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The Piano and Dyslexia Project

Learning piano isn’t easy for everyone and the same applies to teaching. Maria is sharing with us the details of the project that aims to find ways to make the teaching students with dyslexia easier. We believe it is a really good initiative and great post to start our blog where piano teachers and people with passion to piano will share their thoughts, ideas, projects and experiences.

The Piano and Dyslexia Project started in January 2017 during my postgraduate studies at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance ( MA in Piano Performance and Education). It is a webpage and online forum for piano teachers who are currently teaching students with dyslexia, but it is open to anybody who is interested in instrumental teaching/music and dyslexia (music teachers, music students, parents, etc).

The main aims of the project are: to identify the difficulties that teachers and students are facing during their instrumental lessons and to create appropriate resources for the specific teaching situation. Additionally, to create an online community of practisioners-in this case music teachers- in order to communicate and discuss issues of their interest.

I came up with this idea last year that I was working as an SEND Teacher in a mainstream school. I was mainly working with students with dyslexia and literacy difficulties. I then realised that dyslexia is not only a difficulty in reading and writing, as it is often considered (the word dyslexia comes from the greek word dys-lexia which means difficulty with words).
However, it affects the whole life of the person (organisation skills, motor skills, memory, etc). In consequence, it affects the instrumental learning also (reading, hand coordination, sight reading, rhythm, and other). I was wondering how frustrating it must be for a child, who finds it difficult to concentrate and read simple CVC words, to play the piano (read two lines and the same time, decode the notation, play in time, coordinate both hands).

Through this project though, I want to promote the idea that dyslexia should not be encountered as a difficulty but as a difference. There are so many successful artists and particularly musicians who are dyslexic and there is so much research in neurosciences about the possible reasons. To my view, reading and decoding a score should not be a barrier for any student. Different strategies and approaches should be applied during our lessons so that our teaching is more effective.

Discussions about these matters will take place on the forum, so if you are interested subscribe on the webpage and post about your views:

I am looking forward to hearing from you all!

Maria Nikitidou
MA Music Education and Performance
Piano Diploma in Performance
BA in Primary Education with QTS

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  1. Ruth Holiday

    I’m dyslexic but have learned to play the piano. In my experience I have not had difficulties learning to read the notes or coordinate the hands as I find by practicing the hands separately the. Together I remember the sequence through knesethetic memory. I find sight reading difficult particularly in chord cluster notation.
    The hardest thing for me is rhythm. I feel I have very little internal metre in my head to be able to count. I find it hard to translate the dotted and tied rhythms from the page into music. One of my piano teachers helped me by giving me sequences of words for equivalent rhythms. By prouncing the words while playing helps me to play. For example in the golliwog’s cake walk- I say to myself while playing the opening rhythm to the piece is “LIz-Zie and Ruth are having some fun.” Or remember that four quavers are like saying “Piccadilly”.

    Another issue with dyslexia I’ve encountered at piano exams is short term memory problems.I’ve had issues with remembering which scale the examiner has requested.-Also I need visual prompts sometimes to remind me of the appropriate scale- even if I can play without the music and by heart, I need the visual appearance of the page of music in front of me to give me a prompt of what to play.