Discussion:
dyslexia and reading music
(too old to reply)
billkilpatrick
2007-10-31 18:00:53 UTC
Permalink
is there a correlation between dyslexia and an inability to read
music? i looked through past posts but couldn't see anything which
related.

- bill
J. Van Thuyne
2007-10-31 18:36:02 UTC
Permalink
Post by billkilpatrick
is there a correlation between dyslexia and an inability to read
music? i looked through past posts but couldn't see anything which
related.
- bill
What do you mean with 'the inability' to read music?
Dyslexia does not imply an *inability* to read, it is just a major handicap
in reading. I can't imagine a single person who would not be able to read
music. Even the blind can read music, when engraved in Braille cells.
--
Jethro Van Thuyne
~ Vitud er enn, eda hvat?
Jack Campin - bogus address
2007-10-31 23:59:06 UTC
Permalink
Post by billkilpatrick
is there a correlation between dyslexia and an inability to read
music? i looked through past posts but couldn't see anything which
related.
I have worked with music manuscripts by Scottish soldiers who could
write music fluently but barely sign their names. Their spelling
of tune titles would have left history guessing if they hadn't been
copying pieces we already know from print sources.

============== j-c ====== @ ====== purr . demon . co . uk ==============
Jack Campin: 11 Third St, Newtongrange EH22 4PU, Scotland | tel 0131 660 4760
<http://www.purr.demon.co.uk/jack/> for CD-ROMs and free | fax 0870 0554 975
stuff: Scottish music, food intolerance, & Mac logic fonts | mob 07800 739 557
t***@lecwireless.com
2007-11-01 15:00:02 UTC
Permalink
Most people with dyslexia seem to be helped by learning to read music.
The music teacher should have some knowledge of the subject though. I
think (from my own experience) that it helps one learn (or at least
gives one another method to learn) how to separate left and right hand
tasks.
Steve Latham
2007-11-02 01:06:25 UTC
Permalink
Post by t***@lecwireless.com
Most people with dyslexia seem to be helped by learning to read music.
The music teacher should have some knowledge of the subject though. I
think (from my own experience)
Do you have dyslexia?

Curiously,

Steve
t***@lecwireless.com
2007-11-05 04:04:39 UTC
Permalink
Post by Steve Latham
Do you have dyslexia?
Curiously,
Steve\
Yes. But I can still read. (I had to learn to spell by just memorizing
all the words in the spelling list.)

I learned to read music when I was about 5 so that helped.

My main problem is just a tendency to reverse letters or numbers.
Steve Latham
2007-11-10 16:36:45 UTC
Permalink
Post by t***@lecwireless.com
Post by Steve Latham
Do you have dyslexia?
Curiously,
Steve\
Yes. But I can still read. (I had to learn to spell by just memorizing
all the words in the spelling list.)
I learned to read music when I was about 5 so that helped.
My main problem is just a tendency to reverse letters or numbers.
So, no similar reversals in music notation (other than letters or numbers in
that notation obviously)?

Steve
t***@lecwireless.com
2007-11-11 03:27:43 UTC
Permalink
Post by Steve Latham
Post by t***@lecwireless.com
Post by Steve Latham
Do you have dyslexia?
Curiously,
Steve\
Yes. But I can still read. (I had to learn to spell by just memorizing
all the words in the spelling list.)
I learned to read music when I was about 5 so that helped.
My main problem is just a tendency to reverse letters or numbers.
So, no similar reversals in music notation (other than letters or numbers in
that notation obviously)?
Steve
There doesn't seem to be much of a problem with reversals. I think
it's because there are (at least) three ways of learning a piece: the
visual appearance of the score, the auditory experience, and how the
music feels under the fingers. The visual, auditory, and kinesthetic
reinforce each other. Some of this experience does transfer to sight
reading.

Steve Latham
2007-11-02 01:09:57 UTC
Permalink
Post by Jack Campin - bogus address
Post by billkilpatrick
is there a correlation between dyslexia and an inability to read
music? i looked through past posts but couldn't see anything which
related.
I have worked with music manuscripts by Scottish soldiers who could
write music fluently but barely sign their names. Their spelling
of tune titles would have left history guessing if they hadn't been
copying pieces we already know from print sources.
Dyslexia usually, and to my limited knowledge, involves a lot of incorrect
processing of similarly-shaped letters:

p q b d.

