How to teach a dyslexic pupil? Help!

Questions on learning to play the piano, and piano music.

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speccyboo
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How to teach a dyslexic pupil? Help!

Post by speccyboo » 17 Jul 2009, 14:52

I have a pupil who is 9 and has been having piano lessons for a year and a half. I think her dad mentioned once when I expressed concern at her progress that she is dyslexic but nothing has been said since. Her progress is frustratingly slow. She has been learning the same 4 8-bar tunes for 6 months and keeps making the same mistakes over and over. I introduced a different book 3 months ago and she got quite excited about it, and is doing quite well on the first tune. The problem is, she remembers when she first started how quickly we got through the first few pages of her book (Piano Time 1) and compares it to how slow we are going now, and gets really down about it. It depresses me too at times, and she takes her frustration out on me in the lesson sometimes too, so it's not much fun for either of us.
I'm a bit stuck to be honest, for ideas or material or how to keep encouraging her.
Hoping someone can help.

Descombes
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Re: How to teach a dyslexic pupil? Help!

Post by Descombes » 17 Jul 2009, 16:18

The Joy of First Year Piano by Denes Agay (Music Sales) has endless pieces of around that standard and I find the it really suits that sort of pupil. I remember seeing the Associated Board examiners' directions for dyslexic candidates, which included some useful suggestions. I wonder if it was in one of those books they produce like "Me and my examination" or some such title.
Things like:
Don't refer to right and left hands, but say this hand or that hand, pointing clearly.
Don't say up or down, but point up or down the keyboard.
Don't be afraid to repeat things over and over again.
Develop the ear and the memory, rather than relying too much on notation.
Do a lot of praising!

I'll try to think of some other suggestions; summer holidays are not a good time to get my mind in focus.

Gill the Piano
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Re: How to teach a dyslexic pupil? Help!

Post by Gill the Piano » 17 Jul 2009, 17:24

The Lisa Childs method depends on colour at first and removes the letter-name anxiety for the dyslexic. I have heard of many teachers who have had success with dyslexic pupils using that method.
You could try getting all these suggested books from the library first and make your decision after you've seen them all - might save some money!
I play for my own amazement... :piano;

speccyboo
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Re: How to teach a dyslexic pupil? Help!

Post by speccyboo » 17 Jul 2009, 20:12

thanks for all your suggestions. I hadn't heard of Playing with Colour but I like the look of it, and the other suggestions too. I have the summer now to have a proper browse through them all and start again in September with a new approach.
I have another student who I discovered is also dyslexic but doesn't seem to be struggling quite so much, but he would probably make better progress with a colour book as well.
Should I be slightly annoyed that neither of these kids' parents told me when they first started lessons that they are dyslexic?

Gill the Piano
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Re: How to teach a dyslexic pupil? Help!

Post by Gill the Piano » 17 Jul 2009, 20:49

You're a teacher - everyone knows teachers are psychic! :lol:
I play for my own amazement... :piano;

Descombes
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Re: How to teach a dyslexic pupil? Help!

Post by Descombes » 17 Jul 2009, 22:21

speccyboo wrote: Should I be slightly annoyed that neither of these kids' parents told me when they first started lessons that they are dyslexic?
Not too annoyed! It's better not to be told than to have dyslexia constantly thrown up as an excuse for slow progress. I have one pupil in particular (actually he's about to move to a very prestigious establishment in Manchester!) who gives the excuse after every wrong note. "Of course, I can't do this because I'm dyslexic" became very familiar and increasingly irritating!

speccyboo
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Re: How to teach a dyslexic pupil? Help!

Post by speccyboo » 18 Jul 2009, 18:38

I can imagine how that would become very irritating!
But to never mention it at all, only as a passing comment, seems a bit odd to me. I can't help thinking that if I had been told at the beginning, I could have found the right material straight away and both kids would be happier and making better progress.
Ah well. You can't get everything right. :roll:

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