger DOWN the string? down as in towards the floor, that is) but I think they're all mundane matters which we might take for granted and assume everyone else does

  • 0

#8 jod

jod

    Maestro

  • Banned
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 9899 posts
  • Member: 2939
    Joined: 14-January 05
  • Burwell, Cambridgeshire

Posted 29 February 2012 - 09:50

QUOTE(anacrusis @ Feb 29 2012, 12:25 AM) View Post

Dyslexia often shows itself as a difficulty in "holding on" to text long enough to make out what the words say, and is associated with right/left confusion too - thus what you describe, with up and down being muddled, and difficulty working out which note is what, would fit: certainly if the eight year old seems behind on what you might expect it'd at least be worth running past parents as an idea, because there is educational help which can make a difference at least for the reading problems. I have heard of coloured overlays helping too with music reading (apparently one needs to hunt around to find the right colour, but one of the dyslexia websites has its text on a pale yellow background as this is said to be the most likely to work). You're right though to imply that one can't necessarily assume that because dyslexia can show itself in difficulty with sightreading that the opposite is also true - those learning very readily by ear sometimes have difficulty with reading in the absence of dyslexia.


There will be some dyslexics who will have found ways around their SLD in order to sight read, and others that will be completely unable to.

It is therefore very important to listen to everything they say.

It is extremely frustrating for a dyslexic child or adult, because when they do have a problem eg. Left/Right confusion this is 100% genuine and all of the standard tricks non dyslexics use won't work.

This can lead to disruptive behaviour. Overlays can work, but they have to be the right colour for that individual. Pale green is often the most successful. Type faces using serifs are a disaster.

As anacrusis has said, one of the dyslexia websites uses a pale yellow background. Everything is then printed using Blue ink and in Comic Sans. Devices such as Text Boxes, Bullet Points, anything that orders information and forces the brain rather than over-stimulating it is useful.

However, you have made one huge and vital step already, you have acknowledged the difficulty and are prepared to work with the child to find a solution. That acknowledgement, and the feeling of self-worth this will give to your pupil is worth so much.

You will master this together. Good luck.
  • 0

#9 Roseau

Roseau

    Virtuoso

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 6823 posts
  • Member: 6007
    Joined: 29-January 06
  • France

Posted 29 February 2012 - 09:52

QUOTE(linda.ff @ Feb 29 2012, 10:41 AM) View Post

I think there can be isolated up/down left/right problems without there being any dyslexia. Think of the followin:

1. What we take for granted as being up/down/high/low might not be quite so obvious to some people: faster vibrations aren't further off the ground, so they may not immediately scream "higher" to some listeners

2. Music runs from left to right across the page regardless of whether the pitch is going up or down. I have certainly had at least two pupils who had that trouble at first

3. When we think of the note below F we know it's "obviously" E. If you read a list in alphabetical order, F words (pardon!) will come below E words.

There are probably several more of these (what happens to the sound when a cellist slides his finger DOWN the string? down as in towards the floor, that is) but I think they're all mundane matters which we might take for granted and assume everyone else does

agree.gif
This is going to sound terribly unclear because I am not sure how to explain it. Dyslexic people have up/down left/right problems in a different way to non-dyslexic people, I think because their brain doesn't process information "the same way". My younger daughter had almost all the problems that Linda has listed but was clearly not dyslexic. She verbalised her confusion about left/right, high/low very differently to her elder dyslexic sister.

I also think that until you have had close contact with someone who is dyslexic, it is very hard to understand what the term actually means.
  • 0

#10 BitterSweet

BitterSweet

    Virtuoso

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 2050 posts
  • Member: 37220
    Joined: 13-August 08
  • Edinburgh, Scotland

Posted 29 February 2012 - 14:08

As a trainee teacher, are there particular things which can help with note-reading and learning for dyslexics? Or might help people who have 'sheet music' dyslexia at least?

The suggestion about coloured paper was an excellent one, but wouldn't work for everyone. I know there are different types of dyslexia as my sister has it, but not the 'can't read the words because they 'move around'' thing so paper/colour isn't an issue for her. Her problem is to do with processing the written words into understandable ideas...

Would love to know what other people have found as things to try to help dyslexics?
  • 0

#11 Hedgehog

Hedgehog

    Virtuoso

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 7014 posts
  • Member: 3747
    Joined: 25-May 05
  • Suburbia

Posted 02 March 2012 - 18:16

One pupil of mine was diagnosed dyslexic and she had some short term memory difficulties which were associated with it. I wasn't aware of this until I entered her for an exam and was able to look through the assessment that the school had. Whether this is something that is associated with the dyslexia I am not sure, but we used to do lots of work on naming notes and progress generally was rather slower than average.
  • 0

#12 jod

jod

    Maestro

  • Banned
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 9899 posts
  • Member: 2939
    Joined: 14-January 05
  • Burwell, Cambridgeshire

Posted 02 March 2012 - 20:29

I am dyslexic.