In music, since we can put the stem either up or down, and the note on
either side of the stem (if we want to - there are notational standards
regarding this) and not change the note's meaning, I don't imagine it would
cause any problems.

I'd be interested to hear from a person with dyslexia though.

Steve
BobW
2007-11-02 02:46:29 UTC
Permalink
Post by Steve Latham
Post by Jack Campin - bogus address
Post by billkilpatrick
is there a correlation between dyslexia and an inability to read
music? i looked through past posts but couldn't see anything which
related.
I have worked with music manuscripts by Scottish soldiers who could
write music fluently but barely sign their names. Their spelling
of tune titles would have left history guessing if they hadn't been
copying pieces we already know from print sources.
Dyslexia usually, and to my limited knowledge, involves a lot of incorrect
p q b d.
In music, since we can put the stem either up or down, and the note on
either side of the stem (if we want to - there are notational standards
regarding this) and not change the note's meaning, I don't imagine it
would cause any problems.
I'd be interested to hear from a person with dyslexia though.
Steve
I had a friend with severe dyslexia. One day, he was so distraught over his
condition that he ran out into the middle of the street and threw himself
behind a bus.

Bob
billkilpatrick
2007-11-02 09:12:53 UTC
Permalink
On 2 Nov, 03:46, "BobW" <***@roadrunner.com> wrote:

thanks bob ...

i've got it, my eldest son has it, my father is a lefty ... in my case
it's not so much that i get the front and back of individual letters
confused as much as i see them in groups, usually of two, shunted off
to the right or left, before or after where they should be. i closed
my first ever love letter to a stunningly beautiful blond girl in the
5th grade with "yours turly." not suprisingly, she told me to get
lost.

when reading music i can follow the first bar ok and sometimes even
the second but after that my mind descends into panic. it's as if i
were reading the score in the dark with a tiny flashlight illuminating
one section at a time. i can only play those notes. if i return to
the previous section and try to join it with what i'm presently
seeing, my mind goes "tilt."

i tried reading simple songs like "old macdonald had a farm" - not
playing them from memory and not playing the notes until i had
registered them as written information - but found i wasn't
coordinating the two functions at all.

this must sound idiotic to those who can read music - like trying to
describe colour to someone blind.

any rate ... thanks for the joke and thank everyone else for their
comments - bill
Post by BobW
I had a friend with severe dyslexia. One day, he was so distraught over his
condition that he ran out into the middle of the street and threw himself
behind a bus.
Bob
Hans Aberg
2007-11-02 12:02:49 UTC
Permalink
Post by billkilpatrick
when reading music i can follow the first bar ok and sometimes even
the second but after that my mind descends into panic. it's as if i
were reading the score in the dark with a tiny flashlight illuminating
one section at a time.
There is an article here about different types of dyslexia, and none seems
to describe what you are saying.
   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dyslexia#Subtypes_of_dyslexia

So it could just be inexperience with reading music:

Before one can work out the rhythms, and pitches, this is what one would feel.

One way to train is is by sight reading training:

Take a volume of fairly easy tunes, and just tray to play as much straight
off. Don't stop at error. Play it slower, if it seems necessary. It helps
with an instrument where one does not have to worry too much about
fingering.

Hans Aberg
Steve Latham
2007-11-03 00:23:21 UTC
Permalink
"billkilpatrick" <***@virgilio.it> wrote in message news:***@22g2000hsm.googlegroups.com...
[snip]

- not
Post by billkilpatrick
playing them from memory and not playing the notes until i had
registered them as written information - but found i wasn't
coordinating the two functions at all.
Bill - I assume you can play by memory or by ear Ok.
Post by billkilpatrick
this must sound idiotic to those who can read music - like trying to
describe colour to someone blind.
I just heard an interview on NPR with a man who was blinded at 3, and was
restored to sight as an adult. He was a very capable unsighted person, and
this new ability was in many ways a handicap. The relevant part of the story
is that he can see letters, and words, and understands that letter make
words, but he can not "see" the collection of letters as a word. He knows in
his mind they are, and of course he can read Braille, but he just can't see
"The" as the word the, only the letters T, H, and E.

