Cheryl said: Oct 3, 2013
Cheryl Ball
Suzuki Association Member
Dublin, OH
10 posts

I have a student with dyslexia any advice for how I might help him find success with the repertoire and then in reading and theory? I appreciate it!

Thanks so much!

[javascript protected email address]

Sera Jane Smolen said: Oct 4, 2013
Sera Jane Smolen
Suzuki Association Member
Ithaca, NY
24 posts

Everyone is a unique learner, with one “blind spot” or another. I find that Art inevitably sends us to find that “blind spot” whether we are considered “normal” or if we are considered to be special learners from the beginning. Many people are considered to be somewhere on one continuum or another as well. So we can approach dyslexia as just one example of how each of is unique. There have been many wonderful dyslexic artists and musicians.
We can consider the auditory learning we do as we listen, then the kinesthetic learning we do in lessons and practice. Learning to imitate, learning to be rhythmic, as well as learning to imagine, and also to express things. Visual learning happens as we observe carefully the posture and hand positions of our teacher as well as our ability to read, later. Before you know it, your student will know many many things, and have a long list of competencies.
For reading you might consider enlarging the music. Even enlarging the beautiful “I can read music” by JoAnn Martin can build confidence in students with special learning needs.
Also Creative Ability Development by Alice Kanack, who worked closely with Dr. Suzuki for many years. Improvising Music with Children allows pre-twinkle students to improvise, exercising the creative part of the brain, on piano before they are “set up” at the instrument. The “Fun Improvisation for Violin (Viola and Cello and Piano)” allows them to be expressive and free, developing important creative abilities in the brain parallel with repertoire. Dyslexic learners can sincerely appreciate it when their teachers remember the particular ways their brains innately work.

When we learn to truly hear the music of children,
we learn to hear the music of the future.
—Michael Deeson Barrow

Rebekah said: Oct 9, 2013
Rebekah Hanson
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Suzuki Early Childhood Education, Viola
9 posts

Hi Cheryl,

While every student is different, my students who have dyslexia seem to do very well when when sing and do movements for the songs. We will often sing the bowings because that seems to be the most challenging aspect.

Another thing that has helped a great deal is creating a story for each song. The more my students can hear and understand the bigger picture, the more easily they have been able to remember the music. I do the same things with all my students. But for those who have dyslexia, I have found this to be much more important. Create stories, think of colors, draw maps and pictures so that they can see how the song works, not in a linear way.

I know some students with dyslexia can learn to read music well. Adding color to the note reading is a huge help for many kids. If they see that all the notes on the A-string are red, they will be able to connect and learn more quickly. “I Can Read Music” is a fantastic start.

I hope this helps! I look forward to hearing what advice others have to share!

Carrie said: Nov 18, 2013
Suzuki Association Member
58 posts

I have a new student with dyslexia and have been looking into coloring the notes for reading. I also read some where that you could color a particular line or two of the staff to help them read easier. That sounds like a lot simpler fix. Coloring every note seems tedious and visually busy. I want to look into this more before I start her reading.


Cathy Hargrave said: Nov 19, 2013
Cathy HargraveTeacher Trainer
Suzuki Association Member
Rowlett, TX
50 posts

Over the years, I have had several dyslexic kids. Here in Dallas is a nationally-known school (Elem-HS) called the Shelton School for kids w/ dyslexia and other things. Quite a few of my students went there. When we got to reading, I learned from that school about the aid of color-coding like Carrie mentioned. One of the moms highlighted the middle lines of each staff w/ pink of every piece in the reading book. That helped some. We also learned that some company makes colored plastic sheets that are the shape of a ruler but transparent and in different colors. There were about 5 colors to a pack since some colors are than others for helping different students. The colors I seem to remember are pink, green, yellow, orange and maybe red. Don’t remember exactly and don’t remember the company. That gave us the idea to get colored sheet protectors, take the book apart, and use those sheet protectors for whatever page the student was on. All these students were learning to read but it was just slower and harder than other kids. But they did it, are now adults, and tell me they are glad they did all the hard work.

Annie said: Nov 20, 2013
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Viola
6 posts

I taught in Denton, Tx and had a severely dyslexic violin student in my high school orchestra with very supportive parents who helped me make it work for her. We enlarged the music and put it on blue copy paper, and I made audio and video recordings of her part. She made it through beautifully and felt great about herself!

Annie Young-Bridges, Private Violin/Viola
and Public School Strings Teacher
Covington, Louisiana

Leslie Brown Katz said: Nov 20, 2013
Leslie Brown Katz
Suzuki Association Member
8 posts

“Reading by the Colors” by Helen Irlen, discusses how a certain segment of the Dyslexic population is helped immediately using color overlays or specifically chosen tinted glasses.

Teachers can experiment with different colors by using tinted overlays from the drugstore. Just put one over the music and see what reaction you get from your students. They will definitely have an opinion from one color to another—as will you!
If they are not very chatty people, just watch their eyes to see if there is more or less tension. We all have something to say one way or another if we care about whether music is printed on white, cream or yellow paper. Also note if there are fluorescent lights, which are painful triggers for many people.

My husband and two of my three children have been relieved of the pain and frustration of trying to track the pulsating graphics, rivers of white etc. by using these specially prescribed tinted glasses. He is a singer and arranger, the kids all studied music. One is a Paralegal (reads all day long!) and the other is a Visual Artist. The tints saved them.

Further information about this type of Dyslexia is available online at irlen.com
The International Headquarters is in Long Beach, CA.

