Dyslexia Knowledge and in Music

Dyslexia Knowledge and in Music

I attended the American String Teacher Association National Convention March 6th-9th.   One of the many sessions I attended was on Dyslexia.  It was a general knowledge about dyslexia and then went into details about how it affects music teaching.  Dyslexia has been a new topic that the state of Missouri has been trying to spread knowledge to teachers.   We have had a few PD session on Dyslexia but I have really felt that it has only been “This is what it is not.”   Which has been good to learn but I wanted more.

Dr. Elizabeth Morrow was our speaker and she has studied Dyslexia for a good amount.   She talked about how it is  a neurological pathway disorder.   Students with Dyslexia have issues making connections, and keeping those connections.  These can be easy connections that majority of students can make.  For example, the memorization of how the vowel “a” is pronounced.  A student with Dyslexia can learn this, but maybe not all of them in one setting.   They can learn one way in a day, but the next it may be forgotten, because the neurons are not connecting.   She gave several examples of things that can be hard.  Dr. Morrow also stated Dyslexia cases can each be different.   Many skills are hard for students with Dyslexia to learn.

Dr. Morrow was also a music teacher so she gave some examples of why reading notes is hard, and what make sit easier.   A lot of the skills can be applied everywhere.  She called this a Multisensory Structured Music Program:


  1. Skills need to be taught one item at a time.
  2. A new skill cannot be learned until the first one is mastered
  3. Skills are learned sequentially.
  4. Constant procedure

What does this mean in music.  When students learn how to read music, starting with the letter A is best.  In strings we start with D as all method books start that way, and go forward, and then backwards in the alphabet.  As Dr. Morrow said “For a student with dyslexia, that is like learning the alphabet starting with the letter M.”   The next in reading music, would be to teach rhythms starting with the largest amount, whole note, and working down.


Then she gave some strategies to help with this.  One neat strategy was to mark the beats.  And she gave some clear examples on sound filling the note, and how ledger lines work.   It was a really interesting session, and I was really glad to listen to it.  For more PD items I learned, please visit my website:   https://sites.google.com/lps53.org/svms-orchestra/home?authuser=0

When you get there, find the Page titled Professional Development.  It will have the many ideas from the many sessions I attended.

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