Another interesting thing I've seen is that people can read perfectly well
when the first and last letter are correct, but the internal letters are
re-arranged.

Yours Turly isn't so incomprehnesible after all.

(did you catch my reversal?).

Steve
Hans Aberg
2007-11-03 09:26:22 UTC
Permalink
Post by Steve Latham
I just heard an interview on NPR with a man who was blinded at 3, and was
restored to sight as an adult. He was a very capable unsighted person, and
this new ability was in many ways a handicap. The relevant part of the story
is that he can see letters, and words, and understands that letter make
words, but he can not "see" the collection of letters as a word. He knows in
his mind they are, and of course he can read Braille, but he just can't see
"The" as the word the, only the letters T, H, and E.
One normally reads whole words, instead of combining separate letters. So
before one has memorized the look of the words, reading will
be inefficient.

The same applies to reading music, I gather: before one has learned to
recognize common patterns, reading will be like trying to combine
individual letters.
Post by Steve Latham
Another interesting thing I've seen is that people can read perfectly well 
when the first and last letter are correct, but the internal letters are 
re-arranged.
So this might be a consequence of the technique of identifying whole
words: one learns to pick out only some major shapes. Faster.

Hans Aberg
Steve Latham
2007-11-03 14:19:06 UTC
Permalink
Post by Steve Latham
I just heard an interview on NPR with a man who was blinded at 3, and was
restored to sight as an adult. He was a very capable unsighted person, and
this new ability was in many ways a handicap. The relevant part of the story
is that he can see letters, and words, and understands that letter make
words, but he can not "see" the collection of letters as a word. He knows in
his mind they are, and of course he can read Braille, but he just can't see
"The" as the word the, only the letters T, H, and E.
One normally reads whole words, instead of combining separate letters. So
before one has memorized the look of the words, reading will
be inefficient.
The point is, this person can not.

Steve
Hans Aberg
2007-11-03 14:47:27 UTC
Permalink
Post by Steve Latham
Post by Steve Latham
I just heard an interview on NPR with a man who was blinded at 3, and was
restored to sight as an adult. He was a very capable unsighted person, and
this new ability was in many ways a handicap. The relevant part of the story
is that he can see letters, and words, and understands that letter make
words, but he can not "see" the collection of letters as a word. He knows in
his mind they are, and of course he can read Braille, but he just can't see
"The" as the word the, only the letters T, H, and E.
One normally reads whole words, instead of combining separate letters. So
before one has memorized the look of the words, reading will
be inefficient.
The point is, this person can not.
The point is: he might learn.

Hans Aberg
Julio Laredo
2007-11-02 01:31:49 UTC
Permalink
Doubtful, since music exists only in brains. What is scratched on paper is
a shorthand list of instructions on how to vibrate the air, and not really a
language.
Post by billkilpatrick
is there a correlation between dyslexia and an inability to read
music? i looked through past posts but couldn't see anything which
related.
- bill
Dan McGarvey
2007-11-04 21:56:01 UTC
Permalink
Post by billkilpatrick
is there a correlation between dyslexia and an inability to read
music? i looked through past posts but couldn't see anything which
related.
Bill:

You might be surprised to learn that there's no real body of research on
this topic, which is odd if you think about it, as you'd think that this
would have been studied. Apparently not. I am a middle school choir
teacher and I have a student with dyslexia. In the interests of learning
more about this I solicited her help, along with interviewing specialists in
cognitive processing and gathering anecdotes from colleagues in my field. I
compiled my findings into a post that I published on Choralnet last year.
There were some eye-opening findings on my part, but I didn't exactly break
any new ground. I'm copying that post into this message for you to read.

Because dyslexia is such a broad term, people might be hard-pessed to find a
starting point. I'm going to try to follow up with my student, hopefully
this year if I can make time to do the research. Anyhow, here's my little
essay. Happy reading!

Dan



This query sparked much interest, and it would seem that I'm in the same
boat with many of you who have had students like this. I was pointed to
only one solid resource on ChoralNet which turned out to be nothing more
than an anecdotal supposition written in 97, which was of very little help.
I did, however, consult with my school's Special Education teacher as well
as our guidance counselor, who has much experience in diagnosing these sorts
of issues with students.

