Dyslexic Student?

Emillie said: Jan 14, 2015
Emillie BlairViolin, Viola
8 posts

I am getting a new student in a couple weeks that is 10 years old and dyslexic. I teach her older sister right now. I have no idea what any challenges might be when teaching her but if there is anyone out there that can offer any advice that would be great. I don’t really know what to expect.

Thank you,

Alissa said: Jan 15, 2015
Alissa Rieb
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Suzuki in the Schools, Viola
61 posts

What accommodations does she have at school? Sometimes there are adaptations, for instance a blue tinted clear sheet that goes over the paper or pointing to each letter as she reads and other things that transition pretty straightforwardly over to music. Dyslexia comes in different forms/severity so the school insights will be very valuable. Make zero assumptions! I’ve had students with no dyslexia mix up letters constantly and moderate dyslexic students have little to no music reading issues.

If she’s a beginner, you’ll be spending most of the time working with her ear. You can start with flashcards so she knows every symbol or term that might show up on the page before reading. This greatly reduces the symptoms of dyslexia in my experience. If she’s already reading, then have her read a line to you before she plays it, both letters and rhythm. This shows how she’s seeing it. Any place there are direct written instructions via the title or tempo/dynamic words take care that she knows how to pronounce them and what they mean. If she’s saying words mixed up in her head, the instructor using the same term will just go right over her head.

A final thought, watch what is going on in any performing groups outside of private lessons. She’ll have different support/expectations there. Check in on that music and outside assignments for trouble spots to avoid frustrations cropping up seemingly “out of nowhere”.

The fact that you know ahead of time is the greatest gift in this situation. I’m sure you’ll use the family’s open communication about her needs to an advantage :-)

Carla Sciaky said: Jan 15, 2015
Carla Sciaky
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Suzuki Early Childhood Education
Denver, CO
3 posts

I have had two students who were identified as dyslexic. Both taught themselves to read music without my even guiding it! With each of them, I found out by accident and was surprised. The thing about any kind of learning disability is that it tends to ripple out to some areas you wouldn’t expect. One of the above students, age 11, has a little trouble following verbal instructions and also in answering my questions.

If I were you, I would go into it with no expectations and just see what strengths and weaknesses come up as she progresses, just like you would any other student! Enjoy the journey!

Andrea said: Jan 16, 2015
Andrea YunTeacher Trainer
Suzuki Association Member
14 posts

There were dime great discussions a few months ago, maybe a year ago, on this forum. If you can search, it would be a resource. Good luck!

Heather Figi said: Jan 16, 2015
Heather FigiViolin
Eugene, OR
97 posts


A woman recently wrote a paper about this and shared it on one of the Suzuki Teaching Facebook Pages. I searched for this but regrettably was unable to locate it. Still, I though I would share this suggestion and perhaps another member has seen it or knows of her paper/post.

The 2 FB Suzuki Teaching boards that I know of are:




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