I have what is called higher functioning cross-lateral dyslexia and it is complicated by migraine.

Due to the 'higher functioning' I usually work around it unless put on the spot then it is as clear as mud.

There is also the visual hyper-stimulation that makes some things easier to see than others,

Having said that, my note-reading is generally very good, and I'm a good sight-reader (I think the higher funtioning takes care of that). What it does mean is I see things as other dyslexics see things, or at least can appreciate the visual confusion.

It does not matter I have found a method that appears obvious to me to sort it out. There are always things that some people find easy and other people find hard.

Having had to learn to walk more than once due to Sporadic Hemi-plagic migraine, I don't take basic tasks for granted anymore.

If I can appreciate the visual confusion and just remember that moment when I'd forgotton how to walk, that is how a dyslexic feels when somebody tells them this is obvious and asks them why they can't do such a simple task.

As with every teaching task it is a case of thinking laterally and trying a number of suggested solutions calmly and patiently until 'the penny drops'.

It is also essential to drop all preconceived perceptions over how each person thinks, sees and will behave. Listen and Observe. If you always do what you always did, you always get what what you always got. If something is not working it is important to try a variety of strategies guided by what you are being told and what you see and hear until you hit upon the right one.


  • 0

#13 Sunrise

Sunrise

    Virtuoso

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 3434 posts
  • Member: 106844
    Joined: 07-June 10
  • Gibraltar

Posted 02 March 2012 - 20:42

Well I asked the younger one's Dad today, he has been tested for Dyslexia but doesn't have it. Apparently he just doesn't see the worth in reading.... rolleyes.gif so I shall make a point of reading the lyrics "for rhythm practice" but with an ulterior motive!! laugh.gif
  • 0

#14 jod

jod

    Maestro

  • Banned
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 9899 posts
  • Member: 2939
    Joined: 14-January 05
  • Burwell, Cambridgeshire

Posted 02 March 2012 - 20:48

QUOTE(Sunrise @ Mar 2 2012, 08:42 PM) View Post

Well I asked the younger one's Dad today, he has been tested for Dyslexia but doesn't have it. Apparently he just doesn't see the worth in reading.... rolleyes.gif so I shall make a point of reading the lyrics "for rhythm practice" but with an ulterior motive!! laugh.gif

That's worth knowing. Believe me for all of your sakes it better that way around ( the kid will see the point eventually)
  • 0

#15 Seer_Green

Seer_Green

    Virtuoso

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 3869 posts
  • Member: 114670
    Joined: 18-July 10
  • Lichfield, Staffordshire

Posted 02 March 2012 - 21:22

QUOTE(Sunrise @ Feb 29 2012, 12:00 AM) View Post

I have another pupil who is a very slow reader for his age, at 8 he is still spelling out simple words - like the lyrics in the Alfreds books - and I wonder if he too is dyslexic. Parents haven't said anything but I think he may be. He seems to do the same mistakes.

I know I'm putting the cat amongst the pigeons here ph34r.gif but given the run of recent threads on special needs of various kinds, I do wonder whether so often, we've simply lost the ability to accept that all children are different, learn in different ways and learn at different speeds? Don't get me wrong, of course these special needs exist, I'm not saying they don't.

Maybe I'm just out of touch, but when I get a pupil who struggles with a particular area (sight-reading, note-reading etc.), my immediate reaction isn't "I wonder if they've got dyslexia?" (substitute as required). My immediate thoughts are probably more centred around what can I do, as the teacher, to help them improve in these areas (in other words, I look at myself and my teaching first, not the pupil's inability). In the end, everyone learns in different ways, and inevitably, some will be better at some things than other things - it is this rich diversity which, to me, makes educational communities so exciting.

In my 11 years teaching, I haven't taught any pupils who've knowingly had special needs (or at least, I've not be told if they have). Given recent threads, that seems to me to be highly unusual. In the end, I'm a music teacher - I'm not an educational psychologist and I'm not a medical professional trained to recognise and respond to special needs. Obviously, if I'm made aware that a pupil has special needs, then that's a different kettle of fish entirely, and adjustments can be made to respond to those.

I really do question where you draw the line as a teacher (especially one outside of the school scenario) - I see my job as to respond to the individual needs of each and every of my pupils, whatever those needs might be - to get into a situation of suggesting to parents that because a child is struggling with a particular thing they might have special needs is another ball game entirely, and one in which I'd be extremely cautious (I've seen several threads recently in which some members have been effectively 'diagnosing' special needs in pupils of other teachers!). I know this is probably an unpopular view, but to my mind, it has become far too easy to label these days. This isn't in any way 'getting' at the OP, but merely offering a different, albeit probably unpopular, viewpoint. ph34r.gif
  • 0