What I've learned so far:

"Dyslexia" is not a specific condition, but rather an umbrella term for an
enormous variety of issues dealing with how the brain processes visual
information. These issues vary almost from person to person.

Contrary to my assumptions, the brain does not process music notation the
same way it processes text. I had always assumed that because translating
music notation to a sung melody is a similar process to translating text to
speech (in terms of converting a printed symbol to an associated phonation),
that these two processes share the same neural pathways in the brain. They
do not. Reading music notation was described as a "visual/spatial" process
by one of my colleagues, and this is a different process than processing
text to speech. So essentially, a person singing a piece of choral music or
art song is multitasking - doing two independent neural processes at the
same time: reading the printed text the same time as translating the
notation to melody. The anecdote I read on ChoralNet seems to underscore
this assertion.

Because of the above clarification, I learned that many students with
dyslexia issues do not necessarily have a problem with reading music
notation per se. In the case of my student, who I will call S.G., she
actually does not have a problem reading music notation. She already has
established methods in place for dealing with text, and where her problems
arise in choir rehearsal is when text appears on the same piece of paper as
the notation. In her case, she is attempting to work through the printed
text but the notation above, not to mention the way text is laid out on a
piece of music (spaced far apart, with separated syllables and word
extensions) is complicating her usual strategies.

For a student like S.G., the suggested accommodation was simple enough:
provide the text on a separate sheet of paper so she can familiarize herself
with it without the distractions of music notation and layout scheme. The
next step is to present the text as it laid out in the music, either
highlighted or with the surrounding notation blotted out, so all that's
visible on the paper is the text itself. Once comfortable with the text
layout, then introduce both text and notation together. I have asked S.G.
to work with me this year to help me study and implement these strategies so
I can see the extent to which they help.

The big question this leaves me with is this: I know there are forms of
dyslexia out there that actually do impede the reading of music notation (a
few of you actually wrote to me with your experiences). So while I have
found some reasonable approaches for students who don't have a problem with
notation, I'm still interested in discovering specific strategies for those
who do.

To summarize:

There is enormous success in developing clear strategies for people with
dyslexia issues to succeed in terms of reading printed text, but it seems
that in teaching notation, many of us are left clutching at straws;
sometimes the same approach for text works, sometimes it doesn't, and we're
left with trial-and-error approaches.

The same, unless I just haven't found it, there doesn't seem to be a
clearly-defined body of research out there dealing specifically with
dyslexia and reading music notation, just accounts of individual
experiences. If there is some good research out there, I'd like to find out
where it is, as I'm sure it's just a matter of time before I meet a student
who can really benefit from this.

Many thanks to each of you who responded.
billkilpatrick
2007-11-04 23:15:24 UTC
Permalink
thank you dan. i read your post twice and i'm very encouraged. i
posted this problem to several sites (because it really interestes me
and really i'm fed up with not being able to read music) and this is
the only one which offers - even a remote - possibilty of some help.

now, when i have music notation in front of me, i'm more inclined to
observe my mind as it malfunctions rather than succumb immediately to
panic. it is as i described earlier - my eye can not (will not) place
the dots in the sequence in which they are printed. before i attempt
to read music i say " E - very G - ood B - oy D- eserves F -
favor" ... and "F-A-C-E" but that template, for the want of a better
word, doesn't stop the dots from wriggling around or link one lot of
them to the next.

i play several instruments - none too well - but i think i'll
concentrate on the mandolin for the purposes of learning how to read,
simply because it has (i think) the most logical arrangement of notes
on the fingerboard.

another possibilty (as someone mentioned earlier) is to learn how to
sing the notes - this may be the solution.