Mark Sandborn said: Sep 13, 2014
 1 posts

My name is Mark Sandborn and I am a researcher, educator, music theorist and technology developer regarding color, music, and language. For the past 18 years I have worked professionally in this domain. A vast part of my research has involved dyslexic individuals and I have demonstrated remarkable new outcomes in music processing and achievement in relationship to my music methodologies and technologies. I accordingly would like to share with a brief overview of my research and technology to provide context for this posting. The following may seem beyond the scope of dyslexia and music education initially, but please keep reading and the relevance will become apparent.
I have specifically been focused on the harmonic science of sound (which involves both the study of music structure and linguistic structure) and the harmonic structure of the photon, the harmonic symmetry of the electromagnetic wave, and the harmonic science of tristimulus color. As I have found through my many years of investigating the topic of color and sound, that virtually all research has been specifically focused on the relationship of color to pitch which is flawed in that it does not provide a color symmetry solution. Most correlations between color and sound were a one to one non scientific mapping of the perceived order of visible spectrum color to the linear frequency ordering of the Chromatic circle of pitch (the first such instance being the color organ of Castel in 1740). Prior to Castel, Newton proposed the 7 color rainbow ROYGBIV correlation. Upon the introduction of the opponency theory of color developed by Ewald Hering in 1892, as well as the tristimulus perception of color, these color schemes were proven invalid. In the last century, individuals such as Scriabin, Hauer, and Malinowski began looking for other means to correlate color to sound. However, none of them could define the harmonic science correlating these modalities which most significantly resulted in skewed color palettes that could not provide any results defining properties of pitch by literal known principles of color theory. Non scientific color schemes have proven to be only marginally useful in music education.
Most scholars from either the fields of music or color are unaware that there exists a wide range of research on this topic within the field of linguistics dating back to the 1960’s. Specifically this area of research was initiated by the acclaimed MIT theoretical physicist Yilmaz regarding the direct correlation between tristimulus color and the tristimulus formant structure of phonemes (vowels and consonants). My own research has not only further validated his research, as well as the work of others, but has evolved the science considerably. The harmonic model which I have established is actually defining every attribute of music structure by color theory in detail and is a 1:1 correspondence at multiple levels of hierarchy. For example, I can define why a particular chord behaves the way it does by it’s color properties. I can show why musical key exists and how scales are defined by their color properties, including demonstrating a previously unidentified scale wave structure. Furthermore, I have taken the pioneering work of Yilmaz and shown direct correlation to pitch and duration which he strongly hypothesized based on the evidence. What I mean is that not only can pitch be correlated directly with color, but duration (rhythm) can be as well. My research is directly following on a substantial amount of other research demonstrating that vowels are correlated with pitch and that consonants are correlated with duration. My model also demonstrates that the duration component of sound defines 12 categories of perception identical to the 12 categories of pitch perception. From these overarching 12 fundamental categories of perception, I have elucidated a hierarchy of both macro and micro harmonic structures, i.e., that I have a harmonic mapping of microtonal pitch and micro duration as it’s counterpart for which concepts such as micro scales, micro chords, and micro keys can be discerned and manipulated intelligibly through color properties. The totality of this science is a fusing of the properties of color, the harmonic structure of music, and the harmonic structure of language. This results in the ability to implement all of these modalities for research, analysis, music reading, music education, and to explore new frontiers within the visual, musical, or linguistic domains, or a combination thereof.
Beyond my theoretical research and writing, I have been intimately involved with how these findings can be implemented into music theory, analysis, composition, and music reading as an educational system. Since 2001, I have developed an entirely new music learning methodology which implements these theoretical concepts. I still employ Western music notation, but the organizational structure of the educational approach is dramatically altered. I have nearly 10 years of experience teaching this system and the results defy all historical expectations and learning curves. I will mention just a few items. Students with no prior musical experience can read any pitch in any key signature immediately and play a corresponding note on a keyboard. They can also play a variety of songs in any key signature, in any octave location of the staff with both hands immediately. They can play every major scale with proper fingering in as little as 20 minutes, but definitely within the first lesson with full retention the following week (this includes a complete knowledge and understanding of the Circle of Fifths (5ths) immediately). Within approximately 18 months on average, students with no prior experience can read and play advanced repertoire such as Beethoven’s Waldstein Piano Sonata. All of these things and more, have been repeated time and time again. Age is virtually irrelevant. Even individuals with learning disabilities such as dyslexia, ADHD, dyscalculia, and autism can learn nearly as fast and in depth as traditional learners. Because of the use of all properties of color as they would exist for the visual artist, including concepts of color mixing and structural organization (i.e, color contrast, afterimage, complementary structure, primary structures, etc…), I am able to discuss concepts of music theory generally relegated to the collegiate level with 10 year olds.
I have recently published a new book titled A Rosetta Stone that is a comprehensive presentation of the aforementioned concepts which I will provide a GoogleBooks link for below. I have also provided a few links listed below to my music methodology materials. As an music educator, I know how difficult reading music notation is for everyone, but especially those who have learning disabilities. My research not only demonstrates that individuals with dyslexia can read and play music, but that these individuals have shown remarkable improvement in cognition in all other areas of their lives.

Virtuoso Music website

YouTube link to the introductory aspects of color within my methodology:

Link to A Rosetta Stone at GoogleBooks:

YouTube link to Coldplay’s Viva La Vida in full Spectrum Color:

YouTube link to Debussy’s Arabesque in full Spectrum Color:

Heather Figi said: Sep 16, 2014
Heather FigiViolin
Eugene, OR
97 posts

Have you researched Brain Gym?

There are several things that I think could support a student like this.

A good place to start is to either find a trainer or go on youtube.


Best wishes,

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