Eimear developed a special interest in the relationship between music and dyslexia while completing her Diploma in Music Teaching and Performance. She has always believed in developing teaching methods that benefit the students' learning needs rather than using a 'one size fits all' approach. Every student deserves the right to achieve their potential. The success of these methods with Eimear's students sparked an interest in how dyslexic students learn, and the many possible positive effects of music.
Possible effects of dyslexia on the music student
Dyslexia is a Specific Learning Difference that can affect the way information is learned and processed. The following list contains possible effects dyslexia may have on the music student. However, some people may not have any of these issues and could react in their own unique way. No two dyslexic students are the same:
- Disorganisation - students may have difficulty remembering lesson or exam times, practising alone, or bringing the right materials to class every week
- Difficulty de-coding visual and aural material - students of music theory (or Junior/Leaving Certificate students) may find it difficult to understand exam questions or to follow instructions. Issues may also arise with sight-reading, aural memory tests, deciphering rhythm, and maintaining a steady beat
- Concentration - short-term memory and concentration in class can often affect the student
- Low self-esteem - the student may experience fear of failure, anxiety, exhaustion, and frustration
- Creativity - dyslexia can also be a strength for music students since it often produces exceptionally creative thinkers. Albert Einstein, Roald Dahl and Walt Disney were all dyslexic learners!
dyslexic learning with eimear
It is important to note that none of the above possibilities should ever be a reason not to pursue music lessons. If your teacher is aware of dyslexia and willing to research it, they should be able to provide methods of learning that work for you! With Eimear, these methods include:
- Multisensory learning - aural (explanations, recordings, discussion, repetition), visual (pictures, diagrams, mind-maps, colour, demonstrations), and kinaesthetic (hands-on, tactile, exploration, using physical objects, using gestures and the body) methods are used
- Technology - Eimear will always have a laptop or iPad available to use online resources. Students are also encouraged to bring a recording device (or use their phone) and a notebook to help with memorisation and to record notes or homework instructions
- Reminders - students may request to receive reminders of class dates and times by text or email
- Class length - if students have difficulty with concentration, class lengths may be chosen to cater for that
- Colours - music (and any other theory notes) can be printed on coloured paper rather than white to aid with visual stress. Coloured flash cards, colour coding class notes, and Hubicki's coloured staff are all possibilities if the student finds them helpful
- Student feedback - the student is often the best source of information on how they like to learn, therefore Eimear will always keep an open dialogue with them throughout their lessons on how her approach may be improved