in any case - thanks heaps to the lot of you - bill
Post by Dan McGarvey
Post by billkilpatrick
is there a correlation between dyslexia and an inability to read
music? i looked through past posts but couldn't see anything which
related.
You might be surprised to learn that there's no real body of research on
this topic, which is odd if you think about it, as you'd think that this
would have been studied. Apparently not. I am a middle school choir
teacher and I have a student with dyslexia. In the interests of learning
more about this I solicited her help, along with interviewing specialists in
cognitive processing and gathering anecdotes from colleagues in my field. I
compiled my findings into a post that I published on Choralnet last year.
There were some eye-opening findings on my part, but I didn't exactly break
any new ground. I'm copying that post into this message for you to read.
Because dyslexia is such a broad term, people might be hard-pessed to find a
starting point. I'm going to try to follow up with my student, hopefully
this year if I can make time to do the research. Anyhow, here's my little
essay. Happy reading!
Dan
This query sparked much interest, and it would seem that I'm in the same
boat with many of you who have had students like this. I was pointed to
only one solid resource on ChoralNet which turned out to be nothing more
than an anecdotal supposition written in 97, which was of very little help.
I did, however, consult with my school's Special Education teacher as well
as our guidance counselor, who has much experience in diagnosing these sorts
of issues with students.
"Dyslexia" is not a specific condition, but rather an umbrella term for an
enormous variety of issues dealing with how the brain processes visual
information. These issues vary almost from person to person.
Contrary to my assumptions, the brain does not process music notation the
same way it processes text. I had always assumed that because translating
music notation to a sung melody is a similar process to translating text to
speech (in terms of converting a printed symbol to an associated phonation),
that these two processes share the same neural pathways in the brain. They
do not. Reading music notation was described as a "visual/spatial" process
by one of my colleagues, and this is a different process than processing
text to speech. So essentially, a person singing a piece of choral music or
art song is multitasking - doing two independent neural processes at the
same time: reading the printed text the same time as translating the
notation to melody. The anecdote I read on ChoralNet seems to underscore
this assertion.
Because of the above clarification, I learned that many students with
dyslexia issues do not necessarily have a problem with reading music
notation per se. In the case of my student, who I will call S.G., she
actually does not have a problem reading music notation. She already has
established methods in place for dealing with text, and where her problems
arise in choir rehearsal is when text appears on the same piece of paper as
the notation. In her case, she is attempting to work through the printed
text but the notation above, not to mention the way text is laid out on a
piece of music (spaced far apart, with separated syllables and word
extensions) is complicating her usual strategies.
provide the text on a separate sheet of paper so she can familiarize herself
with it without the distractions of music notation and layout scheme. The
next step is to present the text as it laid out in the music, either
highlighted or with the surrounding notation blotted out, so all that's
visible on the paper is the text itself. Once comfortable with the text
layout, then introduce both text and notation together. I have asked S.G.
to work with me this year to help me study and implement these strategies so
I can see the extent to which they help.
The big question this leaves me with is this: I know there are forms of
dyslexia out there that actually do impede the reading of music notation (a
few of you actually wrote to me with your experiences). So while I have
found some reasonable approaches for students who don't have a problem with
notation, I'm still interested in discovering specific strategies for those
who do.
There is enormous success in developing clear strategies for people with
dyslexia issues to succeed in terms of reading printed text, but it seems
that in teaching notation, many of us are left clutching at straws;
sometimes the same approach for text works, sometimes it doesn't, and we're
left with trial-and-error approaches.
The same, unless I just haven't found it, there doesn't seem to be a
clearly-defined body of research out there dealing specifically with
dyslexia and reading music notation, just accounts of individual
experiences. If there is some good research out there, I'd like to find out
where it is, as I'm sure it's just a matter of time before I meet a student
who can really benefit from this.
Many thanks to each of you who responded.
Steve Latham
2007-11-05 03:56:00 UTC
Permalink
Post by billkilpatrick
thank you dan. i read your post twice and i'm very encouraged. i
posted this problem to several sites (because it really interestes me
and really i'm fed up with not being able to read music) and this is
the only one which offers - even a remote - possibilty of some help.
Bill,

I'm curious - have you tried any other forms of notation? Tablature? Shape
Note? Klavarskribo?

Tablature is not uncommon for stringed instruments like mandolin, though the
other two are fairly specific forms of notation.

