Some small measure of progress

One of my students has been having difficulty learning to read music. I blogged about it in January – you can read the post here. Last month I contacted the parents and mentioned that there has been virtually no progress in almost 2 years, and that I simply wasn’t equipped to deal with what might be dyslexia. Their response was that the boy loves playing, he has a good ear, what we have done has been so good for his self-esteem, and that they don’t expect that I’m “qualified” to deal with learning issues. So, he’ll be back next year.

Yesterday, I think things started to click. After months of colour-coding all the notes, exploring a wide range of sounds that can be made on the piano, and transposing familiar tunes all over the keyboard – with and without pedals – yesterday he was able to read a few pieces in middle C position with no help from the pencil crayons.

I’m celebrating this small measure of progress :)

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About LaDona's Music Studio

Musician, pianist, teacher, blogger.
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7 Responses to Some small measure of progress

  1. Beth says:

    I’m so glad to hear of your success! I, too, have struggled to teach a child with what is probably dyslexia. She did learn to read notes with some degree of success and two years after 6 long years, she successfully sat for her Grade 1 piano exam (Honours!). We used lots of colours: circling similar patterns (stepping & jumping patterns); blue rectangles for matching notes in treble & bass. Our favourite was drawing an ominous shark fin above LH soh’ soh doh bass notes in cadences — the dominant sharks circling their tonic prey! She knew that pattern so well!
    She no longer takes piano (she began voice lessons with another teacher) & I know she still has difficulties with note-reading & solfege, but loves it. I heard her pull out one of her exam pieces last week and though she struggled through it, she “performed” it for her family & friends.
    I’m so happy that the parents of your student recognize your effort & care and have chosen to continue having you positively influence their son. Blessings to you, LaDona!

  2. Thank you for reading and for the encouragement, Beth. It probably still is a long struggle ahead, but these tiny bits of progress should keep me going.
    My husband (a high-school math teacher) keeps saying it’s good for him to teach the courses for those who have minimal aptitude for math. It keeps him grounded in reality. Likewise here – the population does not comprise only bright, musical students. We can still give them beauty, fun, and hopefully assistance in their learning endeavors.

  3. Jo says:

    There is a book that (I think) is called “The Gift of Dyslexia” which you might find appropriate. My cousin taught her son using the ideas — one thing I remember is much use of clay to shape alphabet letters. 3-D meant more to him than 2D. Anyway, I’m sure that could be easily transferred to notes and music reading!
    (He now has a degree in Theology and won many academic awards in high school)

  4. Natalie says:

    I too have a student that has struggled with what I have thought is dislexia or some other form of visual learning challenge. After 5 years of struggling there have been many times I just don’t know what else to try to help it click. In that past 6 months she has made tremendous progress with a few pieces that have left me literally shouting for joy in her lessons. I celebrate each and every little success with her, even if it is no longer a success the next week. It builds her confidence and helps her far more than criticism of the failures. I am constantly on the lookout for ideas of how to approach things differently for her. Please keep us updated on what works and what doesn’t for your student and I would love to do the same!

  5. Pingback: You win some. You lose some. | LaDona's Music Studio

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