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Dyslexia Assessments

Nine ways that music and dyslexia work in harmony 

Dyslexia is a superpower that approximately 10% of the population holds and it affects how people process written language. But how does this affect reading sheet music, understanding musical language or learning an instrument?  

Does dyslexia hinder musical abilities?  

Sometimes music teachers have students who struggle to maintain a steady pulse, consistently skip notes, or add their own rhythm which can make it challenging to keep in time.

However, it’s worth noting that some music teachers have received dyslexia training and are equipped to work with neurodiverse students, exploring different ways to learn and helping them to continue their passion for music.  

In this blog, we will explore nine ways that music and dyslexia can work together to produce positive outcomes that can have a significant impact on areas that dyslexic individuals may find challenging.

We will also mention a few well-known names, so keep reading until the end. 

  1. Music helps to enhance cognitive abilities that are otherwise difficult for individuals with dyslexia. For example, research has shown that engaging with music can help language processing and auditory skills.  
  1. Reading music may be easier than reading text. It may also help a child’s reading skills by improving their ability to process speech sounds, recognise sound patterns and map them to symbols. However, some dyslexic people may have trouble understanding rhythm and pitch, making it hard to make sense of sheet music. 
  1. Multisensory techniques help to raise awareness of a beat, changes in pitch and learning a melody. For example, walking or clapping to different rhythms or using the body to respond to changes in pitch.  
  1. Using colour can make all the difference. Writing notes in different colours on sheet music helps them to stand out and for some, using different coloured lines helps symbols to stay in place.  
  1. Music can help to boost self-esteem and motivation by helping dyslexic individuals to express themselves creatively and overcome challenges. Interested in reading more about the link between dyslexia and creative thinking? Take a look at our blog.  
  1. Not all instruments are dyslexic friendly. Brass instruments are a good choice for dyslexics as they require fewer fingers than wind instruments and some percussion instruments. Mallet instruments, such as xylophones, may be a challenge for those with visual tracking difficulties.  
  1. Music therapy can improve phonological awareness and working memory, essential for reading and spelling.   
  1. We work for the British Dyslexia Association assessing children and adults. They have a database of teachers who are aware of dyslexic and neurodiverse conditions so you can continue your child’s passion for music. 
  1. And on to the celebrities….Mick Fleetwood, the drummer from Fleetwood Mac is dyslexic, having struggled with reading and writing, he discovered his incredible talent for drumming. Even more so, Paul McCartney found music classes boring – who would have thought he’d become a legendary member of The Beatles! And Cher, Ozzy Osborne, Noel Gallagher…

Musical challenges for dyslexic individuals 

For individuals with dyslexia, participating in musical activities can present a unique set of challenges.  

One such challenge is the difficulty in sight-reading music, which can be addressed by using coloured overlays or tinted paper to enhance visual contrast and reduce visual stress.  

Additionally, individuals with dyslexia may have trouble retaining instructions and music theory between lessons, particularly during high-pressure situations like exams, lessons, and rehearsals. To overcome this, music teachers can use mnemonic techniques or other memory aids to reinforce learning.  

Lastly, decoding information can be a struggle for dyslexic individuals, but this can be addressed by using multisensory approaches that engage multiple senses (such as sight, sound, and touch) to help them understand musical vocabulary and concepts. 

Using music as a tool to overcome difficulties

While dyslexia can affect how people process written language, it does not necessarily have an impact on their musical abilities.

By choosing the right instrument and learning techniques, children with dyslexia can develop their musical skills and potentially become highly skilled musicians.  

Participating in musical activities can also have several positive effects on individuals with dyslexia, including boosting their self-esteem and developing their motor coordination, memory, concentration, and organizational skills.  

Despite the challenges that may arise, music can be a powerful tool to help individuals with dyslexia overcome their difficulties and achieve their full potential. 

About Dyslexia First 

At Dyslexia First we want to help those who are living with dyslexia to enjoy life and the opportunities it brings.

We are relentlessly positive about dyslexia. 

If you want to talk more about dyslexia and discuss assessment for children or adults, please contact us. 

Getting assessed by a qualified practitioner is crucial to getting the correct diagnosis and accessing the help and support you need for your child. Always check an assessor’s qualifications at: SpLD Assessment Standards Committee website. 

Source:  

Music and dyslexia – British Dyslexia Association (bdadyslexia.org.uk) 

FAQs about dyslexia and learning music (understood.org)