Best,
Steve
billkilpatrick
2007-11-05 09:04:56 UTC
Permalink
i'd never heard of klavarskribo or shape notes - you learn something
new every day. of the two i would think that shape notes would be
more useful to me as they seem to be read - recognized - in the same
way letters are.

as it happens, i do have some difficulty with tab, though not as much
as with notation. it's connecting the blocks of notes together that i
find most difficult. with repetition i eventually "get" it, one piece
at a time and play the song from memory ever after. even with well
known, simple songs - "mary had a little lamb," etc. - i find it
impossible to read the notes and play them accordingly.

thanks for the shape notes info - this could be interesting - bill
Post by Steve Latham
Post by billkilpatrick
thank you dan. i read your post twice and i'm very encouraged. i
posted this problem to several sites (because it really interestes me
and really i'm fed up with not being able to read music) and this is
the only one which offers - even a remote - possibilty of some help.
Bill,
I'm curious - have you tried any other forms of notation? Tablature? Shape
Note? Klavarskribo?
Tablature is not uncommon for stringed instruments like mandolin, though the
other two are fairly specific forms of notation.
Best,
Steve
Steve Latham
2007-11-10 16:37:53 UTC
Permalink
Post by billkilpatrick
i'd never heard of klavarskribo or shape notes - you learn something
new every day. of the two i would think that shape notes would be
more useful to me as they seem to be read - recognized - in the same
way letters are.
as it happens, i do have some difficulty with tab, though not as much
as with notation. it's connecting the blocks of notes together that i
find most difficult. with repetition i eventually "get" it, one piece
at a time and play the song from memory ever after. even with well
known, simple songs - "mary had a little lamb," etc. - i find it
impossible to read the notes and play them accordingly.
thanks for the shape notes info - this could be interesting - bill
If you investigate further, let me know how it goes Bill.

Best,
Steve
Steve Latham
2007-11-05 03:48:29 UTC
Permalink
Dan,


Thanks for the informative post!

Steve
t***@lecwireless.com
2007-11-05 19:12:55 UTC
Permalink
There are various problems that those with dyslexia must deal with.
For many, numbers exist in particular patterns that do not necessarily
agree with "mathematical order." For example, for me, I just see
numbers in a line (with kinks but ordered.) This causes no problems.
Some people see numbers in a two-dimensional pattern sort of like:

23 - 33 - 87 -100 - 36....
8 - 44 - 4 - 13 - 45 -
481 - 56 - .......

To do arithmetic, they must find the numbers in the pattern then use
them, (I would teach such people by just doing manupilation with
digits; mechanical, but not intuitive.)

Some dyslexics have difficulty associating a word with an object.
"Lion" is just a bunch of letters, not a beast. (I have this; I found
it useful in learning new languages. Words may mean something, but
only by convention.) I do know people who cannot separate the word
from the object, too.

I do not know if there are musical problems of a similar type. I have
read that reading music and reading maps are similar. There are people
who cannot read a map.
Steve Latham
2007-11-10 16:45:27 UTC
Permalink
<***@lecwireless.com> wrote in message news:***@e34g2000pro.googlegroups.com...

There are people
Post by t***@lecwireless.com
who cannot read a map.
But it's not always because of a perceptual difficulty :-)

Ask my wife, er... navigator.

Steve
Alain Naigeon
2007-11-10 18:14:44 UTC
Permalink
Post by t***@lecwireless.com
There are people
Post by t***@lecwireless.com
who cannot read a map.
But it's not always because of a perceptual difficulty :-)
Ask my wife, er... navigator.
I'm afraid that "wife", here, is more relevant than "my", since
I know another wife beeing also very uncomfortable with maps :-)
--
Français *==> "Musique renaissance" <==* English
midi - facsimiles - ligatures - mensuration
http://anaigeon.free.fr | http://www.medieval.org/emfaq/anaigeon/
Alain Naigeon - ***@free.fr - Oberhoffen/Moder, France
Tom K.
2007-11-10 20:44:17 UTC
Permalink
Post by Alain Naigeon
Post by t***@lecwireless.com
There are people
Post by t***@lecwireless.com
who cannot read a map.
But it's not always because of a perceptual difficulty :-)
Ask my wife, er... navigator.
I'm afraid that "wife", here, is more relevant than "my", since
I know another wife beeing also very uncomfortable with maps :-)
I know what you're talking about, Alain. I've decided there are two types
of people in this world - map people and direction people. As she hails
from New York City, my wife is a direction person, so maps are, by their
very nature, foreign to her. Being a map person, the last 3 times I asked
for directions, I was routed the wrong way and had to rely on (out of date)
maps to bail me out.

Thankfully, Mapquest & other similar services include both maps and
directions!!

Tom K.
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